Like a lot of young people, I was looking for acceptance from my peers when I began my addiction journey. I was thirteen years old and met some boys who lived on my street. These boys taught me how to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and smoke marijuana all in the same week! By the time I graduated high school, I began to experiment with powder cocaine, doing an “eight ball” every weekend. I always seemed to be searching for peace and contentment in the bigger and better high. During my junior year of college, I had the terrible idea that if snorting cocaine made me feel good, freebasing it had to feel even better – so I made the tragic mistake of trying crack cocaine for the first time. I was instantaneously addicted to crack, and it became my drug of choice.
Surprisingly, in spite of my addiction, I graduated from college and got a good job. My motivation for work was simply to support my addiction. Most people think of crack users as poor, indigent people with no education and no hope for a future. Here I was, well-mannered, well-dressed, well-educated young man that knew how to play the role of not only a model citizen, but a model Christian. Yes, believe it or not, I began to faithfully attend church approximately the same time I began my life of drugs and alcohol. That sounds hypocritical – because it was! I went to church as a boy to please my parents and later on as an adult to please my wife – three times a week in church but lived like hell the rest of the time. But as with all addicts, my life began to spiral out of control, and I lost my ability to conceal my secret life.
Little did I know that God was working during this worst time of my life. I was twenty-seven years old, and went on a five-day crack binge, stealing a car and going on a high-speed chase that landed me in Florence County Jail. The day I was arrested was the best day of my life. That was the day that I finally believed what so many of my family and friends had been telling me for some time. My life was out of control. Crack cocaine had become my master. It was only after I landed in jail that I cried out to God and asked Him to help me. My wife – the true hero of this story made the loving choice to stop enabling my addiction and insist I enter a one-year Christ-centered addiction program.
It was in that program that I found the peace and joy I had been searching for in drugs. I found it in a personal daily relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about religion, what man does for God. I had practiced religion during my addiction, dutifully attending church services. But rather understanding that Jesus Christ is a real person that desires to spend time with me on a daily basis through Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. I found that there was freedom from bondage in obedience to God.
After graduating from the one-year Christ-centered addictions program, I came back to Florence, got a job, and began attending and serving at the Florence Baptist Temple. After having conversations with my Pastor, Bill Monroe, the decision was made to start a Christ-centered addictions ministry in our church. The first several meetings of that program were held in my living room. After only a year the program grew to the point where Pastor Monroe asked me to serve full time as the program director. God has allowed us to continue to grow and we average 130 students on Friday nights and 95 on Sunday mornings.
I know firsthand the power of a local church-based Addictions program. The Lord has blessed me with nearly 25 years of victory. During the last 20 years of our addiction ministry, we experienced disappointments and challenges, but we have also seen people freed from the bondage of addiction, families restored, and lives rebuilt for the glory of God!
We are hosting the FBT Addictions Conference: “Better Together” because we desire to encourage and equip other pastors and churches to continue or to begin a local Christ-centered addiction ministry. Even the world is acknowledging the drug crisis that is sweeping the nation. Does the church have an answer? Is there a word from the Lord for those struggling in addiction? Is there any hope? We believe the answer is a resounding, “YES”!
Register today to join us from March 13-15, 2024, at Florence Baptist Temple.