Damon: U-Turn to God

I was born the youngest of 12 and brought up in a very dysfunctional family. My father was an alcoholic and my mother was co-dependent. To say the least, I never knew where I fit in. I was always trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was an overweight half-breed and didn’t like the color of my eyes. I was always in trouble. >ooking back, I was just trying to fit in.

I remember when I was 13, my half-brother molested me. And for a guy who just wanted to fit in and be loved, I allowed it to happen. I never told anyone, and for years I hated myself. I started smoking pot and hanging out with the older crowd; again just trying to fit in. It felt good and I was accepted for who I was. At 28, I was sentenced to 3 to 5 years in prison.

I thought my world had ended, and then I heard a small voice inside me saying, “Seek Me.” I did and all was well.

I got released and went back to my old ways again. I found myself drinking and drugging more than ever. I would try to seek help but never listened to what they told me. I would always tell myself it’s not that bad. By this time, I had been in and out of detox, jails, and institutions.

At the age of 32, I met my wife, fell in love and had a baby. I finally felt that I fit in. The only problem was I still did not want to give up the booze and drugs. Thank God she did not put up with it. I realize now she was the best thing that ever happened to me. It wasn’t long before she divorced me. Then my mom died of cancer and I felt all alone. Then there’s more detox and jails.

At the age of 49, I am walking down the street. I see a hole and I fall in. The next day, I am walking down the same street and I see the same hole and I fall in again. Next day, I see the hole and I walk around it; what a concept.

I heard that small voice once again telling me to call detox, they’ll help you. I went back and forth with the Father of the Universe, like I knew better. I was telling God, I’ve been there too many times and I have no money. He told me again. I called and the lady asked me “How long would it take fo ryou to get here?” and I started crying like a baby.

I told the staff at detox, “Either put me in jail or get me in a Christian-based long-term treatment program.” They said Faith Farm was the answer. I told God I would go and do anything He wanted me to do.

When I got to Faith Farm I dove into the Word. I obeyed the ones God placed over me, and today, I can say that I have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and mankind. My daughter writes me often. My ex-wife speaks to me, and my family tells me how proud they are of me. I am working on my GED. I am able to help others without any other motives, and today, I can say I truly fit in somewhere.

Roy: U-Turn to God

On a Friday evening in September 1990 or 1991, I was in a motel room getting high when police officers knocked at the door. They were responding to a disturbance call, and they were given my room number. There were 2 police officers: one was an older, seasoned officer; the other was a younger, eager officer. The older officer stood in the doorway preventing the younger officer from getting into the motel room. Each time the young officer maneuvered or attempted to enter; the older officer would pivot and block his access. They never gained entry. The older officer said, “I don’t know if you are involved in any of this, but I know one thing, you need to get out of here.” If the younger officer had gained entry that evening. I would have been in a jail instead of Faith Farm.

I had previously been in the VA Medical Center’s 30-day program. It resulted in very little change. In 30 days, I was drunk and dysfunctional again. While at the VA, I obtained a pamphlet about Faith Farm. Lo and behold, I needed another program. That’s when I began to re-establish my relationship with God.

I grew up in the church with my parents and grandparents. Church and Sunday school were a part of my southern heritage. I knew about God, but the personal relationship with Him didn’t matter to me at that time. When I came to Faith Farm, I had a feeling of peace and became engulfed in learning.

As a veteran, I was very organized, thorough and methodical about accomplishing tasks. The structure at Faith Farm was not unfamiliar to me. I started as a truck driver and became the best. The first 4 months were basic service and work therapy. The body was in need of regeneration. Then, I began the Alpha Program.

The Alpha Program opened my eyes to how God really works. It reminded me of my military service: its 6-week duration; how it was regimented; the organization; structure and timelines. It brought me an understanding of the absence of God in my life.

The worship at Faith Farm was so much a part of experiencing the presence of the Lord. The fellowship with men who were seeking in the same direction is something I couldn’t get anywhere else.

Upon completing the program, I continued to drive the truck each day, and I had the opportunity to continue my studies while mentoring a lot of young men that were new in the program.

During my addiction, I had lost my family. But, as I continued moving forward, God began to pen doors and communication began. God starts to talk to me about reconciling my marriage. I went to California and reconciled with my wife and child. Within a year’s time, I had relapsed into my addiction and found myself homeless again in California. This is what brought me back to Florida and to Faith Farm the second time.

I had to do something different than what I had done before. Initially, I drove the delivery truck but was promoted to be the new houseman, with a half day of work and a half day in Alpha Class. It gave me purpose: To be with 12 men; be a big brother to them; to sit in classes with them.

When it was time to leave Faith Farm this time, I didn’t rush. In fact, it was staff that told me it was time to go. I went into a new community program called Abiding Hearts, and I began to implement some of the things I had learned to live out the truth. For the next year, God continued to groom me for His purpose. I had no knowledge of substance abuse treatments or clinical education. I wasn’t familiar with AA and things that were critical for my recovery. So this gave me an opportunity to continue learning for another year.

On December 31, 2011, Faith, Hope, Love, Charity opened StandDown House for Veterans. I knew that was coming and that men and women were going to war. Knowing that residual from Vietnam, I had to do something. I understood exactly what was coming down the pike.

Over the next 10 years, God has been blessing the ministry. Within 6 months of opening the facility, we were adding beds and then again, more beds 6 months later. And the blessings continued.

God continues to use me to bring about change and move things according to His plan. It is God supplying needs and opening doors, without negotiation or manipulation. God has always told me, “Wait on me!”

Faith Farm has given so much to me. When our doors opened at StandDown House, everything we needed came from Faith Farm. They said, “Whatever you need, come get it.” They provided all the beds, furniture, even the freezer and other kitchen equipment. This is how Faith Farm has continued to be a part of my life.

Adrienne: U-Turn to God

Something very important I have learned during my journey of building a relationship with God is that God’s plan has never changed for y life. It is my decision whether or not I choose to obey and follow the path God has destined for me. Because God is such a “gentle-man” and does not force us, He allows us free will. Like me, you may have chosen the wrong path long ago, ignoring the road signs of death and destruction along the way. Since God is a forgiving, loving, and merciful gentleman, should I fall short and react wrongly, I can still choose to follow Him the rest of the way. In His mercy, He will bless and honor my choice. It is never too late to follow God’s lead in a crisis.

God’s plan never changes. We can always choose that narrow path of His will for our life. The way that seems the easier, softer way is not necessarily the right way. My dad always said, “We are smart if we learn from our own mistakes. But, we are really smart if we learn from other people’s mistakes.”

I came to Faith Farm out of desperation. I was in recovery for almost 2 years when I relapsed, gave up and then overdosed. From there, I went to a detox center in Tallahassee, Florida. I was tired and lost in the wilderness when I decided to call my uncle, who is a graduate of the program and now works at Faith Farm’s Okeechobee campus. I put off entering the women’s ministry at Faith Farm and ended up in jail with 3 drug charges.

I believe God rescued me, yet another time, from my self-destructive behavior and my fruitless life. From jail, I called my uncle and told him I needed help. I told him I would do anything if he would get me out. He and my aunt came, but only on one condition; that I go to Faith Farm.

I decided I was now running out of options and in a lot of trouble. I now know God will do what He has to do in order to get our attention. We can resist and just make it harder on ourselves.

God gave me four beautiful children: two girls and two boys. The past 6 years, I have been a part-time mother and a part-time child of God. He has always wanted me to have a full and complete relationship with Him, so that I can teach my children to have a relationship with Him. The time I have spent here has equipped me for this and any other “calling” the Father has on my life.

The past 9 months have been the hardest of my entire life, but also some of the best times of my life. It has been a spiritual battle within myself and against all my fleshly desires. Completing this program is definitely a miracle of God! I could not have done this in my own strength. I daily surrender my life and humble myself before God and His will for my life.

I have a long way to go. Several obstacles and temptations lie ahead for this next season in my life. Now I stand firm on the Word of God and hold tightly to His almighty hand.

Joshua: U-Turn to God

What brought me here to Faith Farm is the same thing that brought most of you. My life had, somehow, through one or more addictions to substances or compulsive behaviors, become completely and irreversibly screwed up. By the age of 28, I had become addicted to pain pills. I had done everything in my life with an all-or-nothing attitude. That method of living didn’t work out with prescription drugs.

For the last 10 years, I have been on a rollercoaster from hell, in and out of detox, halfway houses, 28-day, 42-day or moth-long rehabs, homeless shelters, hospitals, and jails. I have been prescribed drugs in order to keep me off of other prescription drugs.

My life had become completely and deeply rooted in all things involving chemical dependence. I had completely submerged in active use of white-knuckle assets. As you can imagine, this way of life quickly becomes unacceptable to acquaintances, friends, family and law enforcement. I had forsaken those who loved me and chosen to align myself with those who hate me and wanted to destroy me.

I had become many things that God did not create me to be; a loner, an uncaring, selfish user of people and a scandalous, deceitful liar. Those are not the words I would have used at the time to describe me, but I was more than willing to let the devil use those words to describe me. I had submitted myself and my life to the enemy to do whatever he pleased, which was nothing good.

My lifestyle had severely and completely damaged some relationships and destroyed others. You would think after all this; one would finally reach a point of desperation. The point at which you would bend your knees, extend your arms and beg God for anything that would stop this chaos. That’s what I did. God answered.

I was led to Faith Farm. I called and showed up, willing to do anything it took. After being here for about 24-hours and after a night of restless detox sleep, I was no longer sure I was still willing to do anything it took. I took one look around the first morning at chapel. In my expert opinion, I came to the conclusion that everybody here is nuts.

Despite all the moronic things I’ve been doing the last 10 years, I still considered myself quite sane and wanted nothing to do with this happiness and love. What I called it at that time was mass hysteria.

I learned that God has the ability to open doors that no one can close and close doors that no one could open. In other words, God slams shut the doors that lead to any means of escape from here. I’m stuck! God knows what He’s doing. I slowly began to learn to accept there is another way, another path I could take that didn’t lead to absolute destruction; a path that is the way, the truth, and the life…Jesus!

Up to this point, I always believed in God, but I did not think God believed in me. I know now that no one could love creation any more than the Creator. I learned that One who formed the world and created all things in it, loves me. I wanted to know that my God; all-seeing and all-knowing; could do all things, if I would just let Him. I wanted to believe.


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.