Kevin Andrews: For the first time in my life I had peace
by Glen Doss, Major –
When Kevin Andrews was putting in his community service hours at the corps in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., Captain Ron McKay trusted him with $20 to buy a wheelbarrow. “I don’t know why he trusted me,” remarks Kevin quizzically, “but it touched me that he did.”
So after being released from jail in 1997, knowing he was looking at some hard prison time, Kevin sought out the corps officer. “Ron called me into his office, and he and I had a heart-to-heart talk. I went in crying; I was scared,” recalls Kevin, 39, “but he told me the truth—he was the first person who ever did that! But what I remember most is he wasn’t condemning me. He said that when you have nothing, zilch—no hope of being able to stand on your own two feet—that’s when God can use you. When later on in jail I began reading the Bible, I wrote to him.”
Visiting in Arizona with a brigade of cadets from SFOT, I asked him, “Kevin, how did it all begin?” Deep hurt evident in his voluminous voice, he explains: “It’s alcohol that started it all. I was all hooked up before I was old enough to know any different.” When he was growing up in Seattle, Wash., he adds, his parents were “hard-core partiers—people were always hanging around the house drinking. It seemed funny to them to watch little Kevin go around finishing everybody’s beer, then get drunk and roll around on the floor, acting stupid.”
In fourth grade he began “smuggling booze to school.” By sixth grade, he remembers, “I was selling pot.” In fact, at this young age Kevin hit upon what was to be his vocation for the next twenty-five years—he would sell large quantities of whatever drug he was using at the time to pay for his own habit and much, much more.
His free-spending lifestyle attracted the attention of the law, and at 16 he was jailed for selling cocaine. After his release he opened a used tire store to “launder the money.” The law continued to close in, however, and at 18 Kevin moved to Roseburg, Oregon, where he opened another store. He laid off the cocaine use but continued to drink heavily. Eventually, though, he was using and dealing drugs again—this time “crank,” a form of methamphetamine. When the law was once more close on his heels, he relocated to Lake Havasu City. Again he laid off the drugs for awhile but continued drinking “hard-core.” True to form, it was only a matter of time before he was once again using and dealing drugs.
In 1996, after completing a six-month jail term, Kevin had a peculiar dilemma. “I had 600 hours of community service to do but nobody wanted me. I didn’t get along with anyone—speed will do that to you. But when the probation department called Capt. McKay, he replied, ‘Sure, I’ll put him to work.’ ”
A few months later, however, Kevin found himself back in jail, and after his release he sought out the captain, who counseled him. Jailed again shortly afterwards, this time he picked up a Bible, and in one of the worship services there, he says solemnly, “I stepped forward and accepted Christ. For the first time in my life I had peace. I began writing to Ron and prayed to the Lord for a second chance.” To his joy the sentence was suspended, and he was ordered to a 28-day drug and alcohol rehab.
After his release in 1998 Kevin went looking for a church home but felt unwelcome at the churches around town until he attended the corps service. “There was that unconditional acceptance—they accepted me as a friend.” He reopened his used car business, determined this time to do it “God’s way,” joined the corps and became actively involved.
When Captain (now Envoy) Dee-Dee Lively reported as corps officer, a friendship between them blossomed, and eventually she and Kevin were married.
Kevin admits that what comprises his life today he would have called “very boring” in the past. “Back then I was trying to fill a large emptiness inside of me. I ran my own little world and none of it was enough. But, eventually, as I was taking, taking, taking, I ended up with nothing. Today that hole is filled, and that matters far, far more than any possessions.”