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.