It controlled my life for 10 years. I was 20 years old and had dropped out of school at the age of twelve. I first came into contact with ecstasy pill when my manager of a construction firm I worked in offered me one. I accepted it, thinking that it was just a tablet and that I could control it. Very quickly, I was addicted to it, I lost all interest in work, quit my job, and just indulged in partying. When I ran out of money, I would find ways to find money. Eventually, ecstasy could no longer satisfy me. Desperate to feed this addiction further, I started consuming other drugs like marijuana, ketamine and methamphetamine.
For those 10 years I lived a miserable life. Every day my first thought waking up was to find money in order to feed the addiction. I would borrow money from illegal ‘loan-sharks’. By the year 2007, being completely broke, I decided to peddle illegal drugs. I got caught in no time and was sentenced to six and a half years in prison and 10 strokes of cane. I had thought prison life would change me, but my heart remained hardened, still getting involved in a gang and other illegal activities. At that time, I did ask myself, “Why can’t I turn over a new leaf, even being locked up in prison?” There was a void in my heart nothing seemed able to fill. Hopelessness overwhelmed me.
A year before I was due to be released, I was doing exercises in the yard one day when the speaker blared overhead: “Christian counselling standby”. A voice inside my heart asked me to go. It felt strange, I did not know how to describe it. Nevertheless, I obeyed the voice and queued up to go to the counselling room. I had not registered for the session but God opened three gates from the yard to the counselling room for me. Each of these gates usually had a warden but that day, there was no warden at all three gates.
During the worship session, my heart felt very warm. I know now it was the Holy Spirit. From that point on, I never stopped attending the counselling sessions in prison. God placed many Christian brothers around me, even in my cell, and I began my journey of faith, praying and reading the Bible. In my quiet time with God, He had pointed me to 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
One month before my release, my Christian brothers told me about a halfway house, explaining that it is a Christian home for the rehabilitation of drug addicts. After praying to God, I had peace that that was where He wanted me to be. I sought the advice of the person-in-charge of the prison fellowship, and she recommended me to The Hiding Place. In November 2011, after my release, I checked into The Hiding Place.
Redirecting my freedom to serve God and others at The Hiding Place had not been easy. Over time, God moulded me and helped me deal with my anger, bitterness and jealousy. Living with people, I became more patient, more gracious, and more understanding, At the same time, I was equipped in a spiritual environment and was often reminded that like Noah in the Bible, it was where I built my own ark, consecrated myself, and flee from sinful desires.
For the last two years, God began to give me kingdom assignments to serve Him and others. I have been sharing my testimony at several local churches as well as encouraging the brothers at the prison fellowship. From a nobody who only knew how to make many bad and wrong choices, God has shown His faithfulness in my life by using me in His ministry, doing things I would never have dreamed of doing. Challenges remain but each time I see a brother’s life transformed by Jesus to serve Him and His kingdom purposes, it gives me joy and the motivation to keep keeping on for Him.
How are you stewarding your freedom? Ps Henson writes in his book Alignment Check, “The world craves for freedom that is self-serving. Unfortunately, in the church we are not much different. In touting liberty as licence, many are deceived and enslaved once again.” We were once enslaved by sin to serve and satisfy ourselves. Today, as kingdom subjects, we have been freed to love and serve others.
“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
Are you largely living and running your own life without any reference to the One who secured your freedom with His life? Are you engaged in Christian activities but totally unaware of what your kingdom assignment is? Check your alignment. Redirect your freedom.
Cary oversees the Chinese ministry and Prison Fellowship at The Hiding Place (THP). He enjoys a good soccer game with the THP residents and singing praise songs to God. He is learning to play the guitar.