Troy Barros

Today I bring you the testimony of Troy Barros in his own words (with slight editing for grammar and punctuation) from his speech upon graduating from the Inside Out Men’s Home.

“Like most of us here I’ve had troubles since childhood. The way I responded to as well as accepted those trials was by being very self-destructive and explosive. I was a threat to all who were around me in some way, shape, or form. Each time I went through something, I always came out worse than I was before the incident took place! Every time I was hurt by someone or suffered a loss I became more and more twisted, and eventually my thought process became absolutely backwards. I was a very angry person that needed God, but found drugs as well as a very disruptive lifestyle. Because of that lifestyle, I spent a lot of time behind bars.

Every time while incarcerated, I would read God’s Word and sometimes even lead Bible studies. I’d get out, be blessed beyond words, take my blessing, forget about God and run. Always, like clockwork I’d slip back into my old ways and always I’d find myself in a cell praying to God for help as well as forgiveness. Each time the matter got worse. Eventually I was not just brought to my knees, I was completely flattened, knocked out and down for the count! My pride anger and sinful lifestyle had finally caught up to me. I was in court and my top sentence was 15 years 6 months. I remember praying to God–please let me do this Men’s Home! I promise I’ll change. I need serious help! Eventually that prayer request was answered! I was given a one year county jail sentence with a severe tail (suspended life sentence) that allows me no more room for mistakes.

So at this point all I had to do was convince Pastor Rich as well as get a transfer from probation. These were going to be my next two trials. But before I get to that point , in anticipation as well as hopes of being accepted into the Men’s Home I realized I was so screwed up I could use all the preparation I could get. I voluntarily entered the RCP program, an in custody drug treatment that had a military style format: boots, marching, standing at attention, the whole bit. I had two main instructors, Tyronne McGee and George Gates. Both were very strict but taught recovery with great passion. It was an 8 week program but I had the privilege of being there 4 & 1/2 months. I learned a lot of things. The two most important: 1. Drop the pride and be able to receive instruction. 2. Wake up real early and be ready for the day.  I knew those were two requirements of the Men’s Home. In the process of working on recovery I really learned a lot about myself and how really screwed up I was. George Gates assigned a homework assignment to write my own obituary. I did and I wasn’t happy with what I saw at that point. I diligently wrote Pastor Rich. I completed the RCP program, got released from jail and, by the Grace of God Pastor said he’d give me a chance. All the many walls that were before me like probation, transfers as well as serious classes I had to take per court order were all taken care of through this ministry. My transfer was granted and my journey began.

When I arrived at the Men’s Home I was made aware of how many issues I really did have. The list was very long but I was completely broken and ready for change. Not only was I ready but had no choice other than to go forward. The Men’s Home provided everything I needed. It wasn’t easy but I did it. For the first time in my life I didn’t run or take the easy way out. Instead I took something from so many of my peers, co-workers and pastors, a different quality from each of them. I really listened and asked a lot of questions. I believe each individual was placed in my life for a different reason and I hoped I received it properly. Every one helped me fine tune different skills and behavioral patterns and gifts and because of that I am a new man and I’ve learned how to live a new life in which I am entirely thankful.

The devil has reminded me for so many years of the lives I’ve taken, helped destroy and all the many mistakes I’ve made. But I find great joy in that now I no longer have to let these mistakes keep me captive and I can press into Phillipians 3:13-14. “No dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” (New Living Translation)

Pertaining to all the things I did lose, what’s important has been restored to me: my salvation, my family, my freedom, life, and a wonderful church family that helps me keep my focus on God and His Will for my life.

Real important: my family now speaks to me again after a decade of anger towards me for my horrible behavior. They’re starting things over with me. My mother who continuously hurt over and over again has forgiven me, still loves me a lot, and just as important, I don’t need to apologize to her gravestone. My God Can Restore Anything! I want to thank everyone in the ministry. You all played a part, especially Don and Pastor Rich, my entire family whom I was lucky enough, excuse me blessed enough, to have support me and to John and Christian who never stopped praying for me. And I’m thankful to God for without Him, none of this or any of us would have been possible.”

Thank you Troy for sharing. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. May God continue to bless you on your journey.

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Testimony of Peter Dodge

Last week you met his mother and now in his own words, edited for length,  Peter Dodge.

 

“It’s a delight to give my testimony. First of all, I get to talk about my favorite subject, me. But Jeff says that’s not what our testimonies are supposed to be about. We’re supposed to talk about God’s glory so in an effort to kind of channel everything I want to say towards the goodness of the Lord I want to read a Psalm to you. I’m going to read just some verses from Psalm 103. David writes, “Bless the Lord o my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord o my soul and forget not his benefits Who pardons all your iniquities and heals your diseases. Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with loving kindness and compassion. Who satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed like an eagle. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. He will not strive with us forever, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins. As far as east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame and He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass. Like flowers of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more in its place and is acknowledged no longer. But the loving kindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him and His righteousness to His children’s children.”

 

I stand here because of a faithful mother and father who prayed for me because the Lord is faithful to His children’s children. From the Psalm, there are a few things I want to point out, some road markers that we’re going to hit throughout this testimony and I want you to remember the goodness of the Lord and the amazingness of our God. He pardons our sins, number one, according to this Psalm. He heals our diseases. He crowns us with compassion and He is faithful to His children’s children. And were it not for the mercies of the Lord that He is faithful to His children’s children I would have been consumed. Verse 10 of that Psalm say He has not dealt with us according to our sin.

 

Blessed be the name of the Lord that He has not dealt with me according to my sin because if that were the case, on Easter Sunday, 1998 I would’ve died. The Bible says that it is appointed once for a man to die and after that, the judgement. I would’ve faced judgement that night and I would’ve been found without Jesus Christ. I would’ve been lost forever but the Lord has not dealt with me according to my sins. He’s crowned me with loving kindness.”

 

Come back next Monday to find out what happened that Easter Sunday.

 

Reality Check

This week the pastor of the Foothills Alliance Church in Walhalla, SC sent me a video of his testimony which he shared at Toccoa Falls College in NE Georgia in April of 2009. Before I share his story I’d like to share what his mother had to say as she introduced him. So now in her own words Mrs. Sarah Dodge.

“I’m talking to you today as a mother, as someone who has had a reality check on our personal life, a reality check on our life as Christians. Dr. Gardner spoke this morning about struggling. Just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean we don’t struggle. Today you’re going to hear from our reality check Peter. He took us on a journey that we had never envisioned. Peter was raised in a Christian family. Dad was a preacher and our son was very much loved. We though that if we did everything the Bible said, we would have the ideal family. When he was born in 1972 we had two names picked, Andrew and Peter. We chose Peter because he was the size of a rock. What we didn’t realize is that rock was rock headed, not so much stubborn as thick headed.

We actually lived the Luke 15 Prodigal Son story. I thought if we did all the things right, that wouldn’t happen in our family. Peter had a mind of his own and Peter took the journey of the prodigal son. The prodigal son had a mother and it’s me. You only hear about the prodigal son’s dad. (In our version) Mom went along too and it was quite a ride, except then as Jeff said we put Peter in God’s Hands. God took him out of our hands. We dedicated him as a baby and He took him back. We had no control.
But the end of the story is that Dad had a verse for every one of the kids. The verse that Dad had picked out for Peter when he was a baby was Isaiah 54:13. “All your sons will be taught of the Lord and the well beings of your son will be great.” There were times when we doubted that. But after God got finished with Peter we saw how God taught Peter all by Himself and that the well being of our son was in His Hands. So now I introduce to you not Peter the rockhead but Peter, the solid man of God.”

You all can meet Peter here next week but I felt it important that you meet his mother. It was a joy for me to watch her speak. I watched my own mother struggle on the journey her prodigal son took her on. She, like Sarah made a wise choice. They gave their sons over to God.

Testimony

Today I bring you the testimony of a young man in my church. It has been my pleasure to watch his growth over the last year. Here is his story in his own words: I lived a rough childhood. I was raised in Perris, CA until the age of 6. Broken home doesn’t really get the type of home I grew up in. It was no home at all. Mom and Dad fought alot. Constant flow of Dads friends or “Homies” coming through the house. Mom wasn’t really ever there. Lots of drug use as my dad was a well known heroin connection in the area. My dad was locked away for life on Dec. 24th 1994, a day I will never forget. You see growing up in that type of atmosphere taught me that drug use, sex, and trouble was okay. By this time in my life my mother and I were living in Anaheim, CA and my sister had gone to live with my grandma. At the time my mother was a main supplier of marijuana in Anaheim, so on average she hid anywhere from 20 to 80 lbs. in the house every week. Life was good or so I thought … I started smoking marijuana at the age of 11. My mother and I kind of “bonded” when we would sit around the table and smoke. My mother was also a Meth addict so she was always doing something or locked away in her room for hours. I didn’t know it at the time but I was living a life of utter chaos, unpleasing to the Lord and satisfying the devil’s every need. “Mom, I like these shoes. Do you think you could buy them for my birthday?” I said. “No! I don’t have the money son,” my mother said. “If you want something you need to find the ways and means to get it yourself,” she said. So I started selling drugs to get the stuff I wanted, just like my mother did. She was my main supplier and the money was good. I was 14 at the time. The crowd I hung around was the type that liked to party, fight and get into trouble, like the phrase says, “Get in where you fit in.” I was in! Oh and by the way I got the shoes I want. “Sit down, shut up, take all your clothes off, bend over and cough three times,” the deputy said. I had landed myself in the Youth Authority right before my 15th birthday. (YA is prison for underage kids) They booked me for grand theft auto, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and trafficing. I ended up doing 1 year and 9 months and when I got out I was 16. This continued the long and vicious cycle of sex, drugs, and getting locked up. I am a 23 year old male and have been locked up all together 5 of the last 8 years. Today is Dec. 24th 2011. I have been out from behind bars now for about 14 months and am celebrating 1 year clean and sober. I never would have thought I would be leaving that lifestyle behind to be adopted into Jesus Christs’ family. I am now a child of God. Thank you Heavenly father. You see in the book of Psalms chp. 18 verses 4-6 it says, “The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death itself stared me in the face. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from His Sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. (NLT) This was my life. I was living a life pleasing to the devil. My release date was coming up. I didn’t want to live the same life. I wanted change. I longed for it. So in my cell. I cried out to the Lord, “Lord! if you’re real, help me, guide me to a new place. A place of peace where I may grow to trust you. Amen.” Just 21 years old and completely tired of the same old thing. I wanted a new lifestyle. I have been through a lot of things a 40 year old grown man in prison has been through. In Psalm chp. 18 verses 16-17 it says: “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters. He delivered me from powerful enemies, from those who hated me and were too strong for me.” (NLT) I was released Nov. 19th, 2010 and on Dec. 24th 2010 I was brought into the Inside-Out Men’s Home, a Christian based drug and alcohol rehab for men who suffer from chronic relapsing. A chronic relapser is someone who has been clean and sober for a period of time and ends up relapsing. And the cycle goes on and on. It’s been a long year of growing in the Lord’s Grace and Mercy. Dealing with 8 different men’s attitudes who have been through the same thing I have is hard. I have learned that I need to crush my pride and walk away from arguments. The Lord hates pride. That’s the hardest thing for me. I’m very prideful. But I’m daily growing in the Lord’s Humility! I’m going to close with Psalm chp. 18 verse 30: “As for God, his way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.” (NLT) “Prayer!” Prayer is what has got me through this last year. I cast all my cares, concerns, burdens, etc. at the foot of the cross and let my Lord take care of it. I thank the Lord for what He has brought me out of, who He has made me and where He is going to take me. God bless everyone who reads this! If you are struggling with addiction, in and out of jail or prison and want freedom from the bondage and live in Southern CA contact Rich Mathisrud @ 714-504-1457 or the Main Place Thrift Store @ 714-573-7503 and ask for Donald Furhman.

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