This is my story of introduction to and affiliation with the Salvation Army. My journey begins in a city called Tallahassee; which is where I was born and raised. After many years of addiction, and as a direct result of my addiction and incarceration; I found myself back in Tallahassee with seven years of probation. Once again, due to my addiction I was faced with being incarcerated for violation of probation. It seemed that I was incapable of giving a negative U.A. I was given them consistently and I was consistently positive. As I prepared myself to be incarcerated again; I prayed to God that somehow I would be given another chance. God answered my prayer. I was given a choice, incarceration or treatment. My probation officer had made all the arrangements for me to be admitted into the Salvation Army ARC in Jacksonville, Florida. He explained to me that it was an addiction treatment program; that was spiritually based. I said yes, because after all I did not want to be incarcerated, and maybe, just maybe, God did have something to do with me getting another chance.
In January of 2003, I arrived in Jacksonville, Florida at the Greyhound bus station on a chilly Monday morning with $50.00 and a number for the A.R.C. I called the number, the person who answer the telephone said, “Stay put we will send a driver to pick you up.” I am then transported to the A.R.C., processed through intake, to include a U.A., which I passed, thank God! I will never forget that. It was the beginning of a new life for me. I have been clean and sober since that day. No more negative (dirty) U.A.’s
While in the program there were many Ah! Ha! Moments. Moments of truth, or times of clarity, that I had understanding and revelation, of God, myself, and recovery. There were so many I can’t remember them all, but I do remember some. Such as, in my first week I noticed that men would come up and ask if you are okay, or tell you that it was going to be okay, everything would be alright. Encouraging the new man. My first chapel service was so inspiring. There is something to be said about hearing 100 plus men, whose lives are in chaos, come together singing, praising and worshiping God. Hearing that there is no cure for addiction, but through Christ you can be healed of addiction. Seeing and not just listening but hearing men who were addicts like me, who were healed of their addictions, let me know that I could be healed also. I realized that I wanted what they had, and what they had was faith. I realized I would have to change and it would take work. Faith without works is dead! I realized that those who were happy, clean, and sober believed in God. They read their Bibles, and did Bible study on their own time. They prayed, went to chapel, in addition to going for service. I would see them in the morning, noon, and evening. I observed them; they did not act as I or others did. They did not talk dirty, use profanity, disrespect others or use tobacco products. They let their actions speak for them. They congregated together; they were around those of the same mind as them. They were peculiar. They were happy, full of joy and had love for God, other and themselves. I was drawn to them and they welcomed me with open arms. I started to imitate them and learn from them. They helped me find God. I learned from then that God is all around me and is with me wherever I go whatever I do. All I have to do is seek Him and His will for me concerning my life.
On September 14, 2003 I graduated the Levels Recovery Program of the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville, Florida. It was and remains to this day one of my most cherished accomplishments. Upon graduation I left Jacksonville and returned to Tallahassee. I can truly say that I was a new man, with a new beginning. I did not know what the future held for me, but I did know that with God I would face it without fear or doubt. Because of my faith in Christ. As God would have it, I relocated to Jacksonville. I have read and heard that God will prepare you for what He wants you to do. I believe that to be true, as I feel the Lord has prepared me through my life to do what I now do. I will briefly illustrate how. Starting with being addicted to alcohol crack, cocaine, marijuana, cigarettes, and other drugs for over 40 years. To include the co-occurring disorders that accompanies them. Next, my time spent in treatment at the A.R.C. While in the program some of my work therapy jobs were,; working in the sorting room, working on the dock, working the compactor, working as the trailer man, working in the thrift store, and being employed as a truck driver. At present I am employed as an addiction counselor at the Jacksonville A.R. C. Not only has God prepared me through my life experiences, He also provided the opportunity for me to return to school and work on getting a degree in Christian Counseling. Also God prepared me by the life I now live. He has equipped me with education so that I may better serve Him. I believe in my heart, mind, and soul that God has lead and guided me back to the Salvation Army A.R.C. here in Jacksonville, Florida. In doing so God has given me the desires of my heart. To help other men who like me were lost and in need of a Savior. I have a desire to help them be healed and made whole; to overcome their addictions, to find the power to overcome this sinful world and enter into life that comes through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! In closing I would like to thank first of all God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, for my salvation. The Salvation Army and all of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to God by becoming officers. I would like to thank those who were administrators and or chaplains here in Jacksonville thank you: Major Elanore Hill (Retired) Major Jim Smith (retired); Major Forrest McIntyre (Retired) Captain Gary Wilson. I would also like to thank the current administrators, Major Ernest Steadham and Major Darlene Steadham, and our Chaplain Major Richard Strommer, and Major Majorie Strommer. You all have given me some of your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. And have been an example to me, my life has been blessed by knowing you all. This is my story, my journey with the Salvation Army A.R. C. and it continues to the glory, honor, and praise of God! Amen!