By Brent Stewart –
At 57, I have a lot of stories to tell.
At 4, I overdosed on my mother’s sleeping pills.
At 7, I was almost cut in half by a rope pulling a boat out of the water.
At 12, I survived 28 days at sea with my family—including five without food—and a storm that destroyed my father’s hand-built boat.
At 27, I almost died from alcohol poisoning.
At 30, I almost died from sepsis.
At 48, I almost died, again, as a result of drinking. With cardiomyopathy, my heart was hardly beating.
Today, people tell me I’m lucky to be alive, but I tell them I am blessed. When I look back on my life, I know that God has saved me countless times. He carried me all the way. He showed me what it means to really love.
That started in 2013, when I started working as the resident manager at The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Anchorage, Alaska.
I don’t remember going to church as a kid. I believed in God, but I didn’t call on him until an emergency. You know the calls: “God, please help me out of this and I’ll never do it again…” But then I would go right back and do it again.
I wasn’t one to stand up and declare a love for the Lord, or to pray in front of anyone. But I could go outside right now and scream how much I love him. I can go right up to someone and pray for them without being afraid.
I truly gave myself to Christ in 2013 and I know that Christ filled me with all the love and joy that a person could dream of. He shaped me to be a person for him, to go out and share his Word. When I started to work as a resident manager, my life was changed. I started to read the Bible more and more each day and couldn’t get enough. When the administrator asked if I would do devotions for the men of the ARC, I said OK.
One night, getting back to the ARC late from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I heard two women talking to the man at the front desk. It turned out that one woman’s son had committed suicide that day and the other’s son was an addict. They were out driving around, saw the cross on the Army’s building and stopped.
I had never prayed out loud for anyone, but Christ spoke to me in that moment. I asked if I could pray for them, and they agreed. I was awash with so many emotions, I had to go to my room and I cried.
God has reshaped me and given me a new life. He has redeemed me and forgiven me for all that is in my past.
In 2014, I married a beautiful and loving woman. I’ve reconnected with my four adult children. And I work for The Salvation Army Western Territorial Headquarters.
God has given me a new and everlasting love. It’s bigger than me, and I can’t wait to tell everyone.