"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Adam's Story of Rejection, Abuse, Drugs, and Love

http://www.emmanuelenid.org/Emmanuel Enid has a powerful thrice-weekly ministry to men and women incarcerated in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Every Sunday morning between 40 to 50 pre-release DOC inmates join us for our corporate worship services and a small group time. Every Sunday night they come back for another small group time at our building we call the Grace Place. Different Emmanuel members bring some home-cooking, and after sharing a meal, the inmates talk about what the Lord is doing in their lives. Many choose to stay in Enid when they get out of the Department of Corrections, moving their families to our city. When they introduce me to their family members, many of them tell me they've decided to move to Enid 'because of Emmanuel.'

Our business owners in the church are giving these recently released offenders jobs. I'm told they are some of the best employees in their respective fields. A couple in our church recently felt led to begin a small group for men and women newly released from prison called FREE WORLD. Last Sunday morning, Justin Parrish, the small group leader, baptized a young man who had surrendered his life to Christ through the ministries of Emmanuel Enid and Free World.

Every Wednesday night, around 20 to 25 of our DOC friends come to my mid-week Bible study. I love these folks. I'm not just saying that; I really mean it. I love them. They are one of the reasons that the ministry at Emmanuel Enid has been so fulfilling these last five years. We are seeing lives transformed by the power of Christ. 

Last night, right before I began to teach the mid-week Bible study, one of the incarcerated men stepped up to me and handed me a folded piece of paper. He said to me, "Pastor Wade, I don't know why I felt the need to write down my life story. I sensed God wanted me to give it to you. I can't thank you enough for what this church has done for me. You've saved my life. I now understand that God can love me because I see and feel people here loving me." He had tears in his eyes as he told me this. He said I could read his letter later, but I snuck away for a couple of minutes and read it before I taught.

Oh my.

My eyes got a little moist too. I later asked Adam if I could share his story on my blog, using only his first name. He said, "Yes. I hope my story helps someone."  Adam has no access to a computer, but after you read his story below, if it impacts you, leave him a message in the comment stream. I'll make sure he gets it.

The best thing that ever happened to our church is the realization that God has called us to stand in streets of conflict and not sit in seats of comfort. The tradition of religion invites trendy people to church, but the message of grace impacts messy people to conversion. Inviting the upper class to "come and see" is definitely easier, cleaner, and cheaper. But impacting a society's forgotten is more fulfilling. It's Kingdom work. It's what our King would have us do. It's a big picture purpose of ministry because it's both eternal and transformational.

The reason churches develop an ingrown isolation from the world is because we've forgotten the King's commission to transform the world. We are salt and light.  We're not supposed to cover our light nor are we to lose our efficacy as salt.  We are to shine where darkness resides and invade decay where it abides.

I'm honored to partner with people who understand this principle.

___________________________

Adam's Story

Dear Pastor Wade,

I am not quite clear on why I had an urge to tell you about my past, my trials and tribulations, and what kind of impact you and now "my" church home have had on me, so let's start from the beginning. 

I do not recall anything before the age of 4. My first and earliest vivid memory is when the police took me and my brother out of our home in Marietta, Oklahoma. I remember turning around in the cop car as it drove away, seeing my mother running down the street after us screaming "No, my babies!" I was put into a children's shelter and was there for only a short time. Both my brother and I were sexually assaulted. After a few months, we were separated. My brother went to a group home and I was placed in a foster home. 

For a time everything was fine until I was again sexually molested by another foster child. I was then taken away from that foster home for the same reason the police took me away from my parents - "Drugs." From there I was placed in another home where I was secluded to the couch. My foster parents fed me as little as possible. I was told not to move and I was always hungry.

I was rescued from this house and moved back to my original foster mom who had since divorced her drug-addicted husband. About a year later I was returned to my birth parents whom I hadn't seen in four years and had no memory of except for my mom running down the street after the cop car.

I was eight years old when I came home.

For the next two years I was sexually molested by my biological brother; the same brother who was harmed in the children's home four years earlier. At this point, though I was young, I turned from God and blamed Him for everything. I still struggle today with all that happened during those two years.

When I was 11 or 12 years of age, I can remember my parents doing drugs again. Though it wasn't as severe as before, they still shut me out of their lives due to their drug use. I turned to anything to keep me away from home. At 15 I held a full-time job and went to school. I played in the high school band. Those were my high school years; work, band, school. It worked. I kept myself busy until I graduated.

At 18 all I had was my job. My dad started getting really sick. He had triple bypass surgery when I was 18, so I moved back home to help. I started smoking pot. I smoked dope for three years to help me deal with my pain. After three years my dad ended up on dialysis. One day, before his hip surgery, he called me in and told me he was giving up. During surgery, something went wrong and dad ended up in ICU. 3 days later we took him off the ventilator. On July 25, 2011, the last words I spoke to my dad before he died were "Don't worry about Momma. I'll take care of her." 

But I fell really deep into drugs. I got married. A year later we split up. I got caught selling drugs and was charged with 2 counts of distribution. I was discharged from jail the day after Memorial Day 2014. Two months later, in July 2014, I got into an argument with my mom.

I watched her drive away for the last time. 

Two weeks later I found my mom had died (July 25, 2014), three years to the day that my dad had died (July 25, 2011). I never found out why she died, but I believe she overdosed on some of my dad's old medication. I dove even deeper into my addiction after mom's death. I was arrested again on drug charges. On September 15, 2016, I was headed back to prison. I spent one year at the Bill Johnson Correctional Center in Alva. While I was there, my custody of my one-year-old daughter was terminated.

On October 24, 2017, one year ago today, I came to the DOC's Enid Community Corrections Center and currently reside there. 

Let me tell you about this last year.

I began attending Emmanuel. For the past year, you all have taken me in and showed me love and a peace among people that I never in my wildest dreams imagined could have existed. While I've been at Emmanuel, the love and acceptance I've been given mirror the image of the one true, living God. Ya'll have helped me understand His love and grow in faith. I'm learning to love others the way God wants me to love because I'm learning what love is. His love. Your love. 

I am developing a sense of hope. Emmanuel has given that to me. I will never be able to repay you. 
You all have saved my life. 

All I can do is say 'Thank You.'

Adam

_______________________________________

14 comments:

Troy Rigel said...

It never ceases to amaze me of the life changing power of God's grace. You will be in my prayers every time God brings you to mind as i go forward and I wish you nothing but the best as you grow in God's grace and mercy. God Bless

Anonymous said...

THAT IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT IT!!!

Through the ups and downs and continued struggles - Grace Wins EVERY TIME!

Brian said...

Adam,

So thankful for how the Lord is at work in your life. Thanks for being willing to be vulnerable enough to allow your story to be shared. God is good, and He is clearly at work in your life. Love you, man!

Christiane said...

"Many choose to stay in Enid when they get out of the Department of Corrections, moving their families to our city. When they introduce me to their family members, many of them tell me they've decided to move to Enid 'because of Emmanuel.'"

this made me smile :)

thank God for your ministry, Wade, it was much needed for these folks and now they have a 'home'

Christiane said...

God bless you, ADAM, forever and ever

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

What’s the old saying? “If that doesn’t light your fire, you’re wood’s wet.”

This is going to our church.

Anonymous said...

Bless your heart, Adam! I'm so so sorry for the pain and neglect in your younger years. My heart goes out to you! However I'm so happy that you have found the peace that God's grace can provide you. While I love it and am so grateful to be a part of this grace-based church, always remember that it is a personal relationship between you and God.. Thanks for sharing your story!




Anonymous said...

Adam, my heart aches and then rejoices with you. I am so sorry for the dark road you have walked, but so thankful that you have found your home (on the road to home).

Julie Anne said...

Hi Adam,

You have gone through so much pain, but that is only part of your story. I'm glad that you have now found freedom and the love of Christ. I don't understand why some of us have to go through abuse, but I do know that God can use our painful past to help others. It has happened to me, and I think when people read your story, others will be encouraged, too. Hugs to you from a very tall redhead from SE Washington state! :)

Tom Ross said...

Adam

May the Lord continue to draw you into His loving embrace and purposes for your life.

May the number of people who want to "party" with God over your decision to embrace your Father God for the Hope that He provides to all who are repentant, grow rapidly into a sea of righteous people as we all gather together to sing our praises to Him as a sweet, sweet fragrance of acceptable sacrifice worthy of His Name.

May you know God's abundant blessings and be secure in His Grace expressed by Him for you, Amen.

Anonymous said...

Thought this was interesting. And certainly the first admission of being duped by forgeries.

https://edition-m.cnn.com/2018/10/26/us/evangelicals-dead-sea-scrolls/index.html?r=android-app%3A%2F%2Fcom.google.android.gm

Christiane said...

Hello Wade,
I think, in your prison ministry, you and the people of Emmanuel have displayed something of a 'Franciscan' spirituality in your ability to reach out and to help these people who are in need of Christ's loving-care. I have thought about it, and looking back, you initially long ago did work for the police department as a Christian minister, which gave you a background of understanding with people in trouble that you might not have had otherwise, and I think that your work at that time was a blessed work to prepare you for your current outreach.

And you walked away from the 'authoritarian' worldly, controlling methods of the Patterson model of 'leadership' and went steadily towards helping victims of that disaster, and towards a self-giving Christian service of ministry that is open to caring for those who live lives that have experienced great pain . . . . in short, you have had compassion for those who were 'lost and confused and without a shepherd';
and may God bless you for being open to this journey which is deeply rooted in the love of Christ Who enabled St. Francis of Assisi also on his journey long ago to walk away from worldly ways and to be touched by Christ so that he, Francis, was able to 'embrace the leper' and serve him in a way that Our Lord Himself had shown was possible also for our human kind to do. Your ministry with its 'home cooking' and with its welcoming has shown helped these wounded souls know that 'God was in this place, and they did not know it'; and no wonder they are moving their families to Enid. No wonder.

RB Kuter said...

Perhaps describing Wade's response as displaying a Christlike spirituality would be more accurate, similar to Francis. I imagine that was what was meant.

David Burckhardt said...

Thank you, Adam for sharing your story. God has directed your path to Enid and Emmanuel and your story of hope and grace will affect many others in your future. God bless!