Derick T - Portland, OR
Good day, my name is Derick. I was raised in the Portland – Vancouver metro area, being the youngest of two children.  My folks were together in my earliest memories, raising my older sister and I. Our grandparents from my mom’s side were here in Oregon with my other grandparents on my dad’s side living in Alaska.  Sadly, Mom and Dad broke up and divorced when I was four years old.  Being so young, I couldn’t really grasp the difference, but I saw my dad on the weekends and lived with my mom throughout the week.  During that rocky time I stayed with my grandma.  After returning to my mom’s, we had a baby sitter who abused me sexually.  I was too young to even know what to do about it so I just stuffed it inside.  As I look back, it seemed that my life was normal enough although my sister seemed more of the caretaker while I was the devious one, always getting into trouble.  I set my mom’s bed on fire, I pretended to drive and ran her car into a tree and was cursing with my friends all the time.  My sister Dana, on the other hand, was only a year older than I but was patiently teaching me how to ride my bike, play wall ball and spell words correctly.
Early on several life changing events began to happen.  Dana began to battle a childhood cancer which eventually took her young life at nine years old.  I also began going to church and attending a Christian school.  I was simply too young at the time to fully comprehend all that was happening but thought that all of these dramatic events were somehow normal.  I did focus in on what I was hearing at church and clung to my basic understanding of the truth.  I remember praying at night all by myself.  I would think of the great responsibility I had to pray for others who need Jesus.  Everyone alive needed Jesus and so I determined that I would pray for everyone in the world... starting with my family.
Through the process of my sister’s passing and church attendance at the Baptist church I was introduced to a whole new family dynamic and experience.  I was about ten and it was beginning to dawn on me that perhaps my life was not normal, just unique.  I was seeing such a huge difference in this other family experience that I actually was becoming jealous inside.  I mean here I was with parents that had divorced, my sister has passed away because of this terrible sickness and I am thinking, as a ten year old, that maybe I am cursed or destined to live the life of Job from the Old Testament.
These thoughts washed over me a lot and I came to the determination that I had to just deal with it, it is life and hardships are part of it.  What could I do anyway?  But there were the concerns of others around me so I had to keep these deeper thoughts to myself and pretend to be happy just to keep people from asking me how I was doing.  This seemed to be easier.  I was so tired of talking about it and thinking about it.  It was all such a hard thing to go over and over again. It seemed a waste of time.  So I determined to start stuffing all my emotions within and forgetting the things that I just didn’t want to deal with.  That was how I had resolved the emotional drain of the sexual abuse when I was four and how I dealt with a psychiatrist who also abused me when I was 8 yrs. old.  I was confused by these events but would just stuff the emotions and seemingly dis-attach myself from them.
I made a new friend when I was thirteen, one who would be by my side all through high school.  I didn’t know it then, but he accepted me for who I was and seemed not to judge my outbursts of thoughts but would rather laugh at them.  He was also a devious child growing up, so we became quite the pair having so much in common.  We were in public school and that was when I started experimenting with alcohol. At my friend’s house we made ourselves a pretty strong mixed drink of vodka and orange juice, rather proud that we knew that it was called a “Screwdriver.”  What we did not know was the ratio for the drink.  50/50 sounded good so quickly we felt rather loose.  To this day I remember thinking, this was the real answer… the golden ticket I needed so I can be who I am and not feel ashamed at all…  not one bit.  I decided that whenever I could, I would drink alcohol.  This was true all the way through high school.  Being under the influence enabled me to easily open up to people which led me into relationships with girls.  Before drinking, I was so much more shy and reserved and thus I didn’t have much of a social life but as I drank I found out that if a girl could like me then I guess I could actually like myself too.
Along with teenage alcoholism came other drugs and more girls.  With those choices came new repercussions as well.  Next came Marijuana, then Mushrooms, LSD, and Cocaine.  By the end of High School I was expelled and landed in an alternative school.  After four years of turning my back on God I found it rather easy to simply give up to my guilt, shame and remorse. I was going to make my own bed and sleep in it.  I was motivated to succeed and chose business.  I found great personal satisfaction by climbing the ladder at the local pizza joint. Starting with answering phones I quickly learned more tasks within the restaurant where it eventually led to supervisor, then management.  The acceptance I was trying to find was once again mine, not from the bottle but from working in business. What a boost in my confidence.  I felt that I was in control when running the store.  I could control the money, the schedule (other people’s lives), ordering product, etc. all for the restaurant. However, after the thrill of management dwindled I quickly returned to what I knew worked best… alcohol and drugs.
My drinking and drugging kept taking stuff from me. I lost my driver’s license, next I damaged my relationship with my parents and then my live-in girlfriend left me.  To medicate my emotional pain after our break up, I was drunk most of the time and then that cost me my job which was the only thing that kept me going.  I was a real wreck.  I was financially drained so I couldn’t keep my apartment or any other new job that came my way.  All my bridges where burning and fast.  Mentally numb, monetarily bankrupt, physically sick, and spiritually dead I turned to inpatient treatment.  With inpatient I believed that I could get a quick spin-dry and then start over.  Surely my family would have to see that I was trying.  Fooling others was now becoming my way through the world. I could have it all after inpatient, family, girlfriend, courts, and still be in control.  I had known about what it meant to live for Christ and tried to get back to what was right several times, but there were always those compromises… my drinking, my live in girl friend, my drug use.  The battle in my mind was really getting intense.  I had made many promises to my girlfriend and broken them all over the years.  When she was out of town one night I took this as an opportunity to drink and not get caught.  Not only did I get caught but I was arrested for drinking and driving.  After appearing in court and getting a lawyer, I realized that this was going to be very serious… you see it was my fourth DUII in ten years.

After three days in jail I saw my lawyer and she affirmed that I was looking at real prison time. I wasn’t shocked but hearing it from her began to sink in deep, I felt it in the very center of my being.  When I returned to my cell I fell to my knees crying and not having anywhere else to turn I opened the door to my heart and was ready to let Jesus in. I knew all along that all He really wanted was all of me. I cried out, “Lord I can’t do this any more… I need you.”  The more I confessed the more I cried. It felt really good, I mean really great so I confessed more, and cried more. After a good while all the emotions and all the tears that I’d been stuffing inside had stopped.  Now I listened. One, two, three minutes went by and a smile came on my face as I looked around my 5’ x 6’ cell.  Out loud I asked myself, “What am I smiling about?” Then I burst into laughter. It was obvious…Freedom!  “I’m free, thank you Lord, I’m finally free.”  As this revelation dawned, I knew God had a sense of humor.  It took losing my freedom for the Lord to give me freedom.  Now I know what it means to be free on the inside.

Jeremiah 29:13, says, “And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” I walked through the rest of my time locked up, diligently seeking Him. For nearly two years I practiced praying regularly, studying the Bible and fellowshipping with whoever wanted to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ with me.  There’s a very dark presence in and around the Oregon State Penitentiary and many times where I leaned on God.  It was amazing that whether I walked around the track, was cooking or even lying in my cell I was still feeling so free on the inside.  Immediately after prison I was attending church, I had a great job and a wonderful place to live. Praise the Lord!  Yet only three months later I was starting to take back the things I thought I could handle.  I thought I could fellowship with dark friends.  Knowing that this was a bad decision I began listening to other lies.  And the drinking was back. In a month I lost my job to drinking and had to move not once, but twice because of alcohol.  Running my own life and on my terms once again led me to half way houses, moving in with my parents and failing at several jobs.  Then sure enough, I was back in jail for a three month stretch. This time I was allowed to find a job and go to church while serving my time. I knew exactly what I needed to do.  Slowly I was giving control back to my Lord. After my release I had a well paying job, an apartment three blocks away and my own will was leading and I was alone and in control once again.  In less than two months I lost another job and my roommate was telling me I had to move out. I was drinking my troubles away and watching television.
On this one evening with no cable available, all that was on was the show “Crystal Darkness” and it was on virtually EVERY CHANNEL I shut off the TV!  Then after a couple of minutes I turned it back on and just as I did a phone number popped on the screen.  I heard, “You should call it.”  Without really knowing what I was doing I called and the person gave me the number for Freedom House Ministries and left my name and number.  A staff member returned my call and we talked about the program perimeters and structure.  I was overwhelmed and said that I would get back with them, thinking what a commitment that would take. Hardly a week later I was in deep desperation. It was then I heard “You should call Freedom House.”  Immediately I said, “NO!” However, I was dialing the phone just as quick, still not sure of what I was doing.
This commitment means more than starting over, it means giving my life over.  I am no longer in control.  My hope is to die to self daily, be teachable, seek God in all that I do, and make obedience a true life style, not because I have to but because I love the Lord God who first loved me.  I have learned the patterns of failure and now I am truly learning to trust the Lord with all my heart and surrender my will to His. I had always thought that I was in control, especially when it came to areas of work and employment.  I thought that if my job was prospering then I was prospering.  Or, if I had a girlfriend then life was good.  I was co-dependant on others and on things of the world but it is a fresh and liberating way of life to become dependent upon Christ alone.  Three months ago I thought that a year in residence at Freedom House might be too long to handle but I have come to realize that I am learning the Biblical structure and principles to build my life around.  I am excited to serve the Lord and time is really flying by.  God is always looking out for our best. My outlook towards life has completely changed because of being involved in the training at Freedom House.  No longer is life about me and what I know about the world… life is all about Jesus Christ and what I can do for Him.
I have always heard that if I diligently seek Jesus, the rest shall be added unto me.  Freedom House has given me that opportunity.  Being here has allowed me to focus on Lordship entirely and not be distracted by the day to day stuff.  As I learn to simply focus on Lordship I see now that my worries kept me from growing in God.  Now I can take all my burdens, all my cares to the Lord in prayer and let Him work all things out for good and to His glory.  Growing in the Lord includes becoming obedient and faithful to the truth, not just the things I liked to do but obedient in all that He wants me to follow.  I’m excited about my future because I have a purpose when I am active in His plans.  I’ve enjoyed being an influence and a leader at work and it is my hope that in the future I may continue to be a leader or a godly influence in helping others to grow in Christ.  My daydreams are now filled with what the Lord has planned for me.  As of late I’ve been considering possible missionary work or being more practical and start by helping someone with his or her ministry. This is where I want to start, cleaning the bathrooms of a church or speaking to someone in a different country or culture.
Because of Freedom House I am learning to grow in Christian maturity and prepare in my areas of gifting.  I understand that serving might not be in the area that I want to do, just as long as I do it whole heartily to the Lord. What better job can there be than being involved in a serving ministry?  I’ve spent a majority of my life seeking fulfillment in things of the world.  Now I am certain that fulfillment is found in knowing Christ. With this discipleship training I am overcoming my fear of talking to people about Jesus. I am grateful that He touches the hearts of those who give to support this ministry.  They make it possible for my brothers in Christ and I to even be here.  I don’t have to pay bills while I am here nor do I have to worry about them. I thank God for each donor. It is because of the sacrifices of people whom I don’t even know that make this possible. Thank you so much for being a part of my future.  Your faith is helping make a real change in my life and future. God Bless you.


                                                                                                                 Saved and Serving Him,    Derick T
Derick successfully completed his one-year commitment to the
Freedom House program on October 24, 2008
becoming Graduate #9.
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