How In Triumph Saved My Life
Many of us grow up wondering what we would do if we were called upon to save someones life. We wonder if we could muster up the courage to pull someone from a burning car or if we have it in us to take a bullet for a needy stranger. Some of us are sure we could do it. We boast of our strength in such situations…even though we aren’t in them yet. Others are more humble in their estimation and claim they hope they would do the right thing in that type of scenario. As for me, I have had my life saved so I feel qualified to speak up about the matter.
You see, not all of us are dying from car wrecks or bullets. Some of our deaths are brought on through a slow process of self destruction. We don’t ask for this lot in life. It finds us through certain circumstances until one day we look up and realize it’s to late. We became to difficult for the world to deal with, and we have no skills to adapt to society either, so we go on to the bitter ends of our sinful lives until everything is lost. This is where I was at around six years ago. I was hopeless.
I was a severe drug addict who had awful character. I cannot blame that on anyone but myself because at the time I knew what I was doing was wrong. However, I also was a slave to sin. I loved sin and relished every “fun” moment it could provide me. What started out as a little innocent partying as a teen became a full blown addiction by the time I was in college. Even worse, my body was falling apart due to the nearly 125 pills I was washing down with alcohol every week. I recall looking at my hands in court one day and wondering how I had gotten to that point in my life? How was I so alone? How did I become a criminal? How would I ever shake my addiction and turn things around?
Sadly, I knew I couldn’t change a thing. I had spent years in and out of behavioral institutions and still hadn’t improved as a human being. If there were any steps to work, I had worked them with all of my strength. If there were any medications to take, I had already popped them. If there was some sort of self help philosophy to practice, I had already chased it. It all failed me. By the time I was 21 I had given up on all of this “help” the world had to offer and had resigned myself to irrelevance. I chillingly recall a night I spent popping a mass amount of pills while a friend tried to encourage me not to because it could kill me. I wrote him off because I honestly didn’t care anymore. I don’t think I was suicidal in my thinking. I just didn’t have the will power to fight it any longer.
Around this time period God intervened in my life in dramatic fashion. Now, I think it’s important for me to stress that I did not grow up in a Christian home. I didn’t know anything about the Bible outside of what people had told me in Sunday school. I had only believed in a higher power that I had learned about in Alcoholics Anonymous, but I never identified who exactly that higher power was. The reason why I tell you this is because I was totally blindsided by what God did for me. I was in desperate need for some spiritual surgery in my life and the great physician showed up to my death bed. I wasn’t looking for Him, but He surely had found me.
While facing a prison sentence, (through various circumstances), I met a man (Pete Orta) in Texas who ran a young men’s recovery home called In Triumph. We spoke on the phone and he agreed to help me but I still had a major wrinkle to work out in order to get there. I was a felon in the state of Alabama and it’s not customary to let felons roam free across state lines. I knew this was my last shot at survival so I had no choice but to rely on God to let me go. After a period of time, God showed His faithfulness and the courts decided to let me go to Texas. I was relieved, but the battle had just begun.
During my first days at In Triumph I couldn’t use the bathroom because my kidneys were shutting down from all of the drugs I had consumed. My Pastors wife, Kelli Orta, took me to the emergency room and they were able to get my body functioning again. I would like to tell you that all of this changed who I was, but it didn’t. As soon as I regained my strength I became difficult to deal with. This is where my story differs from someone being saved from a burning car. These people had taken me in their home and physically saved my life through their service, but my bad character was still killing me and physical strength couldn’t solve that problem.
People tend to look at my story as if it were about getting off of drugs, but that’s only a minimal view of what actually happened in order for me to find freedom. Drugs were never my issue. I had a rebellious heart towards God and I had a plethora of character flaws that needed to be rooted out. I was physically healing while inside the walls at In Triumph, but the same heart and mind that had driven me to the cusp of hell was still active and thriving. This meant that my body was sober but my spirit was not. I needed someone to save me from my inner workings but how would they do it? How would this program be able to change my deepest thoughts and habits?
It was through an intense process of discipleship that they did it. After some difficulties, and a lot of theology lessons, Christ changed my heart. I was a different person once He did, but I also was still in need of a lot of tweaking. God was gracious to me in this area.
He put me in front of a man who would never give up on me, no matter how difficult I became. It saved my life. All of his and his family’s patience, love, commitment, and kindness eventually won me over. I started to trust them with my life and follow their ways because they simply wouldn’t quit on me when I had challenged them to. I had never experienced that kind of loyalty before and it melted my heart of stone at a rapid pace.
The point of this blog isn’t to pull some emotional strings inside of you so you will give me a “like” on Facebook. It’s deeper than that. I wanted to share with you how In Triumph saved my life. I wanted to give the Lord glory through his servants in that they did it through self denial. It’s true that they didn’t take a bullet for me in the middle of the street, but they did lay their lives down in order for me to gain one. Who does that? Where is the boasting when it comes to self denial for the sake of the less fortunate? We all like to talk about how tough we are in a physical situation, but why don’t we boast about what we would do for others in a spiritual one? We don’t boast because deep down we understand that a spiritual sacrifice is the one that requires the most courage and that thought humbles us. It’s not something you grab with your hands or use brawn to overcome. It takes faith and commitment.
Of course, the glory goes to God because He had changed their lives far before they ever met me. He had already given them the strength and desire to open their home up to people like myself. It was their calling. That’s why I’m not trying to shame people into thinking they have to do the same. What I am asking is that you share this blog and help us provide In Triumph for someone else. You don’t have to run into a burning building to be a hero in someones life. You can simply raise awareness and in that become a tool that God uses to provide this program for some unknown name out there who is suffering.
In Triumph saved my life because its staff faithfully preached the gospel to me day in and day out and they always handled my life with utmost care. They are the most humble people I know so they won’t take that credit, but I want to give it to them anyways. They sacrificed their freedoms and family time to pull me from the burning flames of my life.
Today I am a a man of God and licensed minister of the gospel. I counsel other addicts coming into the program and I’m also an author to boot. None of this would have been possible if it weren’t for the undying love of God and his people’s obedience to his will. Someone had to save my life. Will you be the person who saves someone else?