Hello, my name is Joe, and I live in Chatsworth, Ga. At age 17, I asked Jesus to come into my heart, and I believe He did. But I never understood how to get Him into my LIFE until over 20 years later, at the age of 40. All those years I had been telling God what I wanted Him to do, and all that time, He’d been waitng for me to ask Him what He wanted ME to do. Oh, all the wasted years, the broken dreams, hearts, and shattered lives. The family and children whom I loved SO much (and likewise)…GONE. How many times I had begged God to take the drug addiction. How many times I had begged for the return of my children. How many times I had flirted with the thought of suicide, but I never got what I wanted; I only got worse.
Then one day, in an act of total desperation, I fell down on the floor of my lonely home, and began to plead with God, with my whole being (all I had left), “Lord, what do You want from me? What do You want me to do? I don’t really want to die, but I can’t live like this anymore! PLEASE help me! PLEASE tell me what You would have me to do- I’ll do ANYTHING!!!”
Well, it was just that simple. He wanted me – not just my problems. Although I had to struggle for a while with addictions, and ended up in jail ONE LAST time, before I turned everything completely over to Him, and was set completely free; even so, now we have a personal and very loving relationship, instead of just an affair! Now I know that He is MUCH MORE than just some genie in a bottle that you let out to grant a wish, and then put back on a shelf. No, HE’S GOD!!! The more I seek to know His will for me, the more I learn to serve and please Him. And the more I serve and please Him, the more I learn to worship Him. And the more I worship Him, the more and more He pleases me and blesses me, day after day, time and again, over and over; with much more than I would have ever dared to ask for!!! The terrible oppression of over 20 years of acute drug addiction and alcoholism…COMPLETELY GONE!!! Now I’m laughing and ENJOYING LIFE again much more than ever before! And I now have a purpose in life: “TELL OTHERS!!!”
One day, I was painting on the outside of the church building where I was employed, and I was thinking that a lot of people were going to be slow to accept me, because of my terrible past; when I very distinctly heard someone say to me: “You will be a POWERFUL WITNESS!!!” WHOA, I almost fell off the ladder! Soon afterward I was asked if I wanted to help start a jail ministry in that church, and we began to go to the local jail…as MINISTERS, where I spent MUCH of my life (behind bars), and I encouraged others to try giving themselves WHOLLY over to JESUS!!! Many of the inmates knew me; many were once some of my closest friends, back when I was “Joey the Junkie” (or Joey “Jones”, mockingly, as I would do just about anything for another dose), and they were AMAZED at the complete turn around – the difference that the presence of God has made in my life, and what God is doing in and through me! Many of them told me over and over how proud they were of me! But I was quick to tell them that it was certainly nothing that I did; I could never do ANYTHING right! All I did was call on God, and submit my will to Him, and He did (and still does) the rest!!! I told them that He would be just as sure to do the same for them – if only they would freely want Him to do so! But they have to be willing to give it all up – a life of misery, total failure, and slow but sure death…for a life of JOY, COUNTLESS BLESSINGS, and ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD as our FATHER!!!
And though I am no longer in full time jail ministry, God uses me, almost everyday; and I am proof that there is REALLY hope; a SURE way to break that last needle, ONCE AND FOR ALL; and live a MUCH better life in Christ Jesus, and with all the benefits that come with being a “SON OF GOD!!!”
Listen, maybe someone, somewhere, at sometime will read this, who is standing in the same shoes I used to walk in. My father died at the age of 32, with cirrhosis of the liver, from a life of acute alcoholism. I was 11 years old. Then my mother, who had been a pharmaceutical drug addict, and in and out of Milledgeville State Hospital in her past, died less than two years later, at age 33; I was 13. I was so confused. I felt unloved, unwanted, and so alone…believing the lies of satan. In reality, I had family who loved me and wanted (and tried) to help me, and even more so, I now know that God wanted to help me, but I wouldn’t let anyone close to me. I felt that anyone I loved, DIED! I began to be rebellious against family AND God.
So I started doing other drugs, besides pot, which I had been smoking since around 11; harder stuff, like pills (both uppers and downers), acid (LSD), and psilocybin (psychedelic) mushrooms. Somewhere around 16, I used the needle for the first time. Then at 17, I was court ordered to a Christian drug rehabilitation center in Corpus Christi, TX for one year, where I had asked Jesus to save me, and I even stayed on another year, as a staff member. And I thank God for Roloff Enterprises, and the Lighthouse, where I learned to love God’s word, and some very important values, but I had never totally surrendered my life to Christ. I held on to my rebel pride (proud of what, I may never understand), and that old liar began to whisper once again: “You’re a rebel and an outcast; live hard and die fast!!!”
So I left (before God said to), and there I went again. The choices I made drew me away from God. The deception of satan made me believe that I would always be just like my parents, and that I would die by the age of 32 or 33; I believed it was my destiny!
BU…when I was STILL ALIVE at 35, realizing I had outlived them, I decided that I might live a while longer, after all. I had SO destroyed my life by then. Though I had never been legally married (that is, I had never had a licensed marriage), I had three children by two different women who had lived with me, and I had been divorced two times (there used to be a common law marriage in GA; no more), The youngest 2’s mom shot and killed a man when our daughter Tiffany was one year old, and our son Joseph was only a month old! She was in prison, and after raising these two by myself for three and a half years, the state took them from me (though I loved all my children with all my heart; and vice-versa), because I was jail prone, and had no one else to help with them, when I got into trouble with the law. Then my oldest, Candy (who’s mom had remarried), was mad at me for losing her half brother and sister, and she stopped coming around. There was nothing left to live for…or so I thought.
FINALLY, all the wrong choices and the long hard roads led me RIGHT BACK TO JESUS. I was like I had walked around the world, on burning sand and frozen seas, until I came back to my REASON FOR LIVING – it was JESUS, ready to HEAL and FORGIVE!!!
So, it wasn’t too late for me after all. Several of my past friends are now dead. Some of them died from drug overdoses, and some from drug/alcohol related accidents. Some got killed over drug deals gone bad. Some blew their own brains out. Others are in prison (some for killing others). I think that at least one is now demon possessed, but doesn’t realize it, or else can’t accept it, in order to deal with it. I am very blessed to be alive, and have my sanity; much less all the benefits that have now come from turning to God. Oh, but to think of how sweet my life could have been, if I had simply trusted God to begin with. Nonetheless, life is great, because God is SO GOOD!!! So LOVING and FORGIVING!!!
People, please don’t ever walk away from God. Believe me, His way is SO MUCH BETTER! If You have left God’s will, please come back, right now, today! Each day separated from God produces destruction, ruin, and death, but each day in His presence adds to life, and that more and more abundantly, as each new day unfolds! May God bless you more and more, as you seek to please Him.
“Thank You, God, for loving us SO MUCH!!!” – Joe R.
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