ADAM F - SALEM, OR
 
My name is Adam F and I was born in Twin Falls, Idaho.  When I was about 2 years old my family moved to North Pole, Alaska, then to Juneau before moving to Anchorage when I was 16.  We didn’t have a lot of money growing up but my dad, Tony, worked hard and I can’t ever remember really wanting for anything.  He was a long haul trucker and drove from Fairbanks, Alaska to Prudhoe Bay. This route is probably one of the most dangerous to drive in the world; it is a lot like the ice road truckers featured on the Discovery Channel.  It takes a lot of skill and my dad was good at it.  I remember when my brothers and I would take turns riding with him on the 3-day trip.  It was definitely a highlight of my childhood.  I can remember visiting my dad’s friends and hearing all the war stories about what a tough guy my dad was and I thought that was so cool because they made him seem like some kind of hero you see on TV.  He was definitely my hero, but at the same time his toughness made it hard to talk to him about some things.  I always thought I had to be tough too and I felt like he was so proud of me when I won a fight, even when he would act upset for my mom’s sake.   I wish I would have taken his good qualities as a father  and passed them to my children.
 
My mom, Janet, is a very loyal and loving person.  I have no doubt she would do anything she could for me.  Mom raised 3 boys and we weren’t angels either.  Though she must have felt like a single parent because my father was gone a lot driving truck, I don’t ever remember her complaining.  Mom was the glue that held our family together, doing her best to keep my dad’s temper under control and peace between 3 boys who always had a reason to fight.  In her spare time she managed to get us boys to all our practices for sports and when my dad started getting sick she stood by him faithfully, knowing what it meant to work hard to keep a marriage together.  On top of all this she went to school to be an accountant.  Mom is the most under appreciated, over achiever I know.  Both of my parents did the best they could with me and I hope they don’t blame themselves for my problems because my bad choices were mine.
 
When I attended a private Christian school for 1st or 2nd grades, I remember the principal telling me I was the type of kid that made teachers want to quit teaching.  It used to be kind of a joke in my family.  It wasn’t funny though and no matter how hard I pretended it was funny, it stuck with me.  I think this may be why I never put much faith in God or school.   By 5th grade I was diagnosed with ADHD and was prescribed Ritalin.  I think this was a mistake.  I already felt like I was stupid because I never had a passing report card and now had to take a pill so I could be normal.  My first experience with drugs was a prescription and all I remember about it was that it slowed me down in sports.  I used to pretend to take them and then throw them away.  My friend, Melody, told her older brother, known as the coolest kid in the neighborhood, and he offered to trade alcohol for them.  Just the fact that I had something he wanted made me cool and I took the deal.  Melody then told me about her cool outlaw biker step-dad offering her weed.  She told me how fun it was to smoke it and I didn’t hesitate when she offered me some.  It was during this time that my neighborhood friends and I hung out in an abandoned house.  My friends would steal pot or alcohol from their parents and if we didn’t have pot or alcohol we would huff gas.  Sometimes Melody’s step-dad would give her drugs.  This house was our escape from the world until a couple of the kids from the neighborhood were huffing gas and spilled it on one of the girls and wanted to see if it would light.   She put her lighter to it and the floor burst into flames and my friend, Trisha, with it.  Thank God she made it, but the house didn’t.  North Pole was a chapter of my life that set the stage for the next 15 years.   When we got to Juneau I had no problem making friends.  They were just different kids, but with the same problems.
 
My dad is a diabetic and when we were in Juneau his kidneys failed so he had to start doing dialysis every other day.  It was hard to see him like this because I had always thought of him as indestructible and now he was dying.  It was hard to see my hero helpless and I felt helpless.  I also felt like a disappointment to my dad because he always told me that the worse thing a man could be was to be a thief or a liar… I was both.   Instead of being strong for my parents and helping them when they needed me I chose to run from my problems and get high.  My mom couldn’t look for me every time I would run off, but more than once she would have to come pick me up from the police station for all kinds of things, from minor consuming to burglary.   In the 9th grade my dad told me if I didn’t like his rules I could leave so I did.  I know I could have gone home but I was too stubborn because I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it.   My dad saw me on the street one day and told me he was the same age when he moved out on his own.  He told me he loved me, gave me a couple hundred dollars and took me to the DMV to get an ID card.  I thought if he could do it then so could I… right?
 
Life on the streets wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  I discovered you can’t get a place to live without a job and I didn’t have any interest in a job.  A couple of my friends and I started robbing and stealing, and I would bounce from one friend’s house to another until their parents would kick me out.  It was during this time that I started feeling a great weight of depression come over me and I felt that I didn’t need anyone.  One night I ended up going to the junkyard behind the mall to find shelter from the 20° degree weather.  Mentally and physically exhausted, I went in and out of consciousness.   At 5:00 in the morning I set out walking and started feeling warm, which is a sign of hypothermia.  I don’t know how or why but my older brother found me and took me back to his house.   I was so sick that he put me in his bed and got me stoned.  I thought I was going to die.  A couple days later, on Christmas Eve, he took me to my parents’ house where I got a pack of socks and a Bible.  I was lucky I didn’t get a bag of coal.  I wish I would have opened that “Book”, but I didn’t realize that the answer to all my problems was written in its pages.  After we had all opened our presents my parents tried to stop me from leaving, but I took the socks, a hand full of my dad’s pain meds, left the Bible and was out the door.   Shortly after, I left town because I was wanted for questioning about an armed robbery.   When I got to Anchorage I was more than ready for a fresh start but I still wasn’t ready to admit to being wrong about anything.  Like everything else I did I had to learn the hard way… that the street only cares about itself.
 
I met my wife, Lea, and her 2-year old son, Dustin when I was 18 years old.  She was dating my crime partner, Dale.  One summer we got a job installing fiber optic cable and we all ended up moving to Yakima, WA with the company.  I had a bad coke habit and Yakima had an endless supply.  Dale moved back to Alaska and I fell in love with Lea.  She was beautiful, independent and she didn’t need anyone, but she chose me.  Dustin was a great kid and a blast to be around and they both loved me.  My coke habit only got worse and I ended up losing my job.  We moved to Salem, OR where Lea’s family lived.  This was the best time of my life because I had a great job, a family to take care of and I was doing it on my own for the first time in my life... then I discovered crystal meth.  Lea and I started using it slowly and she got clean for her pregnancy, but I never stopped.  When Conner was born we got married, but we didn’t invite Jesus into our marriage and slowly but surely we got out of control with our drug use again.  Lea begged me to stop but I didn’t and we lost everything and I lost Lea.  I convinced her to take me back by promising to stop using meth.  All I really did was switch to pills then heroin.  Lea tried to get me to stop, but I was out of control and before long Lea was getting high with me again.  It was during this time that we had our third son, Cole.  Drugs took total control of our lives; we had affairs, we fought, we were both physically and emotionally abusive to each other.  We both spent time in jail and tried secular inpatient rehab, but each time we got together we would hurt each other even worse than before.
 
In the end it got really ugly.  We were both so strung out on heroin that we would do whatever we could to get it and we tore down everyone around us in the process, especially the ones who loved us the most.  The last time I was locked up Lea went way off the deep end and her brother, David, and sister-in-law, Lisa, stepped in to talk her into going to Seattle Teen Challenge.  I was scared but happy she was going.  I knew she couldn’t live the way we were living any more and I couldn’t take care of her or the kids.  I gave up on life; I was homeless and a total failure.  Even though I was happy for Lea, I felt sorry for myself.  I felt like my best and only friend was leaving me.  I had $50 my mom had sent me to get an ID card and with the rest I bought a bag of heroin.  I went to Lea’s house because it was empty and where I planned to take my last plunge because I was done… I didn’t want to live anymore.  I had the radio up so loud that I didn’t hear David come in until he was almost right behind me.  I know now this was God intervening in my life.  If David would have come in 10 minutes later it would have been too late.  He stayed with me all night, talked to me the next day and helped me find Freedom House.  David and Lisa took care of me while I detoxed off the drugs and then brought me to Freedom House.
 
Freedom House wasn’t what I expected it to be.  We don’t really talk about drug use here, but focus instead on the Lord and the truth in His Word.  I have learned more about God in the last 3 months then I knew in my entire life.  I see God working in my life and in the lives of the men around me everyday.  I can see that God has a purpose for me now and I am excited to see what it is.  The most important thing I think I have learned is how to praise Him, even in the storms because I know he is going to use all the things I have been through for good.  When I praise the Lord I feel better, no matter what is bothering me, and for that I am so grateful.  I am also grateful to David and Lisa, for out of their obedience to the Lord, they are making it possible for Lea and I to find freedom from our addictions by caring for our children while we are away.  Also, I am thankful to all those who support Freedom House because without them I would not have found Jesus!

                                                                                                                All Praises to Him!              

                                                                                                                               Adam F