More than Conquerors!
Friday evening, March 9th, I was asked by one of the guests at the homeless shelter if I had a few minutes to talk. I could tell right away that there was something different this time. Eric had been staying with us for a few weeks, it wasn't his first time here. Eric is a tall but thin man in his mid 30's, his teeth damaged from years of drug abuse. Eric was normally cheerful and always ready to jump in and lend a hand whenever it was needed. Now sitting across from me, I knew something wasn't right. His eyes which were usually friendly and genuine wouldn't make contact with mine. He was restless in his seat and fighting back the tears. I sat quiet for a while to let Eric own the space, I could see him searching for the right words.
Finally in a somber release of emotion... "I'm done" he said. "What do you mean Eric?", I asked. The tears began to flow. "I'm done with fighting, I've screwed everything up, I don't know what to do, my life is so screwed up, I'm a full fledged addict again, I think about ending my life all the time and I don't know what to do, I need help." Eric had relapsed and he knew he was in trouble. Not only was he living in a homeless shelter and addicted to prescription medication, he was also facing a legal battle that could soon land him significant prison time and the possibility of loosing the most important thing in the world to him, his daughter.
We asked Eric if we could pray with him, he agreed to that. It was clear Eric had a conceptual belief in God but had never really developed a personal relationship with Him. I knew exactly what Eric needed to become whole again. He needed a Christian centered recovery program. He needed to get out of this shelter and get into an place where he would be surrounded by others who've been through similar battles but achieved victory. He needed to live in a clean and sober environment with brothers in Christ there to pick him up when the day was dark and down. He needed to let go of his personal freedom for a while and allow someone else to control his schedule. He needed to rebuild a new and healthy routine with full immersion in daily bible study, worship and prayer. He needed a powerful movement of God in his life. He needed Teen Challenge. The question was, was he ready to make that kind of commitment? 14 months is a long time.
I took a phone call last week from a number I didn't recognize. It was Eric. He called to thank me for taking him to Teen Challenge. He was less than 2 months in and he sounded like a different person - he was a different person. I had to fight back the tears of joy as I listened to Eric relate to me one victory after another. How God had softened the judge and prosecutors heart in his court case, how his teeth were all getting fixed and how he had given his testimony in front of dozens at a church. He explained how God was creating in him a completely new heart & he had a new lease on life. The decision to join this program was the best choice he had ever made. No longer living a life of shame and condemnation, through Christ, Eric is now a conqueror.