Thanksgiving testimonies from the Adult Rehabilitation Centers
David A. Gilbert–Tacoma ARC
I learned about God at the age of four, but the next year he took my mother from me. My father never remarried, and I grew up unguided, a boy in a man’s world. I put my faith in drugs and it seemed to be the answer to all my problems.
But I still felt empty and sick inside. Self pity finally consumed me, and I lay down to medication, hoping never to wake up. I woke up in an ICU.
Several attempts at recovery failed, and I wound up in jail. I worked hard on renewing my faith. When God thought I was ready, he sent me to the Tacoma ARC. While I thought God was no friend to me, he was walking with me at every step, just waiting for me to choose him over the ways of this world. At this time I can feel his power, and his love embraces me. The plan he has for my life is better than anything I could have ever imagined.
Michael Asari–Honolulu ARC
My life began to change at age 14, getting into trouble with the law. I chose to be identified with rebellious friends and was arrested several times in high school. Music became a part of my life and I played drums for a rock ‘n’ roll band, loving the attention and popularity that came with it. During these times I began drinking alcohol.
I joined the Army after high school and served in Vietnam. I began to use drugs daily, not knowing how bad things would change…After my discharge I began work in the music distribution business and continued to play music at night. I loved the night life and the excitement of being on stage. Hard drugs became the source of all I needed to make it through days and nights.
I was arrested for drugs while playing at a club and put on probation. I could not stay clean and violated the court conditions. I was sent to prison in 1990 and believe today that the Lord wanted me to experience not having freedom of will. I wasn’t ready to change, but the time I spent in prison did plant a seed. Upon release, I entered two separate rehabilitation programs, but continued to relapse. I could not see that my lifestyle and love for music was the source of my problems. I violated my probation conditions again, and by suggestion of my probation officer, I entered the ARC to keep out of prison.
I had a feeling I was missing something in my life and I did not know it was the Lord. The ARC introduced me to what I needed to walk a new path. The love and care the staff gave to each man was how I could understand and see what a Christian was. I accepted the Lord in 1992 and hope became a reality. I graduated and was employed as a counselor for three years. I am currently employed as a field rep for a food broker in a fast-paced business world. I start my days focusing on God through prayer and his word and leaving home knowing he is in control.
It broke my heart to know that I had to let my music go in order to change my lifestyle. I knew my sobriety had to come first, and thought I would not be playing again. God does things in his time and way, because I am now playing for him. I attend the S.A. Leeward Corps and get to play with the group there and with a band that goes around to different churches. The emptiness I had in my soul is now being filled daily with a gift that only God could offer.
Brian R. Quinn–Honolulu ARC
On weekends and holidays, our favorite pastime in high school was drinking. I was sure I could handle it, but I kept on drinking to the point where I would become out of control. My family was concerned, but I wouldn’t listen to their admonitions.
I joined the Navy right out of school to get away from the drinking crowd. It was great while I was at sea, but when the ship came into port, I found myself always drunk and getting into trouble. The Navy sent me to three different treatment programs in the seven years I served. In 1988 I was not accepted for re-enlistment because of my continued failure to remain sober. I had no money in the bank; I was stuck in Hawaii, and definitely homeless. In between jobs, I lived at the homeless shelter.
In late 1989, I finally sought help, and went to the Salvation Army’s addiction treatment services and stayed five months. I was then introduced to the Adult Rehabilitation Center, and I liked the work therapy part of the program. I could see the love in the Army people–the love for others, the ones no one wanted to deal with. During this time I gave myself to the Lord, and felt the consuming love of God and the officers, Captains Jack and Anna Phillips, who loved me even when I couldn’t love myself.
Today I can claim four and a half years of sobriety. I got a great job at a well known grocery chain in the city, and while working the night shift, I went back to college. I am active in AA, attending three or four meetings a week, and also the Salvation Army corps when not working on Sundays.
I have allowed God to run my life and to work his will in me, and I can truly say my life today is fun and blessed.
Fred Schulz–Honolulu ARC
I had my first beer at the age of 15 right before a Little League game I was to participate in. It was the best game I had ever had. Yes, it was the beer that allowed me to play so well. I had a “new friend.”
Years later, I found myself homeless and all alone in Aala park, which is located in Honolulu, a block from the ARC. A few weeks later, with nowhere to go, no money, no identification, and suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms, I found myself at the Salvation Army Detox Unit.
Most men my age had great jobs, a home and family. Where had I gone wrong? I remember thinking that I could never catch up. At the same time, I noticed that the officers, Captain and Mrs. Jack Phillips, smiled too darn much. What did they have?
I felt “two-faced” about turning my life over to Jesus, because I wasn’t sure I really knew Jesus or knew how to believe in him. My thoughts were, “Can this all really be true?” After a couple of months, my life began to change. It’s something I will probably never be able to explain. I felt secure once again. There were still many obstacles to overcome, but for some reason I felt it was going to be OK. It was Jesus working my life.
Today, Jesus and I are constantly working on my sobriety. I have become a computer instructor at the number one computer training company in Hawaii…Using the words of Captain Phillips, “If I were any better, I would have to be two people!”
Anonymous–(Because of my very sensitive and responsible job, I must not give my name, but I would like to add my testimony to the tremendous help given to me by the ARC.)
I was born in Hawaii and lived here just about all my life. I’ve had many ups and downs in my young life–some very deep drops down–but I want to express my gratitude to The Salvation Army for lifting me up when I was at my lowest.
I had a good childhood, but made some wrong choices along the way. I got involved in drugs during high school and could not escape for many years. Despite my drug use, I managed to work my way into a very good job. My negative behavior finally caught up with me, and in 1988 I was terminated from my job after failing a drug test.
A hospital drug program kept me sober for a few months, but I just wasn’t ready. I began associating with very undesirable people. Finally, in 1990, I got into trouble with the law. I was sentenced to probation and ordered to a residential drug program, but left it after only three months.
Later, I turned myself in, but I was sent to prison and then released into the custody of the Honolulu ARC. The events that happened since are like wonderful gifts from God. So many people have touched my life, and without their continued support, it just wouldn’t be the same. The aftercare portion of the program is what guided me back into society. When the leader left, I had the opportunity to lead the group for a few years.
After graduating, I worked as a truck driver, and after much effort and a great deal of help from the staff at the ARC, I was able to return to a very meaningful and responsible job in 1995. I am grateful to The Salvation Army and to the many individuals who guided and nurtured me into a mature, drug-free person. I owe everything I have to the program here at the Honolulu ARC.
David Van Patten – Perris ARC
My addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs took me to a dark, terrible and lonely world. I worked as a certified activities director for the elderly in a convalescent and retirement home during the day and was alone drinking at night. I began abusing pain pills which I had a legitimate reason for, and began manipulating several doctors for more.
I became more and more out of control, was arrested for forging prescriptions, and violated parole. I was finally fired from my job at the retirement home for stealing the patients’ medications. Arrested once again, I was looking at three years in prison. The judge gave me one more chance and the opportunity to
go to the Salvation Army ARC at Perris.
Upon entering I was miserable–I did not want to be here. But after about a week I realized that I was in a great place. I felt as if everything was being taken care of by God. My anger was disappearing. I was making friends–I could actually be happy here.
One Sunday we sang a hymn I had never known–but the words were all about me.
Out of my bondage, sorrow and night
Jesus I come, Jesus I come
Into thy freedom, gladness and light
Jesus I come to thee…
I felt so much peace and love from Jesus. I realized I was right where he wanted me, and he had always been with me watching and waiting for me. As of now I have over seven months of sobriety. There have been times when I am in the pit, but the Lord always brings me out of it.
Mike Baird–Perris ARC
My professional and personal lives were rapidly deteriorating. The acrid smell of smoke from burning bridges was suffocating me. One by one my well-intentioned but halfhearted attempts at correcting or reversing the situation failed. I was running low on cash, had lost my wallet and identification, resigned from my job (it was that or get fired) and was living in a motel. Alcohol abuse does that to a person. At least it did it to me.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, I went to the Salvation Army ARC. While at the center I devoted a large amount of time toward theological study, apologetics and Bible study. I became an adherent, and attended the Promise Keepers convention in San Diego with 50,000 other Christian males for a weekend of praise and worship. I organized and facilitated an Overcomers Outreach group at the center…By immersing myself in Christian thought the difficulty I once had began to disappear…With sobriety comes opportunity and a chance to develop an unshakable faith.
Seven treatment programs did not keep me from standing before the judge’s bench again. For 30 years I have lived in my addiction. Called “hopeless” by the probation department, I was told by my public defender and parole officer that I was going to prison. The Lord answered my prayer when the judge said, “I am sentencing you to six months in jail and a long-term rehabilitation program.”
I know God brought me from the walls of jail to the ARC. The caring staff here has gently taught me how to pray again. I have accepted God back into my life, and big changes for the better are happening every day. I have been clean and sober for over six months now. God has given me back my freedom of choice.
Today, I choose to pray to God.
Today I choose to give instead of steal.
Today, I choose to laugh instead of cry.
Today, I choose to live instead of die.
Two months ago, my friend dropped me off about a quarter of a mile from my place. Even though it was pitch dark, I thought nothing of walking the rest of the way home. The next day I woke up in my apartment covered with blood. Blackouts were not uncommon in my drinking days, but I was an alumnus of the SARC program, still clean and sober. I phoned the security guard at work and told him I must have been beaten up, so I would not be able to come
to work. My boss came over and, seeing the blood running from my eye and all my head injuries, took me straight to the hospital.
The surgery lasted 15 hours. I lost my right eye and the doctors put plastic plates in my head where the skull was crushed. Now I have returned to full-time work at The Salvation Army. I am thankful that God picked me up off the sidewalk and guided me home that fateful night when I was left for dead. I am thankful for my boss, the Good Samaritan, who took me to the hospital. I am thankful to my God, who gives me the grace to pray for those who beat and robbed me. My prayer is that they will read the books they stole from me, purchased at the Christian bookstore, so they may come to know and love the Lord Jesus as I do. My God, in his mercy, has extended my life that I might glorify him by my testimony.
Eight month ago, when I entered the SARC, I was spiritually bankrupt–emotionally and physically numb. I wanted so much to live a life of happiness, peace, wholeness but was totally clueless of how to do it. The clients and counselors talked of God, acceptance, “living one day at a time.” I remember thinking to myself, “oh, please spare me,” because I thought they were talking nonsense. I knew God was sick and tired of me. I could hear him say, “Kathy, you have committed too many sins; I can’t forgive you.”
As the days and weeks passed, I watched and listened to the majors. How could two people in charge of alcoholics and addicts be so kind, nonjudgmental, reassuring, full of faith and inspirational? And they smiled when I greeted them!
“God works through people,” I had heard in chapel. Two months later, I hit my knees to the floor, saying something simple like, “God, help me to do right, to know what I’m supposed to do. Just be with me, O.K.?” That day I allowed God to be in charge of my life, relinquishing my throne to him. Today I realize that God does work through his people.
I am a nurse by profession, and plan to return to my work following completion of this program. Today I ask for God’s help to live right, to be with me always, to accept whatever happens as his will. I give thanks and praise God’s name for giving me spirituality in recovery.
Cornelio Tisalona–Honolulu ARC
I’m a recovering drug addict and alcoholic. I started using marijuana at the age of 13. As years went by, my main drug became crystal meth and alcohol. The two combined caused disaster and destruction in my life. That was the beginning of a life that I no longer want to be a part of.
I became a violent person, got arrested and spent a year behind bars. After prison, I was court-ordered to seek residential treatment, and I’ve been in treatment for the past three years.
Since then I have had two relapses. I’m not proud of myself for that, and that’s where The Salvation Army ARC has helped me. I’ve been helped physically, mentally and spiritually. The ARC has also brought the good Lord into my life.
He has done for me what I couldn’t do for myself. He has shown me a better way of life. With God’s strength and guidance, he’ll keep me on the right track of recovery. I have been born again into a whole new world.
John Albert Jackson–Perris ARC
I am Afro-American born and raised in L.A., right in the heart of Watts–a neighborhood consumed by drug abuse and gang activity, where death and violence have become a way of life. Despite troubles all around, my mother was a prayerful woman, and she loves the Lord. So part of raising her children was bringing them to church and exposing them to the Key of Life, which is my Lord and Savior.
God protected me from seen and unseen dangers in South Central Los Angeles, and I never wore a red or blue rag in my pocket. Gangs never had an effect on my life. But Satan had another pitfall for me, that was drugs and alcohol. Drugs had become my God, and crack cocaine was destroying my world.
But I can’t blame the CIA for putting crack in my neighborhood. I can’t blame my parents for living in a drug infested neighborhood. I can’t blame my deceitful wife. I take full responsibility for my addiction, because no one put a gun to my head and told me to hit that crack pipe. I made a bad choice and I’m not proud of it. Drugs dominated my thinking and I lost the ability to control my actions.
I was tired of looking at myself in the mirror. My face was sucked up and I didn’t see any hope in my eyes. The devil had beat me to the curb. I had become a liar, a thief and a cheater. I had sold my only child’s Christmas presents for drugs. I will never forget that look on her face when I came to her empty-handed and defeated by drugs. My addiction was no longer fun. It had become a living hell.
I got on my knees and began crying out to God, and I could feel the presence of God with me. I never put the rope around my neck. But I had to put my faith in God with all of my heart. His spirit led me to The Salvation Army ARC, a lovely place to recover.
Thirteen months later I’m still sober. I know it’s God and not me. I choose my associates carefully, people who have a relationship with God. Recovery has given me back self respect, self esteem and purpose in life. It was the Grace of God that has given me a life that I thought was never possible. God has given me a high that crack could never give me. Thank you, my Lord and Savior!
Travis O’Pry–Honolulu ARC
I’m a recovering drug addict in the ARC. I’m very thankful today because of this program. My father was a gambler and drinker who hardly came home. My mother worked hard but spent a lot of time at bingo and other events. I began to get into a lot of mischief. My first drink was from a bottle stolen from my house. I started sniffing glue and was expelled from school. I continued getting into trouble, and eventually landed in jail. When I got out, I started smoking dope and drinking a great deal.
When my father died, it hit me pretty hard. I thought drugs would solve the problem and ease the pain, but that only made it worse. I forged checks, got loans from both banks in town, sold the house he had left me, and headed for Hawaii.
I stayed high for quite a while, but when the money ran out I began dealing and stealing again. I spent a year in probation and stayed out of trouble until I got busted for selling heroin to an undercover cop. I was ordered into a rehab program. After detoxing for a week, I was accepted into the ARC program.
I am really grateful for The Salvation Army today because I feel mentally, physically and spiritually fit for the first time in my life.
Ben Coryell–Canoga Park ARC
Right from the beginning, life was rough for my sister, brother and myself. My biological parents drank and partied a lot, and they also had problems of being unfaithful to each other. One day my father came home and found my mother in bed with another man. This was not something new, and my father was tired of this, so he left her.
Our father did love us, and so he tried to take care of us on his own…but he had a bad drinking problem which kept getting him in trouble. He eventually had too many legal problems in California, so he took us kids to Mexico. Eventually he got put in a Mexican prison, and we kids were left to fend for ourselves. My brother and sister had to work in the fields to support us. We lived in the fields in an abandoned station wagon for about three years.
Finally, the authorities found out we were American citizens, and the authorities made us wards of the court and deported us back to the Untied States. Things weren’t much better in a foster home. Finally I asked Jesus to enter my body and make me the kind of man God had intended for me to be. He led me back to The Salvation Army, but this time the one in Canoga Park run by A/Captains James and Barbara Sloan. Through people like the Sloans and my counselor, Pat Moomy, I’ve learned how to let go of anger and pain that I had stored up inside of me and how to recognize my own character defects so that I can work on changing them. I’ve learned through this program how to live again, and even more importantly, how to live clean and sober. Every day I begin and end my day with Jesus, who is constantly working in my life to heal me and make me better. I’m grateful today for people like Pat Moomy and the Sloans, who have succeeded in helping me where so many have failed before. They’ve taught me how to live with Jesus Christ in my life.
Keith Pendleton–Canoga Park
When I came in the door of The Salvation Army, I didn’t care about anybody or anything in this world, including myself. I was lying to and stealing from my family, and if I didn’t make the choice to come here, I would probably be in jail right now. Since I have been in The Salvation Army, my self-esteem has gone from nothing at all to actually liking myself and having high aspirations for my future.
I grew up a Christian, but during my drinking and using I forgot all about spirituality because I didn’t care too much about living or dying. This Center has brought me back to my childhood and now I prayed every day and am becoming closer to God each and every day I’m here.
The key to what makes this such a great program is the wonderful staff we have looking out for us. They truly care about me and what happens in my life. If I continue to work on my defects and pray to the Lord for strength to do his will, my chances for continued recovery will be good.
Mark Hinckley–Canoga Park ARC
I believe the Holy Spirit guided me to The Salvation Army. I prayed for help before I came. Every day I felt lost and unsure of my future. I think at that time that I was so unhappy with myself, and felt so ashamed of the things I’d done in the past, I didn’t care if I died.
I came here a little scared; after all, I’d never been to a rehab before. But as the days went on,I started getting involved with my recovery and was willing to learn new principles and a new way of living life on life’s terms.
Today I see a future for Mark. I have goals in life, and because of the things I’ve learned at the Army, I believe in myself, and love myself, and have gained my self-respect.
Al H.–Canoga Park ARC
I started using drugs and alcohol 35 years ago, and found them to be fantastic painkillers. As my life went on, it seemed I had a lot of pain to kill.
I grew up in a very dysfunctional home, like many of us do. My father was an alcoholic and abused his family. He told me I was stupid and would never amount to anything. As you can imagine, I didn’t have much self-esteem.
I ran away from home when I was 13 and lived on the road. Most of that time was spent living in a hippie commune in Seattle. At 17, I was asked to become a man in Uncle Sam’s Army, so I went from hippie to Airborne Ranger. All through this time my disease of addiction and alcoholism expanded to many countries.
I met and married a wonderful woman named Dottie, and we had our daughter, Teresa. In the late ’70s I went to work for a major business, repairing office equipment. My drug of choice changed to cocaine.
In a course of 10 years I have been through three treatment centers, the last being The Salvation Army. Needless to say, by this time I was broke–psychologically, spiritually and financially.
When I came into this center, I was ready like I had never been ready before. I began a journey in recovery with a new understanding and love of a God I had never known before. I thank God every day for this gift called sobriety, and never take it for granted. The Salvation Army has saved my life now and for eternity.
Gregory Thiel–Canoga Park ARC
I walked off the streets and into the Center. I am shy and don’t open up to strangers easily. There are 52 of us here, with a common bond, a fellowship that mirrors my experience with alcohol. Broken homes, lost jobs, failed relationships are common stories here. I have never needed God’s love and help as I do now.
It’s hard for me to share my past, I have spent so many years trying to forget it. I think that is why I spent the last 23 years drinking.
I managed to surround myself with people who thought my behavior was normal. Right down to my girlfriend, everyone I knew drank like I did. I bragged when I was spitting up blood, and could barely walk with my atrophied legs. I fit right in.
The last four years my blackouts became more and more frequent. I was powerless over alcohol. It was time either to seek help, or kill myself.
So, here I am, allowing God into my life. By making a decision to turn my will and life over to God, I have in fact decided to start my life over again–to be reborn in the eyes of God. Without fear of failure, I know I will succeed in my endeavor to live, one day at a time, sober. All I have to do is let God walk with me.
Kevin Carter–Lytton Springs
I have been an alcohol and drug abuser for over 20 years. This invariably led to my demise, drove me farther into drug abuse, and always put me back in jail, out of work and no place to call home.
In jail I learned that I could live sober in a structured environment, away from the alcohol and the association of the homeless alcoholic street life.
My basic human decency and productivity surfaced, and the Lytton Springs program provides me with just such a supportive and controlled environment. They have the best spiritual program. That’s what I needed–God in my life again!
God and Lytton have given me a chance to turn myself around, lead to a law-abiding life, and become a productive member of society.
Greg Peters–Anaheim ARC
I come from an extremely loving and caring family so I can’t blame my addictions on them. Getting my heroin was a full time job, and all my thoughts centered on ways to get more. I didn’t know which way to turn, but when someone suggested a long term program, I didn’t think I could do it. I always started things, but never finished.
I’ve been at The Salvation Army for five months now, and look forward to finishing something I’ve started. I feel I’ve gained a hole new work ethic since being here. I owe a lot of thanks to my work supervisor, Martin Neumann, whose Christian attitude and direction have been invaluable to me. I also have a fantastic counselor whose help I couldn’t have done without. She has shown me who I really am.
I look forward to my morning devotions with Lt. Col. Lois Allen (R). She has opened my eyes to a new way of life. I know I’ve always been looking for something that’s been right in front of me the whole time.
I now have a chance to be a father to my children and a son to my parents, just as God called on me to be. As long as I continue to do the things that have gotten me this far, I have a very bright future to look forward to.
Richard Mericle–Anaheim ARC
The years leading up to my entering the program were filled with chaos and despair. I was out of control and abusive. My wife left me; my parents wanted nothing to do with me, and I could not hold down a job. Drugs became the one thing I could do well. When I thought of ending my own life, I knew I needed help. I called my father and he drove me straight to The Salvation Army.
Arriving an atheist, I was looking to change every single area of my life. At first it was rough, and my counselor said I wasn’t motivated. He was right. I began to work on the 12 step program. After I watched my first graduation ceremony, hearing each man’s testimony on how God had changed his life, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and amazing things began to happen. When I applied the teachings of Christ to my own life, I found life became a whole lot better. No longer did I hate the world and want alcohol and drugs.
The fellowship with so many men I could relate to helped me overcome the isolation of my addiction. My counselor, Clarence Jones, helped me most. The ARC offered many different counseling and specialty groups that helped me with my recovery.
Today, I live with my wife and children again. My relationship with my parents is stronger now than ever before. A great job lets me have a home, a car, and other worldly comforts. Now, when I encounter problems, I use the tools learned in The Salvation Army and trust in God.