Jeffrey: U-Turn to God

I was raised by my dad and moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The atmosphere around me was usually filled with drugs and alcohol. By the time I was 9 or 10, I was used to it. I felt like it was the normal thing to do. Around the age of 12, I tried my first joint. After that, I would try to find ways to do it again. I thought it was cool. Everybody did it.

I turned away from all my friends that made good grades and took life seriously – my real friends. I was turning into a different person and after my dad and I got into a fight, I started failing in school, and I didn’t care.

This is where I fell into a very depressed state of mind. It wasn’t until my mom and her boyfriend at the time, came and got me to live in North Carolina, that I lived without using and drinking.

On April 18, 2004, I lost my dad due to long-term drug and alcohol use. This bothered me, but deep down, I forgot who my dad really was. There were times he was very abusive, like when I didn’t perform in school or sports. On the other hand, he taught me good life lessons, like how to be polite and to do my best in everything I do.

I have to say that being the man I am now; it affects m e not to have a dad. I think this is why Jesus makes Himself known to me so much. The only real time I experienced God in my life is when I was younger. During the summer, I would go to the Catholic Church once a week. This was a part of my life when the seed was planted. During my sophomore year of high school, while living with my grandparents, I received Holy Communion and Confirmation. After I left their house to move back to North Carolina, the tables turned. I walked away from the church and did my own thing. I lost my girlfriend of a year that I truly loved, and I fell down hill quickly.

I was hanging out with the wrong people, drinking heavily, smoking marijuana and cigarettes. It got worse and worse; drinking until I didn’t remember anything from the night before. There was a time when I came close to death, waking up to gargling vomit on my friend’s floor. This was a time in my life where I needed God in my life; and boy, did he show up.

I went to live with a couple I knew for 30 days so I could straighten up and get God in my life. During that time, I attended church twice a week and listened to a lot of Baptist preaching. I also had one of the best experiences of my life, when Brother Chuck was talking about getting saved and what it meant.

Since that day, I’ve truly never been the same. After I left their house, I moved to Florida. I lived in a couple of halfway houses until I had nowhere to go because of my drinking. I called Faith Farm, talked to Brother John, and had my first “top bunk experience.” I made it all the way to Class 6, but because the lack of confession and my past sins still haunted me, I went out and medicated and was dismissed. This was one of many bad decisions I made. Here I was again with nowhere to go.

After going around the circle again; going back and forth between staying sober and drinking, I returned to Faith Farm for the second time. The first week I was here, I cried to God, “No more, I’m tired of going back and forth.”

One of the things that helped me at Faith Farm was confessing my sins to someone I trusted. I have been giving the devil too much credit. I’m my own worst enemy; that’s why putting the flesh to death is very important.

Faith Farm has given me a chance to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, to get my mind right and to figure out what’s really important in life: God, people and spreading the gospel.

Levi: U-Turn to God

I came here mentally, physically, and financially broken. I came with a promise to myself and my mom; that I would leave here mentally, physically, and spiritually stronger. God blessed me with every opportunity to do so.

I believe I was led here to Faith Farm by God through a prayer I sent out a couple of weeks prior to winding up in Pinellas County Jail. I asked God to please get me away from this chokehold that my addiction was causing on my life, because I was running out of options. By this time, I had been contemplating ending my life.

God answered my prayer while I was in jail. I was still in medical for my withdrawal from opiates. A young man sat up as I was walking back to my bed – a young man I had never met before. he asked me if I believed in God. I answered, “Yes!” He then told me to take down the information to Faith Farm Ministries.

It was not until around Class 2 when I began to learn who God is, what Jesus stood for, and the amazing power of the Trinity as a whole. On February 17, I was baptized; finally becoming dead to sin and alive to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The following week, I received my results from the local health department and found out I tested positive for hepatitis B. The nurse told me I was still infected from 2008, and since I was never treated, it’s now considered chronic.

Just a couple of weeks prior, we had a guest speaker named Santos give his testimony, and I remember him mentoring that he was healed of his hepatitis without treatment by putting his faith in God. Therefore, once I found out I still had hepatitis for the second time, I began praying for help and standing in Church, whenever prayer for healing was offered.

On March 1st I went to the medical center in town to give blood in order to begin treatment.The following week, I returned for my results. I was called into the doctor’s office expecting the worst. Reading my results, the doctor began to look at me. Puzzled, she said she wished half the people that came into her office had results as healthy as mine. She said I was not going to need any treatment. There was no sign of hepatitis B in my bloodwork anymore.

That day, I learned just how awesome God is. I am truly thankful that my prayer was answered. God showed me just how powerful His healing and redemptive hands are. I came here teetering on foreclosure of my home, in debt, and an addict. Also, I was in fear that I had blown any chance of ever owning and operating my dad’s air conditioning company.

I am thankful for the redemptive power of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, and anticipate living my life through His guidance and will.

David: U-Turn to God

I was raised in a Christian home. In 1983, I attended a Christian school, where I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and friend.

My grandfather taught me good moral values and how to help others whenever I could by following the example he set for me in our community. I tried the bet I could. Not building on my new relationship with God, I started to slide into a long life of sin.

I had my first been when I was 12 years old. The older I got, the more I drank. I was very active in sports all throughout high school, and drinking was the thing to do. It was socially acceptable. Three months before my graduation in 1989, I quit school due to my drinking and marijuana usage. Later that year, I got my GED; my parents got a divorce; my mom was diagnosed with cancer due to smoking, and I had started a lawn maintenance business with my brother-in-law. To say the least, it was a busy year for me.

In 1992, after a 3-year battle with cancer, my mom passed away at the age of 48. She is in Heaven now where there is no more pain or suffering; where I will see her again. This is where my life started a downward spiral emotionally and spiritually. I was angry at God and my mom. I gave up my business, I didn’t work for the next 2 years and I spent a small fortune my mom had left me. All I did was party and gamble.

In 1993 I got married to my high school sweetheart. That same year, I bought into a small Italian pizzeria in my neighborhood. After a short time of sobriety, I began to party and gamble again. I sold my share of the business.

On October 19, 1999, my son Joshua was born. This was one of the happiest days of my life. God had blessed me once again. Soon after we purchased a house and some investment properties. Life was good, so I thought.

In 2002, I started Hopwood Enterprises. With the new construction boom, we were doing over a million dollars in sales and had a workforce of over 25 employees. I still continued in my sinful ways. I had everything I needed in life, except a relationship with God. I began using painkillers for my shoulder and back pain that resulted from one of 6 major accidents I had been in over the years. All the accident vehicles were totaled.

What started out to be a helpful thing for me, the devil quickly turned into an evil thing. Once I realized that taking these pills would make me forget all my pain and misery from the sins of my past, it was on.

I tried cocaine for the first time in my life at the age of 35. I wanted to make up for lost time, and I was off to the races. On a road to destruction, minutes turned into years. Before I knew it, I was divorced and had lost another business. Not only did I lose it all, I felt like I was dead. Satan had me right where he wanted me. Even though I had my friends, family and God on my side, I felt alone, afraid and horrified about where my life was going. I was knocking on death’s door.

Broken physically, emotionally and spiritually, I cried out to God. Once again, He heard me. he told me to call Southwest Florida Addiction Services. For the third time in my life, I was in this detox center. This time God had a plan for me; I just didn’t know what it was. My sister had heard about Faith Farm from a friend, but I didn’t know much about it. All I knew was that it was a Christian-based program. I knew that I needed to get my heart right with God and start building the relationship with Him that I had been putting off for the last 30 years.

Not knowing what the heck I was doing, I left my house to a roommate I had only known for 5 months. I gave away most of my clothes to Teen Challenge, and I sold my Jeep and what was left of my possessions. Then I went to my sister’s house to wait to go to Faith Farm.

Within weeks after I left my house, it was broken into. My roommate was pistol-whipped, beaten to a paul, and taken to the hospital. After he was released from the hospital, he was arrested due to selling oxycodone, dilaudid, and heroin to an undercover informant. My house had been under surveillance due to drug activity for several months. After a short time in jail, he bonded out and was killed that night. If I hadn’t stepped out in faith and left everything, I wold have been right in the middle of all that mess. Thank you, Jesus, for your grace and mercy.

That’s how I ended up on those green benches waiting for intake. As soon as I crossed over the bridge to Faith Farm property, I felt the Holy Spirit. My dad even mentioned His presence. I knew I was in the right place.

If you are following God’s will in your life, you will be tested. The devil doesn’t like what you are doing. He will use anyone he can to get you away from God’s calling for your life. He doesn’t want you to find your calling. he fears that because he knows God is going to use us for His kingdom and glory.

 

Niles: U-Turn to God

My road to alcohol addiction started early, at age 9, when I found the keys to my dad’s liquor cabinet. I tried it all, but really fell in love with his not-so-secret stash of Budweiser.

All through high school, I played sports while drunk over 90% of the time. I eventually went to the University of Houston on a full-ride golf scholarship. I stayed around long enough to earn both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree. I was drunk so much of the time at the University that I don’t remember a whole lot of my time there.

After college, I was offered a job as the Warehouse Manager for one of the largest Burger King franchisees in the country. It was there that I fell in love with the trucking industry and really wanted to learn to drive 18-wheelers. The owner of the company was a retired trucker who offered me a chance to learn to drive.

After a successful 20-year career, everything came to a crashing halt when the doctors informed that I would no longer be able to drive 18-wheelers due to spinal stenosis. I no longer had an excuse to go on the road to sober up. To ease the pain in my back, I drank. I eventually sold all of my equipment and my company and moved from South Carolina to Las Vegas. I figured that a new town meant a new start. My drinking got worse and worse.

One morning after a long night of both drinking and poker, I fell asleep at the wheel of my car in the parking lot of my condo complex. It was then I realized I had a problem.

I remembered being at Faith Farm for a short period in 2004, so I got on a Greyhound bus and headed to the Fort Lauderdale campus. When I walked through the gates for a second time, I knew I had to finish it this time, or I was a dead man. I had totally disconnected from God and had let alcohol become the most important thing in my life.

Nine months later I graduated from the program. During my time in the program, I was afforded the opportunity to put my experience and talent to work. I was allowed to revamp the dispatch system to make it more efficient and easier to use. This was the break I needed to see some small measure of success.

A second measure of success came when the Director gave us an opportunity to form a softball team. Even with a bad back, I tried out and was named the starting pitcher. It was another success for me, and I finally felt like I was on the road back to normalcy.

I stayed on after I graduated until I had an opportunity to follow a new career path – television. This too was a potential trap for me. It involved a person who was actively using drugs and alcohol. When I saw this, I moved on to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and I took a job with the Allentown Rescue Mission Workforce Development Clean team as a sales and marketing representative.

I am truly blessed to have gone through the pain and difficulties during my 19 months at the Farm. It gave me a great foundation to stay sober, and God isn’t done with me yet. Anyone who asks me how and where I got sober, I tell them Faith Farm.

Nicole: U-Turn to God

I was raised in New Jersey in a large Jewish family. I attended Hebrew School and had my bat mitzvah at the age of 13. I experienced verbal and physical abuse.

Like many Christians, I also felt the hatred and fear from others because of my Jewish faith. There were many days I would wake up only to go outside and find swastikas spray painted on my house, front lawn, and car windows. That was the beginning of my anger, rage, and fear.

I started associating with different crowds of people and that was when I started doing drugs to be accepted. That did not work. I just continued to go deeper into my drug use. There were many times I was doing lethal concoctions of cocaine, GHB, crystal, ecstasy, and valium in hopes that I would close my eyes and never wake up.

I always knew there was something missing in my life, but I never knew what. In my search, I just continued to get high, which led me to legal troubles and being arrested. All the while, it was slowly destroying my family. I was sinking deeper into my addiction and not caring who I harmed along the way.

A large portion of my adult life was spent in and out of jail. You would have thought that would have kept me sober, but it did not. Most times, I was high before even leaving the jail parking lot, even after being in there for a year.

As I continued to sink deeper into my addiction and drifting farther and farther away from my family, I discovered opiates. I could never have thought that tiny blue pill could have such a grip on my life. It was quickly squeezing the life out of me, and I did not care about anyone. How could I when I did not even care about myself.

In February 2008 my father became ill. In the midst of him having a heart attack, I was too high to drive him to the hospital. I made him drive himself. Eight days later, he died. I was so far into my addiction, I barely remember his funeral or the flight back to New Jersey.

I was arrested again on August 9, 2010, after stealing from my brother, his wife and her family. That is when I knew I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I needed to make a serious change in my life before I lost my family completely; or even worse, ended up dead.

I was court ordered to another program but left there after just 5 months. I came to Faith Farm on March 30, 2011. That wast the best day of my life. God has used Faith Farm to save my life.

Faith Farm has taught me to soften my heart, and it allowed me to love others again; and most of all, to love myself. It has taught me to hold my head up high and be proud of who I am and where I came from.

God has filled my life with peace, joy, love, and strength. Most of all, He has given me my family back.

Steve: U-Turn to God

For 39 years of my life, I have acted out of ignorance and unbelief, and God has been merciful to me.

Throughout the years, my family has been tremendously stressed and our relationships strained due to my alcoholism and addiction. At the root of our family, there is still an unbreakable foundation of love; a love that has persevered through tough and tragic events; a love for one another that has prevailed enough that I am blessed to have them here today. They are still 100% supportive of my efforts to change.

I also have a 9-year-old son. He slobbers a lot, he sheds profusely and has bad breath. His name is Bruno and yes he is a dog. He is a Boxer and has been my ultimate companion throughout the years. In the darkest days of hell on earth in my addiction; Bruno was always there to keep me company when I was alone, devastated, broken-hearted and confused at my life.

As a child, I always struggled with feelings of insecurity and anger. I was uncomfortable being me. I was a bit of a chubby kid and food was my comforter for many years. My father’s career was highly demanding and his success allowed our family to want for nothing.

My interests as a child and teenager were in music. I was a drum player and dabbled in piano. I did not have an interest in school and I was not a good student. My insecurities as a kid manifested themselves in a variety of dysfunctional behavior. Fighting, lying, manipulating and other acts of rebellion were defining characteristics of mine. At an early age, it became all about Steve.

I was baptized Catholic but church was rarely attended. By no means did I know the Lord. I loved a life based in ignorance and unbelief.

At age 15 I discovered alcohol and high school parties. There was an immediate relief and release that I enjoyed when consuming alcohol. I graduated high school and began community college. I soon discovered ecstasy, electronic dance music, and the Orlando and South Florida late night club scene. I traded my drums in for some turntables and began to pursue being a club DJ. Alcoholism and drug addiction ran rampant in my life. My life was full of chaos and drama.

In 1996 I was introduced to my first detox and subsequently Alcoholics Anonymous. For the next 17 years, I would endure a battle of sobriety and relapse.

When I wanted nothing to do with the Lord; He protected me and shielded me from great harm. When I was sober, His grace led me to many blessings. Sobriety without the Lord still afforded me good things in life. I completed college at the University of Missouri and graduated with academic honors.

I met and married a wonderful girl. I was blessed with a career in medical device sales. I bought a new home and the list goes on. I found my identity and self-worth in those things, and what I really found was that I was still lonely and empty. Instead of doing what would have been right and just for all the blessings I had, I did what I hate. In my adult years, alcoholism and drug addiction would send me to detox countless times, as well as numerous in-patient and outpatient treatment facilities. I have also had 2 suicide attempts. I lost everything on 3 separate occasions. Unbelievably I have never been arrested.

Never once, until Faith Farm, did I discover the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Having been given so many blessings from God in a life without recognizing Him, I am trying to imagine my life in sobriety with Him; worshipping Him, loving Him, seeking Him, and honoring Him with the way I live my life.

 

Evan: U-Turn to God

My mom and dad wanted me to be a happy kid. My greatest childhood memories are them simply telling me that they loved me, which was always, I know they did their best for me, but the reality was that they lived very hard lives.

I was born late in their lives. I was referred to as their love child, and that title was very cool. But something went wrong. I began to witness their physical and emotional pain. I experienced stuff that I just didn’t understand. At the age of 13, my brother and sister had already married and moved on. My dad was disabled from the trucking business, so he gambled and hung with his friends. My mom was always at work, and I returned from school to an empty home. I felt lonely. I was frustrated and angry. I accumulated an odd list of complaints as if the arrangement wasn’t working, and chose to use the same breath God graciously gave me to curse him.

I took to the streets playing the role of a tough street kid while aligning myself with a species so deceived they lusted for God’s job. I was assured that I would be strong by their side. Within a short time, I witnessed tragic stuff, and eventually, I went to jail. When I got out, i excelled in school and all sports. My goal was to further my participation and become a sports professional. I was chosen to matriculate in the first vocational high school in New York.

Aside from athletics, my hobby was to read about famous living people and then write to them. They would reply to me with letters that had amazing content and financial value. Through my writings, I became friends with Maime Doud-Eisenhower, George Burns, Andy Warhol, and Senator/VP Walter Mondale. In my mailbox, it was not rare to find a handwritten letter from Dr. Christian Barnard with a hand-drawn diagram of his first heart transplant. William Schockley sketched his blueprints for the transistor for me. Neil Armstrong would overload me with handwritten moon-walk quotes.

These experiences enabled me to be recognized for my unique approach. I began encouraging students to embrace the hobby. I consistently requested to speak at various upscale conventions and auctions held in New York Cit. I gained membership at clubs; like the Manuscript Societ, Pen and Quill, and the Universal Autograph Collector’s Club. I had gained unrivaled education in this field and as a teenager, I amassed the largest collection on the east coast. Soon thereafter, I converted from collecting to dealing in presidential documents and sports memorabilia.

In the course of my journey to  Manhattan, I met journalists for pro wrestling publications and was invited, as their guest, for the wrestling matches behing held that evening at Madison Square Garden. Subsequently, I was invited to join the private get-together at the wrestler’s hotel, where I was approached by a well-known wrestler/manager. Lou Albano asked me if I would consider becoming a wrestler. Although I was in my early teens, I understood show business. Being a big kid, I would fit the part.

I quickly learned this unique trade, fashioned my appeal and gimmick. Even though I wasn’t of age, fellow wrestlers vouched for me to the state athletic commissions. In those days, formal proof of identity wasn’t significant. If my cause was backed by famous pro wrestlers, then that was good enough for the politicians collecting a share of the ticket sales. I was to become an attraction. Here I am, a Jew to the bone, playing the role of an Italian wrestler.

I dropped out of high school trusting I had met my aim of becoming a professional athlete. I journeyed to incredible cities and was making unbelievable money. Moreover, people believed I was special. They desired to be around me. The more attention I recieved, the more I began expecting. In due course, I craved attention.

I was exposed to the popular drugs of the 70s and was attracted to the lifestyle. By age 18, my identity was governed by drugs and a need to be valued. Several years later, the state athletic commissions learned that I falsified my initial wrestling application; that I had been untruthful about my age. I failed to reveal my juvenile justice intervention. I was suspended for two years. I was shattered.

Although i continued to use drugs, I did accomplish much. I completed school and studied the law. Many were optimistic for my future. I lingered around other sports, where I developed into a prospect. I began a small dry cleaning business and sports marketing promotion. Yet, regardless of what I accomplished that I perceived as good, I was unable to hold onto it.

By age 18, I habitually depended on drugs and lived an extreme lifestyle which led me to jail. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life incarcerated. My only contact with religion while in prison was when a chaplain called to tell me someone died.

Amidst the tragedy of September 11, 2001, my son Johnny, who was 6 at the time, says to me, “God bless the people who died. God bless God! God bless Jesus! God bless everyone! God bless me and you forever.” Although I didn’t know where this “God stuff” was coming from, I was grateful that I chose not to point to the burning towers as an illustration; as proof that God doesn’t exist. Since that day, I’ve slowly been transformed. I’ve learned that trying to prove God exists is like defending a raging bull.

As I was awaiting another prison sentence, I met my now good friend and brother, Mark, and I was introduced to Faith Farm. Although I refused to insult the court and request going to Faith Farm as an alternative to prison, I made a commitment with mark to stay the course and enter Faith Farm upon release. I kept that commitment.

Upon arriving at the Okeechobee campus, I was given the work assignment as a calf caretaker. My thinking was muddled because I believed I was better than that. I believed I had the skills to make a difference in other work assignments, like trucking. I had no problem if they wanted me to make pizza every day, or even an office position…but cows?

The time had come for me to do what I said I was going to do. I went out to the pasture and the transformation was awesome. Upon my arriving at the calf field each morning, those little baby calves would see me, and they would skip around and make funny sounds, which I perceived as sounds of joy.

I am certain that it was God’s intent to take this 50-year-old Jewish kid from Brooklyn, place me in a perfect paradise, and brand me a cowboy. God organized my heart to observe my supervisor Bill, who loved those calves. This is where I began to comprehend what God’s love was like. This is where I began to experience genuine love. I quickly recognized that i needed to see someone love something before I could love it myself. God answered prayers on that calf field. Nature has become a part of my relationship with God, and I’m grateful for those babies.

My dream today is so big that only God can fulfill it: It’s remaining in relationship with Him and living a loving lifestyle; to be a father to my son; to help others and hurt no one. i need God’s elp and your prayers for that.