Jerry C — Tillamook, OR
Hello, My name is Jerry.  I was born in a small town of Wheeler and grew up in Nehalem, Oregon.  I was the youngest of five kids.  I would love to hang out in our shop watching my brother, who is eight years older than me, and my dad work on cars, motorcycles and boats.  When I was ten years old I was introduced to Jesus by Pastor Francis Nevan.  I still have the Bible he gave me with the date in it.  I remember that night at the Calvary Church in Manzanita, praying the prayer with him and realizing that even when I’m alone God is with me.  I knew if I were to lie or steal God knew it too, even if nobody else did.

As I got older I still had a strong sense of right and wrong; however, I wanted to decide what was right and what was wrong.  I eventually quit going to the church and made myself believe that things like sex and drugs were not really hurting anybody, so how could these things be wrong?  I had basically made my own translation of the Bible.  I started smoking in fifth grade. I guess I wanted to be like my dad and my big brother.  I would hang around the shop a lot and learn about engines and gear ratios and how to make machines stronger or faster.  By the time I was in high school I had a pretty good understanding of how to build a hot rod and also how to drink and smoke pot.

I always worked because it cost money to keep gas in my car and to party.  There was absolutely no way I was going to graduate high school. I would get A’s in music classes and in shop classes but F’s in every thing else. I refused to do the work. I would take hot rod magazines to class to read.   My friends and I would get stoned before class, during lunch and after class. About halfway through my senior year I decided that I wanted to go to college and take automotive technology, but I would need a diploma to do this so I decided to get my GED.  I was motivated so I took all three tests in one afternoon and received my GED.

About halfway through my first year in college I ran out of money because I spent most of my college grant on pot, hash and my car.  I had to move out of my apartment and in with my uncle.  When I came home from college for the summer I got a job for a small electronics firm in Tillamook called Video Ventures, manufacturing special effects components. I could apply small hand assembly skills with my electrical and mechanical knowledge, making it a perfect fit for me.  It was during this time that I ran into an old friend from grade school named Greg.  We hung out together practically every night for about 2 years.  On my 21st birthday I got promoted to head of quality control for the company.  I made way too much money and I spent most of it on speed in the form of cross tops and other pep pills, which enabled me to stay up for days at a time.  I ended up in the hospital four times from exhaustion or dehydration.  Without medical help I could easily have died during any one of those episodes. 

My long-time girlfriend called me at work one day and told me she was pregnant and she wanted me to tell her right then and there just what I wanted to do.  I told her to get an abortion because I wasn’t ready for adult responsibilities like that and so I just made a snap decision that I will always regret.  This is a decision that would haunt me for the rest of my life, having aborted my only biological child.

One night Greg and I were partying and at about 1:30 a.m. we met another guy we knew and began to race back toward Nehalem.  We made it about 15 miles and the other car I was racing wasn’t anywhere in sight.  I should have slowed down but I didn’t and lost control.  The car bounced off a rock wall, over a bank and ended up below the railroad tracks. Greg was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car and landed in the road.  I couldn’t remember much of the accident for a long time, but I did remember being trapped in the car and was upside down until I unbuckled my seatbelt.  I was afraid of burning up and knew that I had to get out of the car.  As I got free I could hear my friend up on the road yelling and screaming.  I tried to climb up the bank to him but it was way too steep.  I then heard the other car I was racing hit him.  The Police came to my room at the hospital the next day to ask me more questions and inform me that I was charged with manslaughter.  Within a month I had killed my best friend, aborted my only biological child and I felt as if I deserved to be punished.   I wished that it would have been me that was killed in the wreck instead of my friend.  Things were spiraling out of control and I felt so lost and alone.  Between the abortion, the drugs... and now the car wreck I couldn’t blame my girlfriends for leaving me.  Yet, I sure wasn’t done using drugs or drinking, no way. 

I went back to work at Video Ventures where I met another woman.  Before long I was living with her and her two kids.  Her kids started calling me dad. She had a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl who are 29 and 31 today.  We got married and I went on to adopt them later and they still call me dad to this day.  It seemed to me like this was the only reason God saved me out of that car wreck. 

With drugs, politics and pressure applied by some people in Portland, I ended up getting a far lesser sentence for my manslaughter charges.  I was sentenced to probation and spent 20 days in jail on work release every day to go to work.  They allowed me to wait until after the holidays to serve the time so I could spend it with the kids.  It was amazing.  However, we had a debt to pay.  We were directed and connected with a drug dealer in Netarts and we had to pack large amounts of dope and money in and out of town.  The stress level was incredible, especially when our connections ended up facing a shotgun in a robbery.  The result of that robbery ended our business, which got us out of running the drugs.

We stayed away from cocaine for the rest of our seventeen years together, but I ended up using coke after our divorce.  I was still on probation from my car wreck and ended up having to spend a week in jail for an open container, which cost me my job at Video Ventures.  I got a job as a manager of a restaurant lounge for the next two years. It was easy to stay drunk while I was tending bar.  When I finally was off of probation I got my job back at Video Ventures. 

My drinking and drugging over the next few years resulted in four DUII’s, requiring inpatient treatment centers.  I lost several good jobs of which I would excel for a while and then lose because of my love for the bottle.   Drugs and drinking ruined my marriage, as well as other relationships.   Ultimately I was left totally broken, homeless and unable to shake my reputation for drugs and drinking.  I can’t tell you how miserable I had become, living from one person’s couch to another until absolutely no one wanted me around.  I wandered aimlessly and spent every night just trying to survive, often sleeping sitting up in a laundry-mat just to stay warm and dry.  My world had become a hellish nightmare of an existence.  Finally I was arrested for possession of meth... but this time it was different.  For some reason I had an unexplainable feeling of calm about me.  I knew for some reason that this wasn’t a bad thing for me, to be getting arrested.  Something was going to change for the better even though things couldn’t appear to be any worse. It was as if God, whom I very much believed in even in my sin sick condition, was whispering in my ear saying that its going to be ok.

My first night in jail there was a kid in his mid-twenties who gave me a book about being grateful for all things.  I started to read it and a message that reaffirmed that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. On my second day in jail, I pulled the mat off of the steel plate they call a cell bed onto the floor and got on my knees to pray.  I asked God what he wanted me to do.  I earnestly cried out to God, “LORD I’LL DO WHATEVER YOU WANT ME TO DO. JUST LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO. I’LL GO WHERE EVER YOU WANT ME TO GO.”

As I close I want to express my heartfelt thanks to those who have given support so that this ministry had room for me.  Your care made this available when I had nothing.  God knew where He wanted me and He used you to help save my life.  He will bless you all for this. 

                                                                                                               Grateful to be forgiven and free,  Jerry C

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