Daniel W — Portland, OR

Hello, my name is Daniel.  I am 28 years old and I was born and raised in Portland Oregon.  I came to know the Lord through my wife Jennifer about five years ago when I had hit bottom (for the first time), while we sat in the grass at Waterfront Park. She had taken me to church with her a few times, and as I looked around at all the people, I saw something that I was not used to seeing.  I saw peace and joy and love. I wanted what they had.  I cried out and asked Jesus into my heart and I knew then that there was a God and that he loved me. Even after asking Him into my heart, I struggled with wrapping my mind around Him and His love for me, but I knew I would never be alone again. I didn’t grow up in a church, although as a child I was occasionally forced to go to VBS in the summer time. I will rewind back and start at the beginning to give a better idea of where I came from. 

I grew up with my mom and my siblings in southeast Portland.  As a child, I didn’t realize how dysfunctional my family was, but as I got older, I started to see it.  I grew up without my biological father.  My family lied to me throughout my childhood about how he had died.  It was the big family secret.  They all told me that he had died of a heart attack, but I later came to find out through a drunken phone call by my brother, that he had committed suicide when I was an infant. This newly found information quickly sent me further into a downward spiral of drug use as I struggled to grasp it all. I thought it was my fault. I wondered what I had done to cause him to take his life.

I was exposed to pornography in the 5th grade.  I stumbled across some magazine pictures in the woods near my  school.  That is when the door was opened.  I remember from then on, I became obsessed with the female body.  It was a visual stimulation that I had never experienced before. As I got older, it became more and more of a stronghold on my life.

At age 12, I was searching for acceptance and I smoked pot for the first time behind a dumpster behind a local school.  I was hooked.  It “freed” me from the pain I felt inside. My habit quickly progressed into smoking it daily, and soon all day everyday.  Eventually, in an attempt to “make mom like me”, I bought her a pipe and some pot for Christmas and began smoking it with her.  I thought this was a good way to get closer to her as I knew she was a smoker. I felt a lot of pain from growing up without a father, mom always yelling at me, and my siblings dealing with the emotions of suicide. I wanted the pain to go away. I wanted to be good.  I wanted my mom to accept me, so I became a performer. If I only tried harder, people would like me. The only time I felt acceptance was when I won the races on the swim team, or when I got good grades.  So with those two things I put all I had into them. I broke school records in swimming and graduated at the top of my class with a cumulative G.P.A. of  3.89.  I loved it when people gave me attention and cheered for me. It felt good when mom was proud of me. Those feelings were few and far between, though, and the majority of the time I was in constant pain. I quickly learned that the pot suppressed that pain inside, and that I could get attention by being the class clown.  If I were a goof ball, people would like me and accept me. And so, I kept getting deeper and deeper into a people-pleasing lifestyle. It was during these high school years that I also starting using other drugs like mushrooms and LSD.  

Out of high school, I started going to raves (all-night dance parties). I love music and amplified sound.  I would do Ecstasy and acid, and would stand there and watch in awe, as the DJ would mix one song into another, making a continuous dance beat.  All of the buttons and knobs intrigued me. I liked how he controlled it all.  I wanted that. I wanted to be in the spotlight. I bought some turntables and quickly realized my natural sense of rhythm.  Soon I was up there playing at clubs and parties around town.  I loved the attention and thought that I had arrived. I got deeper into doing Ecstasy, and soon moved to Cocaine. These drugs went hand in hand with my addiction to pornography.  I became a cheating, depressed and angry person. I lived a double life for several years. My wife eventually separated from me, as the pain was too much to bear.  This was our first separation.  During that time, things got much worse. I started losing things, people and jobs. But even though times were rough, I tried to press in. I know God was there. I joined Celebrate Recovery at my home church, City Bible Church. It was here that I really started to slowly move toward victory.  I quit using dope, staying clean long enough to even get my family back. But things quickly returned right back to where they were.  I couldn’t live the lie anymore, and one morning as I came  home at 7am again, I opened up to my wife and shared what I had been doing. That launched our second separation.  This one lasted a year and a half before I was sober long enough, and had earned enough trust, for my wife to let me back into her life. I stayed clean even longer this time, and in May of 2007, Jenn and I had a vow-renewal ceremony at our church. It was the wedding we never had. I thought I had it all together finally. But then I stopped working on my recovery.  I thought I was fixed.  I stopped going to meetings and stopped calling my accountability partners, and soon found myself hanging out with all my old buddies. It didn’t take long before I was smoking pot and doing cocaine again. I spent a lot of my income on drugs, leaving my wife to stress over the bills. I was so full of guilt and shame that I hid it from everybody including my wife. I already knew what the consequences would be.  I thought, “I can do this.  I’ll just get clean again and she won’t ever have to know.” YEAH RIGHT! And so I continued living the double life.  On the outside I portrayed a happy person, but inside I was hurting bad. I couldn’t even pick up my Bible because I was so convicted. I knew the truth, but was so angry with myself and ashamed that I slipped right back into the old lifestyle. I became very short-tempered and selfish again. Eventually, my wife started discerning that something wasn’t right. One night after using, I came home and while in the shower, my wife read my text messages, (the Lord put it on her heart) and quickly realized what was going on. She was so hurt and ready to end it, but by the grace of God, she gave me one last chance.  Deep down I was so relieved that some light had been shined into my dark world.

We met with some elders of our church and some of my accountability partners from Celebrate Recovery. This is where I was informed that the only way she would stay married to me is if I agreed to go into an inpatient treatment program. This was my last chance. At first, I was thinking it would be 28 days like the movie, and when I found out that it would be a year, I was devastated. I was willing to do whatever it took, and was presented a list of possible options of places to go. Out of all the places, Freedom House came to the top of everybody’s list, including mine. I have no doubt that God led me here. I know that God knows my heart for Jesus and for my family, and so he opened this amazing door of opportunity called Freedom House. Even though I knew he led me here, I was very apprehensive. I had never committed to anything like this. I was going to do whatever it took to keep my family and came here with the wrong motives at first.  But God quickly changed my thoughts and heart and I soon realized what an incredible blessing and opportunity this was for my family and I. I know that I will be able to be a better Dad to Isaak.  God is teaching me to be the father that I never had.  I’m so excited that God has pulled out his divine toolbox to work on changing me from the inside out. I have seen much growth in my character and in my walk with the Lord. He has surrounded me with loving and supportive brothers who are eager to come along side me in my walk toward victory. This program is very structured with a great deal of accountability. It is just what I needed. It has really helped me to understand that my actions and words have consequences, good or bad. We memorize quite a bit of scripture, which is amazing because I can see the change that occurs by hiding God’s Word in my heart. We also spend a lot of time in prayer, both personal and group time as well as having classroom studies with different staff members.  Pastor Jim Cottrell has such a heart for us guys who are on the road to recovery.  He is an amazing man of God, and challenges me daily as we move line by line through God’s Word. He believes in us and is dedicated to doing God’s work. I hold a great deal of respect for him. The staff and volunteers here are great people of faith and grace.

I am grateful to God for putting such an amazing companion, Jenn, into my life. I look up to her, as she is an amazing woman of faith. She is my best friend, and I am thankful that she believes in our marriage and me enough to endure, when most women would have been gone long ago. She has such a heart for the Lord as well as for other broken hurting people. I am also happy that my son Isaak is standing with me through this process.  He is my favorite “lil dude” in the whole world.

In closing, I want to express my gratitude to all those who support this work and are standing by my family and I as we are on this journey toward recovery and freedom. I pray that anyone who reads this will be touched and that God would put it on their heart to help support this life-changing ministry. I look back in amazement on how far I’ve traveled from the past destruction to a new personal strength and confidence in God. 

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.       
Isaiah 58:11-12

 “Oftentimes, God will send you what you need in a package you don’t want.”

                                                               -John Bevere

                                                                                                                                                  Free at last,   Daniel W

Daniel successfully completed his one-year commitment to
Freedom House Ministries Program
on August 14, 2009 becoming Graduate #14
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