Saturday, May 15, 2021

Testimony: From Hopeless to Hope Dealer

 

Testimony: From Hopeless to Hope Dealer

By Celebrate Recovery

Broken Chains from https://www.brokenchainsjc.com/

By Jeff

I grew up as the youngest of 4 children. My mother and father worked full time, leaving my sisters to take care of me most of the time. As I look back, I can see where eating became my way of comforting the lack of attention from my parents. It was easier to give me something to eat than to be bothered with me. I became overweight as a result and spent much of my adolescence as the “fat kid.” Others made fun of me, and I had a hard time fitting in.

At 13 years old, I smoked marijuana for the first time and drank alcohol. Soon I fitted in with the “cool kids.” By age 15, I began lifting weights and boxing. I decided that I would never be picked on again. Getting high and fighting became normal for me as a teenager.

After graduating high school, I joined the Army. I bought a motorcycle for cheap transportation to work. I learned that drinking and fighting were all I wanted to do during my off-hours. Soon I was shot in the leg in a bar fight. This took me off my feet for a while, and I again put on weight. During my time off, I began hanging out at a biker bar. I soon realized the biker gangs accepted almost anyone. In fact, as a violent drug and alcohol abuser, I not only found a place to fit in, but I soon became a leader. I went AWOL from the Army, received a dishonorable discharge, and spent the next 15 years as a motorcycle gang leader.

For years I was a functioning addict and alcoholic. Shortly after my big sister died in 2001, I tried crack cocaine which spiraled me completely out of control. Three years later, after putting my parents into bankruptcy, abandoning my daughter, and dropping out of treatment twice, I became homeless.

I was homeless for three years, in and out of jail. In 2006 I was arrested over 30 times. I ate out of dumpsters, slept in the crawl spaces under houses, and on cold nights I would walk all night because I thought if I stayed still, I would freeze.

On March 1, 2007, I was arrested for the last time. After a month in jail, I had what we call in recovery a moment of clarity. The truth is I didn’t want to quit getting high, but I did want to quit going to jail. I realized the only way to stay out of jail was to stop getting high.

I reached out to the only person I knew in Nashville that did not get high, Doc Ray Elder. Doc was a biker preacher that I had met in the bar several years earlier. He was happy to hear from me and invited me to church.

April 15, 2007, I walked into church for the first time. Long hair, t-shirt, blue jeans …. I was waiting for the judgment, but it never came. These people were nice to me; they loved on me. In fact, they loved me right back that next Sunday. April 22, 2007, I had a life-changing experience as I asked Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life. That day something changed in me, but everything didn’t change. I still struggled with more bad behavior than I have time to list.

Three weeks later, I was invited to a Celebrate Recovery meeting at another church. I remember telling them that Jesus had delivered me from my addiction and I didn’t need a recovery program. Reluctantly I agreed to go.

That first night at Celebrate Recovery, I was amazed. I remember how freeing it was to attend a share group; to be able to be honest about myself without shame or embarrassment. I realized I didn’t have to be perfect to be a Christian which allowed me to be honest with others about my faults and failures.

As I plugged into the 12 Steps and 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery, I uncovered the roots of my problems that I didn’t even realize were there. God cleaned me up from the inside out, and I began to live out the principles Jesus gave us to have a happy life.

Today, I am celebrating 14 years of sobriety from drugs and alcohol one day at a time. God has restored broken relationships with every one of my family members, including my daughter. I have a wonderful Christian wife with a new family that loves me. I own a successful remodeling company, and I’m an ordained pastor.

After serving as a Celebrate Recovery North Central State Rep for seven years, I founded the Broken Chains Jesus Christ organization. We are a fellowship of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts who have found hope and healing in Jesus Christ through Celebrate Recovery’s ministry, helping others realize that change is possible. In the last four years, I’ve ridden my motorcycle over 80,000 miles.  Sharing the hope I’ve found with people I might never meet in church, at gas pumps, hotel desks, convenient store checkouts, motorcycle shops, and more.  God is not only using me to reach these folks, but Broken Chains has grown into an army of Hope Dealers. We have over 4,000 members in every state in the United States and at least 12 countries worldwide. God is using us to let people outside of the church know about the hope and healing we’ve found inside the church in Jesus Christ at Celebrate Recovery.

The enemy came to steal, kill, and destroy God’s purpose in my life. He was successful for 44 years. But when I plugged into the process of recovery, the process of discipleship that I found in Celebrate Recovery, I got my hands on the tools Jesus brought so that I “might” have life and have it to the full. I’ve learned that salvation is free, but freedom here on earth cost everything. I’ve given God everything, and Jesus has given me the full life I spent 44 years looking for.  Thanks for letting me share!

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