If you haven’t done it yet, read Part One.
Factors That Made Me Turn To Jesus
by Stephen Smiley
All through those years growing up, God was trying to reach me in many ways. For one thing, my grandma and grandpa, on my Dad’s side, always prayed for me and told me God had a plan for my life and one day I would grow up to be like Stephen in the Bible. I didn’t get to visit them very often, but when I did they would share the love of Jesus with me, even though I was not into it. I guess I believed what they were saying was true, at least the fact that there really was a God in Heaven. I just never understood or wanted to understand that He wanted a real relationship with me.
I have had the pleasure of sharing my testimony many times and it seems I could even or have even told so many different versions of it as it came to mind or what The Lord wanted me to share of it based on who was listening. So I guess this version is for those of you reading this now.
While abusing drugs and alcohol all those years early on I believe God was trying to get my attention. The meth took over everything else and I began staying awake for days, weeks, then almost a month, 27 days total was my record! Many times I would borrow Mom’s car or someone else’s and say I would be right back, and be gone for days. One time in particular I did this with a friend’s car. I went to get some meth but was gone for three days. When I returned, the last thing I remember was exiting the car, and then I woke up in my bed at home with a swollen jaw and balloons floating in the air. I guess what happened was after I exited the car my friend’s brother was there to welcome me back and hit me in the face and I fell to the ground and hit the back of my head on a parking pylon. I was 15, he was in his 30’s and he had just paroled from prison.
My jaw was broken from the blow to my face. I had a concussion and 47 stiches on the back of my head from the impact with the concrete. My jaw was wired shut for 17 weeks and I had amnesia for three days. To this day don’t remember anything except getting out of the car and seeing my friends brother. It was long miserable experience to say the least and he ended up going back to prison upon the detectives investigation, which made me a look like a snitch in the drug world — not good!
I wish I could say that was my turning point, but it wasn’t. I got better and went right back to the drug life. By this time my addiction was so great that I had begun to sell meth to support my habit. Many other things happened during that time but I will leave that out as I think you get the point.
By now I am age 18 and have been an addict since age 13. I have put my parents, my family, my friends and anyone else who loved me through hell, over and over again. One week after my birthday I was arrested for joy-riding and possession of meth. My Mom was a bail bonds agent at the time. I was released on my own with probation. Later I would be arrested for unlawful driving of a vehicle and possession of a controlled substance. I was sentenced to six months in county jail. Upon release I was on three years felony probation. Next I was arrested for sale of meth, false information to a peace officer, and felon with a firearm. I was sentenced to three years and eight months in state prison. I paroled after 13 months for good behavior and got a job in the grocery business and was quickly promoted to management and was clean and sober for three and a half years.
Finally, I was arrested on October 8th 1998 for manufacturing meth. I was in possession of 17 pounds of chemicals. Like I said before, I have hundreds of drug stories I could go on and on about during this time, but I will keep it brief and to the point. All the events leading up to this point were God trying to reach me? You see, every time I was in trouble I would run to God and beg Him to help me and deliver me from my situations. Behind bars I would read the Bible and even go to church trying to impress God and prove to Him I could do enough well for Him to love me.
December 20, 1997, while I was in the middle of a major drug deal, my mom had a brain hemorrhage while snorting meth and was on her way to the hospital in an ambulance. Back in those days I had a pager, and so I received a page from my girlfriend at the time, and she stated that my mom had overdosed on meth and was on the way to the hospital. I was very upset that she had done this, and because I was trying to do business and was being bothered! Nothing could prepare me for what I would see when I arrived at the emergency room! There was my Mom, her eyes open but cross eyed, tubes going down her throat, and her skin was a different color, and her body was kind of inflated. I know that sounds strange, but it’s the best I can explain it.
I talked with the doctor and he said her chance of survival was 1 in 50,000. My heart dropped and I just knew she was going to die! He said she was going to be air lifted to another hospital for surgery. Man was I glad she wasn’t staying here at this one, because I had clients that worked there and I didn’t want any of them to be the ones working on my mom when they were under the influence of meth.
I went outside to watch the life flight helicopter take her away, and I got down on my knees and cried out to God to save her, and if He did I would follow Him and quit the drug life. Here I was trying to wheel and deal with God as if that were possible, and He knew I would not yet be ready to surrender. But, He did save her life! At the other hospital my grandparents on my dad’s side were there and as the neurologist was leaving the building after an all-night surgery, they stopped him and pleaded with him not to leave but to stay and give my Mom a chance to live. God touched his heart through my grandparents and he chose to stay and complete the surgery. God saved my mom’s life through that doctor!
But, even in the midst of all that, it would take me yet another year before I would finally bow my knee to Jesus. During this time my mom was in recovery and I could not handle the pressure of caring for her and all the crazy things she was doing because she was not yet in her right mind and was able to sign herself out of the hospital and left the free care she was receiving, and tried to come home and do it on her own with my help. It was a disaster and I was not equipped for it! I rented her a house down the street from mine and I basically paid here bills and kept her fed, but that was all I could handle. I was the worst possible son I could be, and I just got in deeper to the drug world.
While all this was still going on, I was heavy into using, manufacturing, and selling meth. I was in way over my head, and I liked to be the man with all the money, women, and meth! I don’t want to go to deep into this stuff but I will mention a few things. I made more money than I knew what to do with, so I just spent it all as fast as I made it on foolish things. I had the finest friends money could buy. I was always looking over my shoulder for someone to rob me. You see, when I was younger and new to the drug game, I would often fall asleep after being awake for so long. But when that happened I was usually at some ones house and my so called friends, would take my drugs, money, and even my car, leaving me to myself! I was so embarrassed, angry, and just beside myself so many times and couldn’t believe this would happen to me. So, needless to say, I was a bit on edge around people, always thinking in the back of my mind that they would rob me if I ever turned my back or fell asleep.
During my time as a manufacturer, I had blown up the lab at least two times that I can remember. Once in particular, the loud popping sound of the 22 liter flask that exploded while in my hands was louder than anything I had ever heard before, and I thought for sure I would be dead! Just to be clear, I should be dead, there is no reason I should have survived that ordeal. The glass and chemicals alone should have done it, but God, is all I can say!
Well I didn’t die and I didn’t get caught and I thought I would quit everything, but I didn’t. A few weeks went by and once again I was back at it. I decided to hopefully do one last big one before I called it quits, in the hopes of retiring. It was October 8th, 1998 after midnight. I was supposed to get it all done starting that night, but I wanted to fool around a bit with a girl I knew who was friends with my girlfriend at the time. Yes I was cheating on her with her friend. On the way to her house I was pulled over for supposed speeding, and ultimately arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
The cops obtained a search warrant for my house where they found 17 pounds of chemicals to manufacture meth. Along with a house full of other things I wasn’t supposed to have. They took all of it and even my dogs and girlfriend. The game was over! They kept me in a cell where I had no contact with anyone all night while they searched the house, and let me out in the morning to general population. As I exited, I saw my girlfriend in handcuffs and I knew it was all over.
That night as I thought about all that had transpired; I realized that I had been running from God all these years and it was time to be done. With all the evidence against me, I thought I was looking at 25 years or so. I was terrified! I remember getting down on my knees and crying out to God and asking Him to come into my heart and save me, forgive me of my sins, and please never leave me. I didn’t know really how to say it right, but I was certain that I was ready to give Him my whole heart and that I was willingly surrendering my will to His. I asked Him to take away anything and everything in my life that would keep me from totally following Him. I knew I wanted Jesus to be The Lord of my life. I didn’t want to be alone anymore, I didn’t want to be a drug addict, sex addict, liar, and thief, fill in the blank, I knew I was a wretched sinner and made my gods out of those things. But now, I was washed in the blood of Jesus and I was immediately transformed from darkness to light, and I knew it right then and there, it was real and I was different for the first time in my life. I was free in Christ Jesus my Lord!
I went back to court to face the music, and mind you that I didn’t ask God to get me off the hook, I didn’t make any deals that I could never keep. I just wanted Him to be with me, and hold me close through all this craziness, and however many years I would get in prison. Well, for sake of time I will give you the summed up version. After all was said and done, God did a mighty miracle on my behalf. The evidence against me went from 17 pounds of chemicals, to ¼ pound of finished product, and I was sentenced to 2 years in state prison! God was demonstrating just how big He is and how He can do whatever He wants with anyone who will let Him be in charge! I had zero to do with it and God did all of it. You see, I was pleading guilty to everything and they were letting my girlfriend go. I was also trying to marry her in court before sentencing, but God had other much better plans for me and the judge decided against it. I am so thankful for all of it, and having been in prison before, I knew I could do it and God was on my side.
During this time Jesus changed everything about me. No more smoking, drugs, porn, cussing, satanic music, etc… I began reading the Bible, praying, going to church, eventually leading worship, and becoming the inmate pastor on the yard. Yes there were many struggles, but to God be the glory, He delivered me. I had Grandparents who never stopped praying for me and some good brothers-in-Christ to do the time with. On Easter Sunday, 1999, my mom and her mom, both received Christ at an Easter service they attended! I had Chaplain Bemis and his wife Darlyin who never gave up on me and always encouraged me to follow Christ and be submitted to His will. I was able to write my Dad letters as well and he found a new wife that loved him and they are still married. All my parents are now saved by the blood of Jesus!!!!!
There is more to the story — read Part Three tomorrow!
Bio :: Stephen lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife April. He is serves as a youth pastor at Coastline Christian Fellowship. From time to time he also has the opportunity to preach to the church congregation. You can find these sermons here.