Isaac R    Gresham, OR
Hi my name is Isaac and I’m nineteen years old. My family life was uneasy as we moved around a lot so I never was able to let my roots grow.  I always seemed to have a lot of friends but never really close friends.  I was involved with the church throughout my childhood and I would even do what I could to bring my friends with me when I attended.  But even though I was in church, I don’t think that I was a real, committed Christian. The definition of a Christian is someone who is a follower of Jesus Christ and who tries to live Christ like.  I sure wasn’t at all Christ like. I would party throughout the week and then act religious when I was at church.
Before I was born, my mom divorced my biological dad and later married my step-dad.  At twelve, my whole life was flipped up side down. There was huge stress at home as my mom and step dad were fighting a lot.  Their fighting never led to physical violence but there was so much screaming and verbal abuse.  In time, they divorced which was very hard for everyone but probably for the best. With such turmoil in our home, I was becoming rather distracted when at school.  This distraction also had something to do with the fact that I was now smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol.  I started to skip classes and hang out with girls.  Now these girls only wanted to be around me because I was connected to druggies and for me, drugs and alcohol were easy to get.  I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. I felt really independent, thinking that the whole world was mine for the taking.  I believed that nothing could ever go wrong because I was untouchable. I would soon find out how wrong I was.  What happened next would change who I thought I was... into what I am.
Roaming the neighborhood alone late one night, as I was cutting through a very dark wooded place, suddenly I was attacked and so brutally raped.  I tried to fight back but there was nothing I could do.  I felt helpless and hopeless. Afterward I went home but it was hours before I could bring myself to even go inside.  I didn’t know who to tell or how to even tell them.  I didn’t know what to do so I chose not to tell anyone at first because I felt ashamed and dirty.  Over the next year I started acting out in really strange ways, being so emotionally and mentally unstable after this event and my thought life was becoming warped.  When I finally got the courage up to tell my family (a year later), they did not know how to react or respond.  My mom put me into counseling but it didn’t help.  I couldn’t cope because I didn’t really understand.  I was unable to deal with the constant nagging pain and turmoil inside, so I turned to Crystal Meth and other hard drugs to help suppress my emotions. The drug use readily turned into addiction... and that caused far more pain and complications in all areas of my life.
At thirteen, I started skipping whole days of school, getting high with my friends. Soon, I just dropped out altogether.  My dad then made me get a job but that didn’t help.  For me, work actually made things worse because then I had more money to spend on my drugs.  I ended up getting so messed up that I lost my job.  I was staying in weird places; situations that would make most people physically sick.  I was sleeping in cars, living alone outside, even by the river for 3 months straight.  I was so broke it was a joke and I ended up having to steal to get high.  I started off stealing small things but as my habit continued to grow... so did the size and importance of the things that I had to steal.  I got into “jockey boxing”, which is breaking into cars and stealing the stereo and other small things.  Eventually, I graduated to stealing the whole car.  I was arrested more than once for stealing cars but that didn’t stop me, I didn’t stop… I couldn’t stop.
During my second time in jail I met this guy that was always talking about Jesus Christ.  On more than one occasion I can recall him trying to share the Word with me but I didn’t want to hear it.  I was really mad at God and blamed Him for all my problems (because I wasn’t about to accept responsibility for messing myself up so badly).  My third time in jail I had an unexpected visitor... the chaplain had come to see me because I hadn’t had any visitors.  He asked me to come and share with him what was going on in my life.  He told me how he also had struggled with many of the same issues.  I asked him what it was that he had used to get him through the challenges in life and he told me that although it was hard for him at times, “He could do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).  He asked if he could pray with me and although I was hesitant, I said yes.  As we prayed, I seriously asked the Lord to forgive me of all my sins and to come into my heart and life.  I began to realize that I had to start making some real changes inside.
The first step to getting my life back on track would be to stand and face all my legal issues.  I had all the best intentions of truly following through... but some how I missed a court date and wound up with a warrant.  I made a plan to turn myself in; however, I also  continued to get drunk so before I could turn myself in... I was taken to jail.  Even as I was being arrested for my warrant, the police were actually getting the call about me being drunk and disorderly.  It seemed as though every complication possible was raining down on me.  I sat in jail for 45 days before my girlfriend, Michelle and my father decided that they were going to post my bail and get me out. When I was released, I went to live with Michelle.  We’d made plans to get married but family attitudes undermined all that and we painfully broke up.
My court date came up and an embittered Michelle also showed up.  She lashed out, revoking my bail and I remained locked up.  Wow did I feel betrayed!  Facing two years in prison, my mom stepped in to help, enlisting some Christian friends, the Massey’s, who paid my bail and took me in to their own home while they looked for a program that could help me.  I saw what I believe was a real glimpse of the love of God working through people and that touched me deeply.  I actually broke down and cried openly, right in front of the whole courtroom.  Their love and faith helped change my life.  My mom and the Massey’s helped get me into Freedom House, avoiding prison.
The first few weeks here were a real eye opener.  I came here reluctant and a bit apprehensive but I have to admit that in short order I was actually surprised at how I was accepted.  I began to really enjoy studying God’s Word.  The Holy Spirit has been teaching me particularly in how to deal with some areas that I struggle with.  At Freedom House I have the opportunity to look deep within through the Word and see principles that help me to change and grow in character.  As an example - I really struggle with control issues, mostly self-control and being “in control”, as a result, I’ve a hard time taming my tongue and appropriately expressing my anger.  Now I understand that there will be times I’ll get angry and that’s all right, yet Ephesians 4:26-27 says “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”  I’ve begun to deal with my issues in a more biblical way, using Godly principles as my guide.  
Since being here, I have learned to be more understanding and accepting of other people.  I’m overcoming many insecurities of my past and I’m much happier with who I am.  I was self conscious about praying in front of others because I was worried about what they’d think.  Now I see how stupid that was because I was never talking to them anyway, I was talking to God.  I want to continue developing this personal and intimate relationship with the Lord and work on becoming closer to the people He has put in my life.  I need to say a special thanks to the friends of this ministry, those who provide the way and means for Freedom House to be here and stay open and available to guys like me.  I could be locked up, beat down and broken inside but your care and financial support have given me a far better opportunity to become the man God has always had in mind for me.  Thank you so very much for caring.  My family and I are closer now than we’ve ever been and I have a life ahead that is blessed and filled with His favor.     To God be the Glory!       
                                                                                                                     Walking in His freedom,  Isaac R
Isaac successfully completed his one-year commitment to the
 Freedom House Ministries Program
on January 23, 2009 becoming Graduate #12.


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