Ashley: U-Turn to God

The beginning of my journey at Faith Farm started in September 2011. This was, in fact, my second time here at Faith Farm. My first time coming into the program was in January 2007, when the women’s program was in Okeechobee. I left the program after about 4 months, thinking that I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what I was doing. I believed Faith Farm was NOT going to teach me anything else I did not already know. I had developed a relationship with the Lord, and I thought I was ready. So I left.

I managed to stay sober for about 5 or 6 months. Before I knew it, I was back to my old habits again, seemingly worse than ever before. It took a few years, but I finally swallowed my pride and asked to come back to Faith Farm. I was allowed to come back.

This has not been an easy journey. I have grown emotionally. I have grown spiritually. And thanks to our wonderful chefs, I have grown physically! I have had to learn responsibility, organization, and how to cope and deal with every situation. I came to realize that, along with numbing the bad feelings, I numbed the good as well. So, I have had to re-learn many things.

I have learned to pray instead of worry. I have learned to lean on God instead of leaning on man. It has been a process in which I have had to change, and sometimes change hurts. Change makes us uncomfortable. However, with the help of the staff here and my extremely supportive family, the good Lord has gotten me through. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my mother and my grandfather who have refused to give up on me.

I am blessed to have a God who loves me infinitely. Because of Him, I was not only able to come back to Faith Farm, but I stand here as a graduate today. I owe everything I am, everything I have become, and everything I ever will be to the grace of God. I WAS an alcoholic. I WAS a drug addict. With God, I am a conqueror. Now, I HAVE overcome.

Michael: U-Turn To God

I knew first-hand the negative effects and consequences that gripped many generations of my family. It was a curse. Any minor run-ins with the law were alcohol fueled.

After graduating high school, I entered the Army to escape the alcohol and drug-fueled environment. While serving in the military, I was losing more friends back home to overdoses and drug-related crimes than those I was serving within the Army.

After my enlistment, I returned to Long Island and met my wife, whom I’d be married to for over 30 years. Her encouragement and support kept me focused and on track for the better things life had to offer. Together, and with God, we raised 3 healthy children. I knew the importance of keeping my children close to the church family; having values, structure, and discipline. My entire focus was my family. I was able to break the generational curse of substance abuse once and for all.

I was clean and sober for over 30 years, until that dreadful day in 2007 when I had my neck broken and was introduced to pain pills. I took them daily for 3 years, still functioning as a mental health counselor, teaching crisis intervention in 3 HCA area hospitals, running groups, and tasked with supervision of clients.

I was an addict and everyone knew it. I lost my job at Columbia Hosptial in the Pavilion of over 20 years, my 30 years of marriage, the respect and trust of my children, my parents, brothers, and sisters; and the final kicker, not being able to be with my grandchildren.

Now, being alone and far from reality, I picked up my first drink. It was a spiral down to hell. It was like dropping a brick. I was a walking dead man, prisoner within my own mind. DTs, hallucinations, delusions, you name it. I knew, during a brief moment of clarity, that God would be the only one to restore my sanity and my life. I called Faith Farm.

Intake suggested detox, then rehab. After 30 days, I began calling Faith Farm every day. Each day I phoned, he’d say call twice on this day, once on that. I was obedient, and he let me in. Since being at Faith Farm, God has restored my relationship with my family. Restoration of my mind has occurred. The HOly SPirit now resides within my soul. I have a purpose and a God-given plan. I will be a testimony to the brothers just coming over “the bridge.” I will give back that which was freely given to me. I will be loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. His will be done!

Marrion: U-Turn to God

Like many of you, my life has been challenging and my circumstances painful. Because of this, I became very angry with God. I believed God hated me and abandoned me because He did not rescue me from my torment. My dad, the most important person in my life that I should have been able to trust, betrayed my trust in unspeakable ways. As a result, during my developmental years, I was scarred emotionally. This began many years of dysfunctional living. The pain that began in childhood took a huge toll on me well into adulthood.

At this point, I didn’t want anything to do with God. I took control of my life and found ways to survive and numb the unimaginable pain. I wanted to know, where was God in all of this? I have learned that He was right there beside me in torment projecting me and keeping the abuse from being worse than it was. For this, I thank Him.

Here at Faith Farm, I have learned that God gave us free will and that God would not stop my abusers from their bad choices any more than He stopped me from making my bad choices that have harmed others. I have learned that I grieved God by blaming Him for the abuse that I had endured and believe He allowed bad things to happen to me. It made me unhappy to see how sad I had made God by blaming Him; being angry at Him, turning my back on Him, and being self-centered. I thank God that even though I turned my back on Him and hated Him, He did not treat me the way I treated Him. I know God gave me free will, and I am glad I have chosen to no longer live under Satan’s control. I have chosen to quit being angry with God and stop playing the blame game. I have chosen to stop living in the past and giving the past control. I have chosen to give God control of my life. I chose to change.

The process of change was not easy or painless for me. I now know that any discomfort in honestly dealing with the root causes of my pain is far less than the recurring pain that would have continued to torment me if I had not chosen to change. I thank God for being with me and comforting me during the changing process. I thank God that I have not allowed fear to stop me from change as it has in the past.

Before coming to Faith Farm, I had lost all hope of my life ever changing. I was afraid to trust God, but I knew deep in my heart that God was the answer. During my stay at Faith Farm, the most impactful course for me was “The Wounded Heart.” This class helped me to heal, forgive myself, my abusers and most importantly, God. Having to change dorm rooms, drama class and wearing a dress helped me to learn to trust God, and together with Christ challenge my fears with victorious outcomes.

Being placed in leadership as room lead and dispatch lead helped me to learn leadership skills, and most importantly, to overcome my fear of me. I am thankful to God for placing men in my life that helped me to see that not all men are like the men from my past. I thank the staff and my fellow sisters for restoring my trust in Christian people, for your support, teaching, listening, and giving me unconditional love. This made me change my mind about Christians and even become one myself.

Thank you for allowing God to use you in your own special ways to change my life. I thank God that He gave Pappy the vision for Faith Farm; a protected space that God used to help me see who He truly is, and who I truly am in Him. Faith Farm also started me on my path to healing so I can become all that God intended for me to be. I thank God that I learned to follow the example of Christ, who was moved with compassion for sinners. He prayed for them as they nailed Him to the cross. This inspired me to forgive my dad and others who I held resentment towards for the abuse I endure.

 

Holden: U-Turn To God

I was brought up in a somewhat dysfunctional family. My parents divorced when I was about 4-years-old. My sister and I lived with my mother. My mother had her own alcoholic issues. It seemed to be a 24-hour party. I took my first taste of beer when I was 8-years-old. I did not like it. My mom went to rehab when I was around 10-years-old, and I went to live with my aunt in Orlando. My mom came to Orlando to take care of my sister and me.

When my mom got home, I noticed I could take advantage of the situation. I’d tell my mom it was 6:00 pm when it was really 11:00 pm, and then I’d stay out smoking weed all night at friends houses. My mom and aunt saw I was out of control, and I was reunited with my father. I moved in with him in Merritt Island. In 8th grade, I started to get in trouble. I started smoking weed and drinking a lot. This progressed into middle school, and I was introduced to Percocet, Xanax, ecstasy, and cocaine. I was introduced to oxycontin at 15 and started to smoke them regularly. I held down a job at Sears for 2 years while going to an OJT high school program and spending every penny on Oxycontin and ecstasy.

Between the ages of 18 and 25, I’d been to multiple detox, rehab, and halfway houses. I went to rehabs costing from nothing up to $30,000, and nothing seemed to work. After leaving the programs, I got back into drugs faster and harder. I started to shoot pills and heroin, overdosing 3 times where I turned blue in the face, and my skin became pale.

My addiction became a full-time job. So, I started robbing and stealing. I stole from my dad, from my grandmother, from anyone I came in contact with, as well as people I didn’t even know.

The last year before I came to Faith Farm, I was at my lowest. I was spiritually broken.

Katie, my girlfriend of 5 years, and I were getting evicted out of our apartment. We moved to a friend’s house. We were robbing, stealing, conning, and scamming to get money for drugs. The friend’s house, where we were staying, was sold due to foreclosure. Once again, we had to move. We moved into a Motel 6 for 3-months.

In the smoke-filled room of Motel 6, I had an epiphany. The way that Katie and I were living wasn’t right. My addiction wasn’t only bringing me down, it was bringing my family down and the woman I loved. I knew this wasn’t the way God wanted me to live my life. I knew I had to be a man, the leader and the strong one. I had to say, “This is enough.”

While Katie was out of the room, I called my dad to come get me and take me to the hospital for detox. He came, and we went to the hospital and back to the motel. This happened 4 times. The devil was trying to pull me back. I surrendered and went back to the hospital and walked in. I went to detox. Weeks later, I arrived at Faith Farm. I promised myself and Gold I would finish the program, and I would learn as much as I could about God, what he wants me to do and learn about myself.

I’ve had a lot of trials through this program where I wanted to pick up and leave. Instead, I leaned on God and not my own understanding. He has taken care of me and all that I have been worrying about.

In my past rehabs, I thought I was getting what I needed to get and stay clean. But, the one thing they weren’t teaching was who God is and how much He loves us. I came to Faith Farm and noticed God is in the equation. I’ve held on to what I’ve learned in the past rehabs, and when I put God into the equation, it makes sense now. I am worth. God has helped me change. I am a new creation in Christ. The old ‘me’ is dead. I am set free.

Anne: U-Turn to God

Eleven years ago, I drove across the bridge and entered the program for women at the Boynton Beach farm. I had a mixture of feelings going on inside me: anxiousness, relief, fear, depression, and sadness.

I did not know how or why, but as I drove over that bridge, I had an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness. Maybe because I had made the decision to change my ways; or maybe because deep down inside me I knew I had made the right choice to be there.

Another interesting reaction that happened is that I had a sense that I was going to be there a very long time over the required time served. I know now that it was all God’s plans.

The reason I chose Faith Farm was because it was free and I could afford that. I had just gotten two DUI charges within a month. I had to get myself in an inpatient treatment center fast; my focus was to do what was required. I did not care where, just a place I could afford and without a waiting list to get in right away before my next court date. I found Faith Farm. It was free and I would deal with the religious thing later. My focus was getting into the place.

Now remember, I was just avoiding jail and all of that business; and as I have learned about myself, thanks to Faith Farm, I am the queen of manipulation and compliance. I can conform to situations, so this religion thing: “Piece of cake” I thought; “I can handle this. I will do what they say. I will say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and whatever they throw at me.”

Needless to say, it took about 3 months of compliance, and lo and behold, the Spirit moved greatly in me. Everything that I was learning went from my head and landed miraculously into my heart. I was saved by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I graduated from the Eastham Home for Women at Faith Farm and stayed on as a Servant Leadership Student (SLS). After serving as an SLS, I resumed my life as a professional chef and moved up to Chicago, Illinois. I was active in the church. I even hosted a Bible study/cooking demonstration class, which drew a lot of people to the study and many became active members in the church.

I was amazed I could walk along side women who had been Christians; brought up in the church. Time went on in Chicago. I found that being in the food industry was okay. However, the hours and lifestyle were not for me. I was struggling to stay in the food industry because my attitude and outlook on life had changed. I had lost the passion for being a professional chef and restaurant manager. My focus on life had changed.

I wanted to work with women who had problems with drugs and alcohol. I was ready to give back what I had received. I was diligently in prayer and meditation about what my next move in life would be. No doors were opening up in Chicago.

Then, one day I received a call from Faith Farm. They wanted me to help run the Women’s Home in Boynton Beach. It was winter of 1999, and the Women’s Home was going through a transition. I packed all of my furniture and other belongings, moved down to Boynton Beach and lived above the women’s dorm.

As I look back now, God was preparing me for something more with each new transition I was taking on my path of life. I was so proud to be part of the staff at Faith Farm. It was an honor and a privilege to work there, and I treasure the experience I gained by working at Faith Farm. Many of my students still keep in touch with me today.

God knows! He always has the big picture in mind, and my experience working with the ladies was preparing me for what I do today. I am now a social worker at a local medical emergency room. I now help hundreds of people a year and daily take the opportunity to share what the Lord has done for me.

I am proud I went through the program at Faith Farm. I am not ashamed. If by telling my story helps one person, then that’s what it is all about.

The Lord took a self-absorbed, career-oriented, selfish and lost woman who just received her 5th DUI and was facing major time incarcerated; God took a woman who did not believe she had a life-controlling problem due to drugs and alcohol; and transformed her today into a beloved daughter of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Patrick: U-Turn to God

Before I came to Faith Farm, all I had were the clothes on my back and a family out there somewhere who loved me and prayed. I was lost and did not love myself. I did not know God. I was living a life of darkness and sin.

As far back as I can remember, my father was an alcoholic. I grew up without him in my life, and I did not know what it was like to have a dad. My mom raised me, my two brothers, and my sister as a single mother. We lived in a middle-class neighborhood, and he worked hard to provide for us all.

I was introduced to alcohol and marijuana at a young age. I was 12-years-old when I had my first drink and smoked my first joint. Starting from there, I began to party. It started out as a weekend thing, and then I began to use every day. My using and the influence it had on me caused me to get into fights and act out a lot in school. I made it as far as the 9th grade in high school, where I failed my first year. My 2nd year as a freshman, I was expelled for fighting. I got sent to an alternative school and dropped out of school when I was 16-years-old. After that, my life involved a lot of trouble. I sold marijuana and was arrested for the first time when I was 17-years-old.

I was placed on probation. I continued to drink and smoke weed, and I violated my probation because I failed to pass a drug test. At 18, my probation officer sent me to my first rehab. I did not want to be there and was in denial at the time. I could not admit to having a problem. I left the program, went back to using, and failed to complete my probation. I continued to get into trouble and had been in and out of jail. I was court ordered to a f ew other residential treatment programs and could not control myself. It only got worse.

I could not use socially. I was not an occasional user. I had become a full-blown alcoholic. I got drunk for a living. I could not keep a job because I was either too hung over to show up, or I was in jail because I did something wrong while I was drunk.

At that time, I feel I ahd reached my rock bottom. I lost my place to live and became homeless. I ate out of dumpsters, went to soup kitchens to eat and bathed in canals or under water hoses. I was living a miserable life. I was depressed all the time.

In 2008, one of my best friends was a student at the Ft. Lauderdale Faith Farm campus. He found out I was homeless. He got a hold of me through another friend of mine. He would pray for me over the phone. Through him, God convinced me to surrender my life over to him.

On April 10, 2008,  I went to Faith Farm and gave my life to Christ. God has directed my heart and my life through the leaders at Faith Farm in Ft. Lauderdale. I was given opportunities and received miracles I never imagined were possible for my life. The journey was not easy. I stayed at Faith Farm for a total of 3 years and 4 months. In that time, with God’s help, I became a Servant Leadership Student, I got my GED, and I went to Atlantic Technical Center to learn a trade and become an electrician. I got my first driver’s license.

I now have my own car and a job in my trade working as an apprentice. I am learning every day and getting the experience I need in order to achieve one of my goals of becoming a licensed journeyman electrician.

God has also blessed me with the most amazing woman in my life. We are happily married. She is my best friend and the love my life. Together we attend church and put Jesus Christ first in our lives and marriage.

To achieve all these things, I set goals for myself and I worked very hard to accomplish each one, one by one. The most important thing was that I trusted God and had faith that he would provide those things for my life.

Since my time as a student at Faith Farm Ministries, I have celebrated my 4th year as a born again Christian. I continue to visit the farm and share my testimony as a good servant of the Lord. I am working hard every day and go to church every week.

 

Henry: U-Turn to God

I avoided His presence in my life for 30 years; living off the flesh and doing what I wanted to do for a very long time. The whole time, I knew that my true higher power was Jesus Christ and the Lord, our Father. I was finally beaten down enough to where I was willing to accept that fact and do whatever it took to bring me here today.

Through the instruction I received here at Faith Farm from staff and students, I’m able to make those adjustments and continue to do the Lord’s will; remove myself from my own will and do what He wants me to do. I still have a long way to go. I feel I still have a lot to learn in the ministry and in the Word.

Faith Farm has given me so much, from the clothes on my back, to the food in my stomach, to the roof over my head. It’s an amazing, chaotic, wonderful place to be if you’re willing to embrace it and let go of your old ways and embrace the new. Receive all the gifts that are available to us here, because they are plentiful.

Coming into the program, you’re going to have challenges. You’re going to have things that are going to try to pull you back to where you were. Just try to remove yourself from those situations, seek counsel, and ask questions. Those around you will lift you up out of those dark times.

I lost my father to his addiction of alcoholism. I had done a year of sobriety, and I had stopped communication with him because my sponsor told me that it would weaken my walk. I wasn’t able to communicate with him for that year. A week after I got my chip of sobriety, he took his life through suicide from alcoholism. I kind of went off the deep end, and that’s what brought me here.

For 5 years, I was just running amuck. I wanted to meet him and I wanted to see him, but I didn’t want to die like he did. I do what I do in remembrance of him. I carry him in my Bible with me, in my heart daily and I talk with him all the time now. That was one of my last walls I had to climb over to get here. I was to get over that and realize that he still loves me, and I still love him.