My name is Pierce. My story starts like many others…
I had a great home growing up, with two wonderful parents. Yet, somehow, I always felt empty inside…something was missing.
To mask the emptiness, I did anything to make myself feel better and, by the age of 14, I found myself seriously addicted to drugs. This ranged from using drugs and alcohol, to unhealthy relationships with girls, to even physical fights with other guys just to feed my ego. By 17 years old, I had been through several treatment programs and arrested over ten times. I was as bad off as one could get.
Then a seed was planted…
As I sat in my jail cell, I was introduced to a book…”The Cross and the Switchblade.” It was a book about how David Wilkerson was prompted by God to start Teen Challenge to help guys like me. Teen Challenge was in my head. I even started the enrollment process at a center in Texas but went back to using after leaving jail. But I couldn’t get the idea of Teen Challenge out of my head.
Then my story took a turn…
At the age of 17, I finally committed and enrolled at Ozarks Teen Challenge. It wasn’t but a few days into my stay that my story drastically changed. I gave my heart to the Lord. What drew me to the Lord was honestly the peace and love that I saw in the staff members. When I heard their stories, I realized that they had been where I was, and I also realized that I wanted to get where they were. Happy…loving…peaceful. They were fathers and husbands and I just remember wanting that peace in my life. So you could say I showed up looking for something and I almost instantly found what I was searching for in the Lord.
During the program, I turned 18 and made the decision on my own to stay and complete the program. During this time, I saw restoration not just in my life, but throughout my whole family. My brother even got clean and came to know the Lord! Upon graduating from Ozarks TC, I was accepted into a Bible college in Georgia where I attended for one year.
My story took another turn…relapse.
After a year at Bible College, I found myself burned out. I was serving and pouring out so much, that I had neglected to take care of myself spiritually. I left college and ministry all together, moved back home to Dallas, and turned my back on the Lord. It was not long before I found myself yet again doing drugs and roaming the streets for nearly six months. Looking back, I know that I should have died during that time.
My story wasn’t over…God was not done with me.
In fact, the Lord was with me throughout all of that, by my side, protecting me. I was a spirit filled dope addict. Lots of Christians will turn their heads at that statement, but that’s just the truth. God was not angry or mad at me, His heart just broke for me because I was His son and He hated to see me like that.
Throughout the whole process, the leaders at Ozarks TC were reaching out to me. I remember telling them, “keep praying, I think something is breaking through” my leaders literally prayed me back to this facility. The Lord put on my heart to call and I committed to go and do an internship. I knew I needed to quit running from God. During that internship, I was able to refocused nearly every area of my life. My relationship with the Lord became stronger than ever. I even worked through the problems I had created with my family.
God has a call and plan for me…
Today, I’m healthy and feeling good once again. After completing my internship, I was hired on as a part-time support staff member at Ozarks Teen Challenge to help provide peer mentoring; and I’m now attending college, pursuing a business degree. God has shown me that He stayed with me throughout those turns in my story and used them to strengthen me and my faith. I’m an example of God’s grace; a reminder that just because we mess up, that does not mean that we are failures. It just means that we are human and we have to get up and keep going.
If you feel yourself getting burned out, take time to fill up spiritually. Don’t give up! Relapse is NOT inevitable, learn from my story.
If you are in the midst of relapse, God has NOT abandoned you. Listen for His voice, He’s been there all along. Your story is not over…turn back to Him!
Life is not a fairy tale. It’s messy and many times difficult, but God’s love never fails…the Author of Life is always ready to help us rewrite our stories.
-Pierce, A Grateful Son