I was born in Manchester, Kentucky, and while still in the state lived in Oneida. By the time I was 18 years old, I had lived with five families in three different states.

I had only met my dad one time that I can remember before I turned 21 years old. I didn’t realize it until after I was born again, but I continually looked for approval and love in a world that does not care about me.

I can remember early in life feeling unwanted and like a mistake. I did not run straight to drugs, but as a boy, I remember realizing that people coming to my house would literally trade the shoes off their feet for the drugs they were looking for.

Drugs were directly responsible for separating me from every person that I cared about early in life.

In high school I started out partying, which carried into my early 20s when I began partying more and more. I can see now I was looking to run from the emptiness and brokenness inside of me — trying to fill a huge hole in my heart.

I worked hard in the coal mines and saved to start my own business in 2011. I was concerned about losing my business during the winter since a motorcycle shop is very seasonal. Everyone around me was already going to pain clinics, and I knew all about it.

My family had been involved in drugs and criminal behaviors for generations. Before I knew it, at age 23, I made a horrible decision – I started going to a pain clinic.

Just like the Bible says, I began to reap what I was sowing. I eventually started doing Oxycodone to have it in my urine for my check ups to keep getting a prescription. I soon acquired a new set of people that I dealt with regularly, which turned into surrounding myself with people doing the same kind of stuff I was involved in.

Fast forward to 2017. I had been getting everything from the guy who was supplying many other people with drugs. I had what I thought was would satisfy me (money, friends, trucks, toys, etc.), but was living in my car by the end of the year. Out of everything I did, abandoning my children was worst. That vicious cycle was 100% continuing.

I was stealing and breaking into poker machines to barely keep my head above water. I was in full blown addiction. I went from hating people that would steal to being proud of what I would take from someone else. I was prone to violence and being selfish, angry, and broken all at the same time.

By the time I sobered up I had been charged with five felonies (2nd Degree Robbery, Theft over $10,000, two 1st Degree Trafficking and Possession of Methamphetamine charges). I accepted the fact that I was on my way to prison this time.

After two weeks in jail, a guard came into the 14-bunk cell I was sharing with 30 other broken men. He asked if anyone wanted to go to church. I asked him if we had to leave the cell. He said “yes,” so I followed him. I had zero thoughts about God, I just wanted to be anywhere but there, even if it was only for a few minutes.

Sitting in that jail service I remember asking myself: “Why are these people here?” They were coming to the place that every other person was fighting to get out of. A light shined into my life that day, and I knew I was in darkness. I had to see the Gospel before I’d ever be able to hear it.

Four days later, I went to a Friday morning church service looking for something. I told God that I would be a monk and do nothing fun for the rest of my life if I could have Him like those people said.

That morning Jesus met me right where I was. It was like was a fish that had been born out of water. For the first time I was introduced to living water, and I could breathe for the very first time. The thought: “This is what I was made for” came over me and a weight was lifted from my shoulders that morning. I was born again!

I spent each day for the next almost 15 months seeking the face of God for hours. As I began seeking, I was finding. And, as I was finding, I was falling in love with Jesus.

I was seeing myself through eyes that had been open, and the Light was exposing exactly what I had been. At the same time, I was learning of Jesus — who He was and of His love — for the first time. Somewhere those two roads crossed, and I fell in love with Jesus!

God became a Father to me while I was in Laurel County Detention Center. It is a love that continues to grow and thrive today. Through a well of intimacy with Jesus that has been dug in the secret place, living water flows out of my belly from that same well that has no end of supply for thirsty souls just like I used to be.

My life today doesn’t just look different, it is different. I have custody of my first two children. I have been married to my best friend for four years now and we have two more children in our home. I am able to go back into the jails regularly and share the same light that shined into my life more than six years ago.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and am on track to earn a Master of Business Administration in the next two months. I previously worked a plant manager supervising over 120 employees for SEKRI, a non-profit that hires mostly employees with a disability.

Today, I am an Area Prevention Coordinator for Operation UNITE. I get to go into schools and communities to educate them about drugs and empower them to follow a different path than I chose. I have a life that is full of purpose and rich in even the finest of details now.

There is a world around us all that is hurting and needing people that are willing to love them and reach for them. I no longer have an attitude. Instead, my heart overflows with gratitude that change is possible in every situation. I could not have imagined my life today at any point in my past.