[From a brother taking GFI counseling courses while in prison]
I was born in Tennessee in 1965. As most kids in the area where I spent the first 15 years of my life, I played sports and did the activities of the typical boy who loves the outdoors.
Around the age of 13 I had developed a lot of insecure behaviors due to rejection and abuse. My dad was an alcoholic, and my mom was very passive and insecure. Our family life was very dysfunctional, so I started my journey into being a rebellious child, and started sneaking around drinking, then smoking marijuana. As things got worse, I lost interest in school, friends, and all things that mattered. As the years came and went, I did all I could to seek approval and acceptance from my dad. Yet, nothing worked, and I found acceptance in drugs, and alcohol, and sex.
Eventually I reached a point in life where I became an isolated person, and all that mattered was the drugs. This went on for years and my entire life was consumed with drugs and the lifestyle that the drugs brought my way.
During all these years my mom would remind me of her deep love for me as a son, and how God loved me, Jesus loved me, and that she was praying for me. Yet, being the rebellious son that I was, I would deny their existence. I claimed that God was just something people had conjured up in order to control others.
Finally, one Friday night in 1997 a man pulled a gun on me in a drug deal gone sour, and pulled the trigger. I’ll never forget the “click,” yet the bullet never fired; I was able to get away unharmed. However, my truck was riddled with bullets, and I had been robbed.
What I didn’t know that during this time my mom was on her knees praying for me because God had awakened her and told her I was in trouble. Two days later I had this revealed to me by my mom during a conversation with her. It was at that moment that I thought that there must be something to this God and Jesus that my mom kept praying to, and telling me about. So, not long after this, I got curious and decided to listen to her talk about the Bible and being saved. I then went to church and was “saved” (or so I thought).
In reality I was just going through the motions, looking for acceptance, and I was looking in all the wrong places. So it was at this point that not only was I rebelling against my family, I was rebelling against God, who I knew existed. In 2009 I finally reached the point of brokenness. I felt as though I couldn’t go on, and I no longer wanted to live. However, every time I had thoughts of giving up, two distinct Scriptures kept coming to my mind: Proverbs 3:5-6, and Hebrews 11:1. Then I hit my knees for the first time in my life; at 43 years of age I had nowhere to turn but to God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. What He was revealing to me in these verses was that I needed to have faith, trust in Him, and quit relying on self-will. If I would do that, then He would take over and direct my steps. So I did exactly that, and it was from that point on that God has continued to restructure my life, and show me just how real and powerful He is!
The first man who God brought into my life was Mr. M., who God used to help teach me what I needed to do in order to establish a relationship with God our Father. He started by guiding me into a Spiritual 12 Step Study and giving me extra Scriptures in order to help me to realize what I need to see about my new identity. After I completed the Study, this brother gave me a book that he said was the foremost book in his spiritual journey; it is called Handbook to Happiness, by Dr. Charles R. Solomon.
It was this book that opened my eyes to what my relationship with God was supposed to be like, as well as what I needed to do in order to live a life worth living. This book not only opened my spiritual eyes, but it gave me hope. And after reading it a second time, I decided to write Dr. Solomon to thank him for what his book had done for me. It was at this point that God opened another door, and made it possible for me to learn more about myself (and why I had lived as I did) by giving me the opportunity to study more of Dr. Solomon’s books through the GFI Counseling Institute correspondence courses.
God also put it upon Dr. Solomon’s heart to send a man to me whom he had mentioned, Mr. S. He has been such an inspiration to me, and has continued to stand by me as a brother in Christ, mentoring me, helping me to understand the depths of God’s word and teachings of GFI. He is like a dad to me as well as a friend.
To this day God continues to teach me and all three of these men have continued to help me grow in my walk and in the knowledge of how to “Be in order to Do.” God has also used many others to help me to be the man I am today: GFI Staff, and the prayers of these people and their families. God has opened doors for me to attend college from the moment I left the County jail and got into the Texas Prison System, and He continues to open doors for me to learn and teach others about Him, and “Exchanged Life” counseling and ministry. I am so very thankful for all God has done for me and for all He continues to do.
Today I am at more peace than I have ever been, and I truly feel acceptance by the One Who I know loves me–my Abba Father. And I know as the seasons come and go, God will continue to mold and shape me into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) and teach me (John. 14:26). I could tell many stories about all that has happened and how God has had His hand upon me, but what is important is that God has given me something I never had: “Love,” with Salvation, Security, Assurance, Acceptance, and the Attributes of Christ, all because “I” surrendered, and turned to Him. Thank you Jesus!