Growing up, I came from a home of addictions; my mom was an alcoholic and my dad was a workaholic. Life before I knew God led me to a point of suicidal living and a life of crime. After years of drug abuse, illegal activity, and isolation, I ended up in jail. Jail is where I first picked up a Bible and started reading it. It’s where I gave my life to God, through a spiritual experience, and how He led me to Jericho Road. It was at Jericho Road that I began to live a life that had purpose, through the direction and guidance of others. God used Jericho Road to mentor me, to father me, and to help me become the person I am today.
Learning these new spiritual principles started by reading the Bible and letting God teach me what surrendering looks like - pointing out my selfish and self-seeking desires. Jon Ruby once told me the only way I can become a better person is if I give up self. I didn't know what that looked like until I started reading the Bible and realised God is the one that will give me the willingness to start changing my old behaviors to new godly behaviors.
Coming from a background where I was always doing what I wanted to do, it was hard to accept correction. But I learned to submit to authority, to submit to God and to accept where other people are at and not to judge. Jericho Road gave me away of experiencing community - which I never had before.
Throughout my whole life, my relationship with God was nonexistent but in jail it became more of an intimate, personal, one-on-one relationship. As soon as I started the Jericho Road program, I was introduced to church for the first time. The church introduced me to homegroups where you would gather once a week and get to know the body of the church, as well as the people. For the first time in my life, I did not feel judged, instead I felt loved by the people I encountered. Now my relationship with God isn’t just an intimate one, but I’m able now to experience God through other people, through the church, through life circumstances, and through nature. I'm able to experience God wherever I go, it's not just at church or when I read the Bible but it's an intimate, personal, outwards 24/7 relationship.
Over the last eight years I've grown into a man that appreciates other people, even when we disagree. I lived my life so selfishly, only caring about myself and now I have a new purpose - to help others. Jericho Road provided that opportunity for me, where I could take my newfound purpose and be useful to others and my community.
Recovery is a simple definition for me today. Putting God first in everything I do. That looks like putting others first before myself, spending everyday learning about myself, about God and trying to help anybody that I encounter. Living a life of recovery looks like being there for other people who are struggling, to be an encourager; to be an example of what God can do in their life.
Over the last two years, I have been talking with my mentors about what it would look like beyond the walls of Jericho. At the time the fear overwhelmed me, and I told myself that God brought me to Jericho Road, and this is where I am so this is where I will always be. But over the past year or so, God has been showing me that it is time to move - He's got something different out there for me. The fear of the unknown kept me stuck in my thoughts. I stayed in them a little longer than expected but I think I needed that time to make the decision; to be obedient to God and not to act out of my own selfishness and fear. God directed me to focus on my family as my first ministry, and to trust Him. He wired me in a certain way, and I know He has something for me that is in line with that wiring and thinking, something I know will be more life giving to myself and those around me.
Leaving the security of Jericho Road is going to be one of my biggest challenges. This community has been my family, and everything I've known for the past eight years. Since I've come into recovery, the fear of the unknown is very real to me. I do not have the experience for this next season to come, everything is so new to me. But this is where I need to lean on God and to trust Him in these next steps.
Changing careers and going to school are all things that I never thought would be possible, but God showed me that they are, and He has already provided me the way forward. I need to just keep trusting Him through this whole process. I think that's the hardest thing, to trust through the unknown and not to rely on my own strength, this is the key for this new season.
Recovery is based on three key parts - the fellowship, the steps, and being of service to God and to others. Moving forward, recovery looks like staying in community, always being part of other peoples lives and being willing to help in any way or form. The spiritual experience for myself is my daily conscious contact with God, to just follow His voice and to let Him lead.
Friend of Jericho