Troy: U-Turn to God

I started using drugs when I was seventeen years old. I started out smoking pot. I didn’t use any hard drugs until I got to college in 1979, and I started snorting cocaine with buddies. It progressed from pot to cocaine to crack cocaine.Crack cocaine is what really brought me down in life.

When I look back, one of the reasons I got out of control was failure. Every time I turned around, I was failing at something: school, professional career, basketball, career in the Navy, marriages, everything I did, I failed. The more I failed, the worse my using became to hide my pain.

I’ve always loved sports and athletics. That was my escape. That was how I escaped from things like adultery, drugs and being physically abused. Later in life I found out that I became those people. I became an adulterer and a drug addict. What I saw, I became; except I never put my hands on a woman. It was very scary for me to see my stepfather physically beat my mother. I would try to intervene, and he would smack me down. It was very painful. But looking back on my childhood, everything that I saw, I became.

I was always very good in sports, and I got a scholarship to college. Everything that God gave me, it seemed like I blew it, including that scholarship. I was fortunate that I was good enough, and they wanted me overseas to play ball. But I couldn’t stay sober over there, and they kicked me out of the league.

I got back home with the money that I had made and blew $200,000 in about seven months. My wife left me. It was a hard time. I was lonely and had nothing or nobody. I had become what my environment was.

The one thing missing was church. I never went to church. I never had God in my life and it wasn’t until I decided that I was going to put God in my life that things turned around for me. I’m just grateful that God pulled me out of the miry muck I was in and set my feet on a rock to stay. It’s been a hard life.

I remember one of the most painful things was my marriage breaking up. When my daughter was about two years old, my wife joined the Air Force without me knowing. She was working part-time and living with her parents.I was not working; I was draining our bank accounts, using drugs, and it was a real ugly scene.

When my wife came home from basic training, she decided that she didn’t want to be married anymore. That was a blow to me, because the whole time she was gone, I was trying real hard to turn things around with my life so that we could have a life together. Her asking for a divorce was really crushing to me. I decided I was going to join the Navy Reserves to help myself make some money and kind of keep my life going.

After we divorced, I moved back home to West Palm Beach with my mother. She lived in a very drug infested area. I hadn’t been a hardcore user until I moved back to that neighborhood. The more I felt self-pity for myself, the more I sunk into using crack cocaine. I just couldn’t find a way out. I was living on the streets for a while. Nobody wanted anything to do with me. I started stealing and robbing. I was living with my grandfather and I was stealing from him, but he didn’t care. He loved me unconditionally. It wasn’t until he passed that I realized I needed to turn my life around.

When I got to Faith Farm in February 1998, I just thought I was going to get off drugs and try to lead a normal life. I had no idea that God had a plan for me to stay here and to work in the ministry. After getting sober and clean for a while, things started coming back to me. I cleaned myself up and started thinking clearly like the man I was supposed to be. I never once thought I would become Assistant Director or Director in this program. God’s given me all of my family back. He’s given me so much more than I thought I could have ever attained.

 

 

Carlos: U-Turn to God

When I was 2-years-old, my parents, already married for 4 years, decided to get a divorce. My father and I moved to New York with his 2 sisters living in the Bronx. My father worked long hours, so I spent most of the time with my step-family. The next 10 years were hell. I was being abused sexually, verbally, and mentally. I was looking for an escape. by the time I reached the age of 14, I found my escape on the streets of the South Bronx with gangs and drugs on every corner. I started smoking pot and stopped going to school. I got held back in the 8th grade.

I was still spending most of my time in the streets with my friends, smoking every day. I was able to graduate in 1974. I got an opportunity working at Rutgers University, managing 3 dormitories that housed over 500 students. I bought my first car and was doing very well for a few years.

One day there was a big cutback in the state of New Jersey, and I got laid off. I lived on unemployment for about a year and finally moved back to New York. I moved in with a friend of mine, who at the time was dealing heroin. Within a month, I was shooting up, and I never looked back. For the next 30 years, heroin became everything to me. I began selling, and yes, I made a lot of money.

My addiction took off like a bird in flight. Drugs and alcohol became a way of life. Everything that was important became unimportant. My addiction had become powerful and insidious. It knew me better than I knew myself. It took me to places I didn’t want to go. It made me do things I didn’t want to do. I could not see the light; I was blind.

While using, I lived in another world. I experienced brief jolts of reality and self-awareness. It seemed that I was two different people. I tried to get my life together before my next run. Sometimes I could do this very well, but later it was less important and more impossible.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

When I read that verse, I felt something very profound happen. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. Today, I believe God reached down and touched me. Sometimes in life, what appears to be the end is really a new beginning.

I often  prayed when I was hurting; and now, I find myself praying regularly and not hurting as often as intensely. I know praying is asking for help and meditation is listening for God’s answer.

 

Joni: U-Turn to God

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I was raised in a Christian, church-going family. My paternal grandfather was a Southern Primitive Baptist preacher. My family attended every Sunday and Wednesday church service. My mother taught Sunday school; my father was a deacon, and my sister and I were involved in all of the children and youth ministries. I was baptized for the first time at the age of 7 years.

I was always the overweight, chunky kid with self-esteem issues. I was called fat so much that I came to believe it and proved it to be true. I was an excellent student. But, I was also somewhat mischevious.

I started drinking and experimenting with drugs at the age of 15. By the age of 18, I was drinking to intoxication every weekend. At the time, I didn’t think this was a problem, as everyone I hung around with was drinking. I finally fit in, or so I thought. Everyone liked me and invited me to their parties because I was the life of the party, and I was obviously extremely entertaining.

I began getting into trouble at school because of my behavior. I was dismissed from the basketball team and suspended from school during my sophomore year because of drinking on the bus on the way home from a basketball game. During my senior year, I quit school and moved to live with my aunt and uncle in order to complete high school. I have been in many different colleges, many different times, but have yet to earn a degree.

I experimented with many drugs over the years, trying anything that was put in front of me, but the only thing that ensnared me was alcohol. At the age of 19, I obtained an entry-level position with a large financial institution; and over the next 20 years, I had a very successful and lucrative career.

I continued partying and drinking excessively and was charged with my first DUI at the age of 25. This was my life for many years; working all week, partying all weekend, having fair-weather friends, disposable boyfriends, and relationships of no substance. I covered my loneliness and pain with alcohol and food.

In 2000, at the age of 30, I decided that it was time to get married, so I married the first man who was willing. Sadly, we did not take the time to get to know one another. He was an abusive man, and I was drinking in excess. The marriage lasted for 6 months and we divorced. Within the next year, I met and married my second husband.

In 2004, I was diagnosed as possibly being bipolar and was sent to a psychiatrist. This doctor questioned my drinking habits, and his diagnosis rendered me an alcoholic. The next day, I began a 16-week outpatient recovery program and remained sober for almost 5 years.

During this time, I was eating excessively, and my weight was spiraling out of control. In 2007, I had surgery to correct my weight problem. However, the surgery did not fix the unresolved issues on the inside of me.

Our marital problems intensified, so we separated and eventually divorced. I was lonely and misguided, and I relapsed. I moved to New Jersey by myself, which began a tumultuous, three-year suicidal binge. During all of this, I never once sought God.

In August 2009, I came to South Florida for 21 days to a secular rehab program. My sobriety lasted for 5 days. My plans obviously were not working out as I had hoped in the Northeast, so I made the decision to move back to North Carolina. I thought that living in North Carolina, being close to my family and friends, attending church and being re-baptized would help me to overcome alcohol. This was not an accurate assessment.

In November of that year in New Jersey, I drove head-on into a utility pole and was charged with my second DUI. In North Carolina in May 2010, I was charged with another DUI. Fortunately for me, circumstances were such that this DUI was dismissed. By the grace of God, I did not hurt or kill anyone or myself.

In spite of all of this, I continued drinking. In August 2010, I came back to South Florida to re-enter the same rehab center. This time, I stayed for the complete program. They told me that I had to make a life change; so I packed my belongings, quit my job, and moved to Delray Beach. My sobriety was short-lived. In July 0f 2011, I relapsed and found myself on a horrific spiral into hell. I was so broken and empty inside that all I wanted to do was to die. Alcohol was once again consuming my life.

At this point, it seemed that everyone around me began speaking Faith Farm into my life. In August 2012, I was terminated from my job for calling in sick too often. This caused me to pick up the phone and all Faith Farm. I was accepted into the program and arrived on August 30, 2012.

When I came to Faith Farm, I was completely broken and hopeless. I felt utterly worthless and lost. I cried all day, every day, for several weeks. All I could think was that I had been given so much. How did my life end up like this? I now know that I was seeking all the wrong things. Money, men, and material possessions could not fill the void in my soul.

Having lived in my iniquities for more than 25 ears, I proclaim that I have been delivered from my past lifestyle choices, including smoking and my dependence on antidepressants. Today, I am on no medication other than the Word of God.

I now believe that when you commit your life to the Lord and walk in obedience to Him, He will restore you from the inside out. I no longer believe Satan’s lies.

Mikhail: U-Turn to God

I was born and raised in Russia. I got involved with organized crime at the age of 14. I had everything I wanted – money, cars, women, and drugs. I thought I was happy. By the age of 18, I’d been stabbed, shot at twice and I was facing a long prison sentence. I wanted to get away from everything. My mom lived in Florida, so I decided to come to the United States.

In 2001, I moved to Florida to get a fresh start. I got a job and started to live a normal life. After a while, I gave up, on the whole having a job idea and started selling drugs. I had everything, but I was miserable. During these years, I’ve totaled a few cars, got two DUIs and other numerous arrests. I finally got arrested for trafficking cocaine. By having a good lawyer, my charges were lessened to a possession charged. I was sentenced to the Palm Beach County Sherriff’s Drug Farm, followed by a halfway house and a few years of probation.

While on probation, I went to the doctor and got roxys, xanax, and somas. I was using and my probation could not violate me. I quit my job because I was making more money selling drugs. My last girlfriend left me because she was scared for her life. She didn’t know was going to come through the door – cops, feds, or someone to rob or kill us. My life was out of control. I was living in hotels. I was depressed and tired of life. I was trying to kill myself by shooting large amounts of pills, crack, and powder cocaine. I could not stand the person I’d become.

I was desperate. I came to Faith Farm because I wanted to change. Since being here, I found out who God is and developed a relationship with Him. I started to read the Bible and realized that I broke all of God’s commandments. I now know that I was addicted to sin. I got baptized and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now I live in peace with myself.

Raj: U-Turn to God

Addiction doesn’t discriminate who you are, where you come from, how smart you are or how much money you’ve got. My story is not any different than any other addicts. It’s not important how I became an addict and how I lost everything, but what’s important is how God saved me. After I lost everything, I had to move in with my brother, who is a doctor. Every night, I came home

Every night, I came home high and got into an argument with my family. Every night, I promised them and myself that I was going to stop; and by morning, I was doing it all over again. I had a death wish. My family couldn’t take it anymore.

I came to Faith Farm on September 10, 1989. Since I am from India and born in a Hindu family, I didn’t know anything about Christianity or church. Because of that, people at Faith Farm thought I was not going to last more than a week. I felt people of Faith Farm needed more help than I did. I just wanted to be here long enough to manipulate my family so I can go back and do what I was doing before. To survive spiritual giants at Faith Farm, I learned a couple of words like “Hallelujah” and “Praise God.” My plan was to go on my first 8-hour pass after 30 days never to return.

My brother came to pick me up and told me he needed to stop by the hospital. When we got there, I realized my father was in the hospital. A wound on his leg was not healing; and because he was a diabetic, they were talking about amputating his leg.  My mom passed away when I was four years old, and my father raised me. He was my father and my mother.

I was sad and powerless. I wanted to help my dad but didn’t know how. As I sat at the edge of my bed in the dorm, the guy who slept next to my bunk came and asked me about my pass. I told him what was going on and he said, “Why don’t you pray?” I told him the truth, that I didn’t know how. He smiled and said he would pray with me. He told me to ask the pastor to pray for my father on Sunday.

On Wednesday, my brother came to see me. He told me that my father didn’t have to go through surgery and was recovering well. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I knew deep within my heart that God healed my father.

This was the day my life changed. I wanted to know God. This is the God I wanted to serve forever. I ended up staying at Faith Farm for another four years until God opened up a door for me at Abiding Hearths. I ran that ministry for 16 years. I am now back again at Faith Farm for the last 5 years as a teacher to give back to the ministry that has saved my life.

I have been sober for 25 years, thanks to the grace of God and Faith Farm Ministries.

*Raj is an intern who handles training for the Servant Leadership Service (SLS) students, which is an extended program after the basic 9-month program. Raj also handles the IT Department at the Boynton Beach campus.

Drew: U-Turn to God

Came to the Lord in a mission in Fort Lauderdale in 1983. Went from the mission to the Boynton Beach site and spent the next year-and-a-half there, going through the program and an additional program they called Alpha at that time. I’m not someone who grew up in the church, actually grew up in a totally different faith. I still remember the Director of the program back then was Joe Cook, the Assistant Director was Jerry Peterman, and my Staff Member was Ron Meier. My life was forever changed by my time at “The Farm”, and to this day 33 years later I’m still walking with the Lord. I will be forever thankful for how the Lord used Faith Farm to both save and to change my life…

William: U-Turn to God

I thank God for allowing me the opportunity to even be here, because in my eyes, I should be dead.  I shouldn’t even be allowed to live after the way I’ve acted for forty-eight years.  I was being a mean person.  I was a selfish person.

On the bus ride down to Florida from Tennessee, I realized that I was hurt and broken, exhausted and completely at the “end of my rope.” I was totally ready for a change and that change was to get to know God personally and to begin a relationship with Him. God was not a new concept for me. As a child, I was raised in the church. Although I knew about God, I didn’t know Him personally. The only time I turned to God was when I was in trouble and looking for a way out. I figured I was hell-bound anyway.

After being at Faith Farm a few days, I started praying and reading my Bible. Eventually, I got this calmness about me that I’d never had. I had a different attitude about things and my outlook on life started changing. Soon, everyday became a good day, because it gave me an opportunity to do better than I did the day before. I thought it was all me back in the days, but it’s not. It’s about Him and doing His will. There’s one thing that I have learned since I’ve been here; that’s trust in Him.  He has gotten me to where I am today.