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My life before Christ was a whirlwind of self driven, self destructive behavior

I will avoid boring you with the “war stories “ of my years of addiction. The main point is that I used substances to avoid pain, fear and give me a false sense of “success “. When something good happened to me, I alone took the credit. Deep down inside, drugs and alcohol were my way of escaping life on life’s terms. In the process, I did damage that I did not see at the time. I look back now and see how the ripple effect of my lifestyle had caused pain to others. I always had a concept of God, at least I thought I did. I prayed many “foxhole “ prayers to him when I wanted help out of a bind or wanted something I didn’t have.

I fancied myself as a person who cared about others. I truly have always been that way. I sobered up and eventually became a counselor with the goal of helping others overcome addictions. I was told that I was helpful, and enjoyed my work.

Something happened to me about 3 years ago that changed my life.

At the time, I was an emotional wreck, wondering why I lacked true happiness and purpose. I was introduced to Church by a friend. I reluctantly accepted the invitation. I wasn’t very optimistic that I could find answers there, but all of my self-devised “fixes” had failed. I was emotionally and spiritually devoid. I thought “why not “.

Upon my arrival at Church for the first time in years, I was greeted by people who frankly scared me. Surely this joyous attitude was an act, I thought to myself. No one was truly as happy as these people around me. None of these people obviously have any idea what a mess I was and what I had been through in life. I entered the Church and listened to the music and the sermon. I wouldn’t call it a life changing experience, but I did feel something….. a spark of hope maybe.

I kept coming back.

People who were once as broken as me

told me that Christ and the fellowship of believers as well as this thing they kept referring to as the “Holy Spirit “ had saved them. I signed up for a bible study to learn more. At the end of the session, the church pastor asked me to stay behind and talk to him. He wanted to hear my story. He patiently listened as I blurted out the honest truth of my life for the first time. When I was done, he told me that I was exactly where I needed to be and God loved me just as I was. He told me that I was loved and that I had a purpose in God’s plan. He hugged me and told me that I was welcome to come along on a journey with God.

What did I have to lose?

I started getting involved in the church and connecting with christians. My transformation was not overnight. It was gradual. One thing I could not deny was for the first time in my life, I felt like I REALLY belonged somewhere. I reconnected with a friend who I had met along my recovery journey. We were asked to serve by hosting meetings of fellow addicts and alcoholics who were seeking a way out through Christ. This was a life changing experience for me; to use the power of God to help spread hope for the hopeless. Sure, I had helped people before in my counseling work, but this felt different. It was not a job as much as a privilege.

My friend and partner had been traveling the path of Christ longer than I, so I watched, listened and learned from his example. The best advice he gave me was to “lead with love”; words I now repeat daily as I fight the good fight.

Today I can say that I have given my life to Christ

I have a sense of peace that I once thought was impossible to achieve. Sure, I still struggle. I have bad days and good days, but I try my best to let God steer my ship.

I don’t have everything I want, but I surely have everything I need.

I am present in my marriage and relationships. I give all the glory and thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. In doing this, I am able to face adversity with new intention. When I met Joey, he helped me define and break down my goals into manageable pieces. With his help, I was able to create a business that serves the addicted who may not be able to receive conventional treatment due to whatever reasons. The focus he said, must always be rooted in Gods work. I believe God put me in the place I needed to be at the perfect time. By helping others, I help myself grow spiritually. All the glory goes to the one who pulled me from my dark pit. That name is Jesus. I praise him and thank you for taking me at my worst and giving me your best.

Jim Bogensberger

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