In November 2011, my wife and I both celebrated our 20th year as disciples. We worship here in the Chicago Church of Christ and what a wonderful Journey it has been. We are leaders in the churches Recovery Ministry, specifically Chemical Recovery for Men and Co-Dependency for Women. This Year I have recommitted to ignite my passion for helping as many as possible experience freedom from addiction, for I too have been set free.I was born in 1970 in Angola, Africa during the height of the Cold War. This was followed by the Civil War after the country gaining independence in 1975 from Portugal. By God's grace and the hard work of my Father, a UN Selected Student in Washington DC, my Mom and her 5 children had been able to get political asylum and move to the US in 1979.
As a nine Year old child in the US learning a new language, experiencing a new culture and way of life, I believe that this shock to my social system made it hard for me to adjust. I can remember at the age of 10 or 12, trying to fit in and doing my best to impress my peers by being my best in sports, classroom or anything that could help me be socially accepted.
When I reached adolescense, I soon realized that the real "in” crowd were those who were using alcohol, tobacco and other mood altering substances.
I willingly joined in and soon found myself not only enjoying this type of atmosphere, but in many cases creating it. My alcohol abuse increased in College and it became apparent that I was being enslaved by this addiction, when my grades slipped from 3.5 to 2.0GPA in 2 years; it also affected my performance in athletics. I had to sit out my junior year because of Academic and Behavioral problems; it affected my social life when close friends deserted me saying that I was negatively effecting them; lastly it affected my relationship with God to the point where I stopped attending Church and never read my Bible, which had been something that my parents had instilled in me since I was a boy.
In 1991 God sent someone into my life to reach out to me as a discouraged, discontented and enslaved 21 Year old young man. I was invited to a Bible Study at a pick-up basketball game. I had prayed to God to help me change because I had come to the realization that I could not change on my own; the previous week I had spent a night in prison on charges of Public Disorder and Public Intoxication. While studying the Bible I made the decision to surrender and make Jesus the Lord of my life. On November 15th 1991, I was baptized in a swimming pool at a Chicago University.
In the past 20 years I have struggled with relapsing. At some of the lowest points of my spiritual life, I have turned to alcohol as a comforter or numbing agent so as to not deal with the real issues in my life. These issues have included loneliness, discouragement, pressures of life; financial or other stresses. I have had moments of weakness and picked up that first drink, even after making that promise “I am not drinking again” and of course facing the negative consequences of the bad choices that I had made.
My real recovery did not start until God showed me that Unconditional Surrender to His Word and total acceptance to my powerlessness over alcohol is the first step of recovery. October 30, 2007 is my freedom day. I had to place my total faith in God and his word with this area of my life and I also had to commit my life to my recovery plan. I give credit to the Chemical Recovery Ministry, (www.chemicalrecovery.org), that is offered in the Church. My wife who is part of my accountability partnership, along with some close friends have been instrumental in showing me unconditional love and at the same time holding me accountable to the plan that has helped me overcome and continues to help me grow in sobriety.
Fast forward to today, January 21, 2012 I am now the Husband of my beautiful wife, who has been my best friend, supporter and partner in the Gospel for the past 9 Years and we have a seven year old daughter who is the light of our lives. I am working in a secular job as Director of IT and we are family group leaders for the wonderful sector that we attend. In addition, we are very passionate about helping as many as possible to overcome addictions in their lives, putting into practice the calling that Jesus himself took and passed it on to us in Luke 4:18-19:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
As we begin this new Year 2012, I am recommitting my life and passion to be available for God to help as many as possible to overcome their addictions through Biblical Principles and the Power of God. That is what Christ expects as he spoke through Paul by stating in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort
those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God
When we overcome and help others overcome we remember that it is God who gets the Glory as he did when he rescued the Israelites from Slavery from the Egyptians in Leviticus 26:13
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of
Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the
Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled
you to walk with heads held high.
To God be the Glory!