“I’ve always believed in God, but I was never as religious,” said Aaron Varela Maldonado. “I never really prayed—just at times like ‘please don’t let me crash,’ and ‘please, don’t let me get pulled over.’ After I got [to the ARC] I started seeing how other people perceived God and that you can’t use God like that.”

He entered The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Denver at 17, after being charged with a DUI following a car accident. Consequently, as a Mexican citizen, Maldonado lost authorization to work in the U.S.  

But he completed the ARC program—a six-month, biblically based addiction recovery program—and now keeps  a book the ARC chaplain gave to him called “Serenity: A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery,” along with his Bible and a book by Pastor Joel Osteen called “Your Best Life Now.”

“This book…restored my faith and helped me give it to God,” he said. “It gave me positive thinking and a different outlook on life with God in it, which I really needed. I was very negative there for a while.”

Maldonado has changed his friends so he’s not tempted to drink or use drugs. He goes to AA meetings every Saturday and keeps in touch with his sponsor. He also wants to start volunteering.

Every night he reads a chapter in the Bible and a chapter in the Osteen book before bed and he prays.

“I believe that God has a plan for my life,” he said. “I can’t lose my faith now. I don’t want to go back to drinking and drugs.”

Read more about Aaron’s journey here.