I was raised in a Christian home and first took Jesus as my Lord and Savior a little before my 13th birthday. For about four years, I was on fire for God. I worked in the church and spent time reading the Bible, but I was not a truly dedicated Christian in all respects. I drank a little, smoked pot and did some stupid things: much like a lot of teenagers did in the 70’s.
Looking back now, I can see that I was a weekend Christian instead of a true, full time Christian. I had suffered from ulcers from about eleven years of age, and the wisdom of 70’s medicine had me switching from codeine based pain killers to opiate based ones every few months to avoid becoming addicted to either; I became addicted to both. I met a man who showed me how to use meditation to calm my nerves and settle my ulcers. I was able to give up the drugs I had become dependent on. I saw no conflict with his teachings and the Bible. I felt my walk with Jesus was growing stronger.
I got in a bit of trouble on my eighteenth birthday and was thrown in jail. The new pastor of my church came to visit and told me “A real Christian would not be in such a situation” and that I was no longer welcome in the church. He told me God no longer needed or cared about me. I guess, looking back, this is where my real testimony begins. I turned away from Christ and spent the next thirty or so years looking for the joy and peace I had had before. I dove into the study of Eastern Philosophy: the occult. The man who was helping me with meditation started giving me books on Hinduism, Wicca, Druids, and Native American religions. I felt there was something missing in my life: a hole that never could be filled.
I tried alcohol and drugs, but nothing seemed to help. I drifted farther and farther from Jesus. I replaced Jesus with the search for knowledge: both worldly and spiritual knowledge, but it was always knowledge that seemed to lack truth. I got a B.S. in Education, and continued studying philosophy, history and anything to help me in my search. Nothing seemed to satisfy me. I finally came to believe that I was god and my life became all about me.
In 2003, my marriage of twenty plus years ended. I now realize that it was due to the lifestyle I had chosen. I felt totally lost and alone. I threw myself further and further into the occult and though I would find brief periods of happiness, it never seemed to last. I still felt empty inside.
In December 2009, I came to CWRM for a place to stay until I got a check and could get out on my own. I had no desire to be around “Christians”, but it was better than being around the people I had been associating with. I left about a month later, and again my life started its downward spiral. I decided I was too old to run away again, and something kept calling me back to the Mission. I now know that it was Jesus calling me home to Him.
In February 2010, I joined the Discipleship Program, gave up fighting Jesus, and asked Him, once more, to help me in my life. I felt the hole inside me begin to fill with His love. I now have the joy and peace I have searched for these many years. I finally realized it wasn’t religion that I needed in my life it was Jesus. If there is one thing I have learned from all of this it’s that religion and God are not the same. Religion is man-made, and you must choose those who teach you with care. Jesus always loved me and never turned His back on me. I tried to walk away, but He stayed by my side through it all. I learned that all anyone has to do is simply admit they are a sinner, ask Jesus or God to forgive them, and believe in their heart that Jesus paid the price for their sins by what He did on the cross, and they can have the gift of eternal life and the peace that we all long for.
The Mission Discipleship Program has taught me to have an intimate relationship with Jesus. Through the program here I have been able to escape the despair and hopelessness my life had become. I have formed bonds in the community, with a local Bible-based church, with my brothers and sisters in the program, with my children and family, and most importantly, with Jesus. I am not perfect and won’t be until He calls me home, but I am a lot better than I’ve ever been before.
Mailing Address Central Wyoming Rescue Mission | P.O. Box 2030 | Casper, Wyoming 82602-2030
Men’s New Life Center 230 N. Park Street | Casper, Wyoming 82601 | 307.265.2251
Women’s Transformation Center Casper, Wyoming | 307.233.6925
Rescued Treasures Thrift Store 330 N. Durbin Street | Casper, Wyoming 82601 | 307.577.7793