Sam's Story

"I grew up in a home where my dad took us to church but my mom didn’t go.  She negated everything I heard at church that was good, and my dad reinforced her feelings by not living out his faith.  I remember being very confused and feeling lost.  My parents divorced when I was in eighth grade, which made me feel even more lost and very angry.  So when I tried alcohol for the first time at 16, I was hooked.  When I drank it seemed as though all my problems disappeared.

Fast forward in life to me being married with children, owning a home, and trying to cope with the pressure of life.  I struggled to say the least.  My wife and I attended church, but I did not have a relationship with Jesus.  I was verbally abusive and manipulated everyone around me to get what I wanted.  I was so lost and miserable. 

In 2001, I started a leadership class at my church to be a small group leader.  The first question asked in class was, “Do you, without a doubt, know that you’re going to heaven when you die?”  I couldn’t answer.  I decided to meet with a pastor to talk about it further.  I accepted Jesus into my heart and started growing as a Christian.  I was experiencing victory in some areas of my life, but I was still very angry and had no idea why.  I thought I was crazy!  But in reality, I was using alcohol as a coping mechanism and never really dealing with the sin issues that were plaguing me.

In 2011, I was let go from my job and it destroyed me.  I turned to alcohol to numb the pain.  I tried to keep it hidden as much as possible, but my problems kept getting worse. I was so ashamed of what I was doing but no matter what I did, I just couldn’t stop.  I started working again after almost two years.  My job was in a retail store where I worked almost every Sunday, which meant that I stopped going to church and being involved.  Over the course of about four years, my alcoholism grew to unstoppable lows. I did whatever I wanted with no regard for anyone.  I pushed away everyone who loved me, and they were scared of me. 

During this four year period, I was arrested for a DUI.  I was miserable!  I isolated myself from anyone who loved me and wanted what was best for me.  Instead, I surrounded myself with people who encouraged my behavior.  I repeat - I was miserable!  I hated who I had become and just wanted to die. 

June 21, 2016 was the best worst day of my life.  I was fired from my job for coming to work intoxicated.  I went home and confessed to my wife what had happened. She walked out - took the kids and left.  I was all alone!  I didn’t know what to do or where to go.  I called my pastor from the church I barely went to and asked if I could talk with him.  When I sat down with him I brought to light what a mess I was.  I expected to leave feeling worse than when I came, but that didn’t happen.  He said something that blew me away.  He told me that he loved me!  We talked about how God still loves me and is happy that I turned to Him.  We also talked about me going to the Victory Acres program, but I was apprehensive about making the 9-month commitment.  So I went home and tried to pray but didn’t feel like my prayers were going through (really not believing that they were, but in fact they were).  I spoke with my wife about what I should do and she said if there was any hope for us, I needed to do something – a 30-day rehab, Victory Acres, whatever.  So I decided to go to Victory Acres.

While at Victory Acres, God has done amazing things in my life.

While at Victory Acres, God has done amazing things in my life.  In addition to the freedom He has given me from alcohol and drunkenness, He has allowed me to see that blatant obvious sin was a coping mechanism to be able to deal with my shortcomings and to cover up a myriad of other sins. He has helped me tackle issues such as trust, pride, humility, lust, anger, foul language, idolatry, and most of all – shame.  These sins kept me from experiencing my purpose, which is to bring glory to God!  God is restoring my marriage through Biblical marriage counseling and He is restoring my relationship with my kids.  He has allowed me to get to a place of forgiveness with my parents.  My relationship with Him is renewed and I am excited to spend time with Him every day!  Although, I’m not where I feel I should be, I realize it’s not about me.  It’s about Him and the love He has for me.  I look forward to seeing what God has in store for my life and I will praise Him and give Him the glory for it."


sam's story was featured in "the Hope", Peoria Rescue Ministries' newsletter.