I was born in 1978 the fourth and last child to parents who were lost and highly dysfunctional, but did the best they could with what they had. Being the baby I was not disciplined much and my home life was very inconsistent and unstable. My father was an alcoholic, which killed him at age 55, my mother dealt with mental issues she is still fighting today. That being said I was just a bad child, rebellious, mean, and out of control. I started using drugs and drinking at the age of 14. I graduated high school with high honors and was into college to be an engineer when real life hit. I quickly lost my full scholarship because getting wasted was more important than school work. I went to work full time for minimum wage to support my drug habits which would last for 14 more years.
For 9 years I was somewhat functional then after failed treatments forced on me by my family I was arrested for DUI in 2008. With no license and much anger towards everyone I spiraled into crack smoking and intravenous use of any substance I could get into a needle, especially opiate painkillers. In 2011 I learned how to make methamphetamine and injected every bit I made for the next year. This led to mental illness and hallucinations and an arrest in April 2012 where I could have been charged with 53 felonies. One of the narcotics officers who arrested me told me over and over I was better than this, and I needed to use this opportunity to get help. I was like I am going to prison for years how is this an opportunity. In jail a few weeks later with an abscessed tooth so severe my vision was getting blurry I was sitting in medical in county jail when a family friend stopped by to check on me. This guy was now a lieutenant in the jail and also an Iraqi/Afghan War veteran, someone I considered to be the opposite of a criminal junkie like me.
As I sat there hopeless, sick, nasty, lost, and totally broken this man called me Brother. I lost it and cried like I had never cried before, in front of career criminals from all over the world as our jail is a Federal ICE detention center. This was the culmination of a lifetime of God pursuing me in the midst of my sin. When I was 5 I walked the aisle of Calvary Baptist Church to ask Jesus to save me. This was one of the few times we went to church while my parents were separated. At 15 I went to church camp in Tennessee with my aunt’s church where I encountered the real conviction of God. Yet within 6 months I stopped going to church again and turned to drugs and drinking. The next 18 years God would remind me of the call and His mercy, but again and again I would run deeper into sin.
Soon after breaking down in jail I made it to a chapel service where on April 29, 2012 I again asked God to something, but instead of asking Him to fix my mess I simply called His name. Within a few weeks I received an offer to go to state prison for a minimum of 3 years. With all the charges I could have been given, I was told that if I didn’t accept my first offer they would only increase. With my possession charge alone being minimum mandatory 10 to life fed time I figured I better take the 3 years. Little did I know that while this was going on in jail Teen Challenge had did a rally at my sister’s church. After hearing my story spoken by other men who now were clean and happy, God moved on her heart to reconnect with me after years of me treating her like dirt and owing her tens of thousands of dollars.
After I signed my first offer for prison a new offer came in for probation and Teen Challenge. Well 7.5 years later I am still here, as Program Manager. Here as a student and still today God chases me down with mercy and grace. I see that He drew me at age 5 so He could own my soul in order to save me from my worst enemy, MYSELF. Teen Challenge was and is still today the best thing that ever happened to me next to salvation, and without which I would be dead both physically and spiritually. God used Teen Challenge to save me and is using it still to help me be the husband and father He calls me to be of the awesome family He gave me 3 years ago. There is no other place like Teen Challenge and this is the best job I have ever had.