From Cocaine to Christ. David W. Farmer.
The tragic events of my childhood removed any reason for me to ever seek Christ or His Church. Whenever I thought about Church, God or Jesus, confusion and anger filled my heart. I grew up in what I thought was a “normal” home. My Mom was a loving parent, devoted to her church and family. On Sunday she made sure my brothers and I were all in Church for morning and evening services and Sunday school. Everything seemed to be OK until November 1971 when my Mom had to go to the hospital for tests. The results revealed an inoperative brain tumor, and that cancer was spreading throughout her system. There was no way to stop it. I remember when she came home, her head shaved and bandaged. She was so pale and weak it seemed all life had been sucked out of her. She had come home to die. I did not understand why God let this happen and why her faith in Him seemed to grow stronger as her illness progressed and the pain increased. She was too ill to go to church, so she listened to services over the telephone. She never complained about pain or the certain death she was facing. On a cold dark day, February 9, 1972, she died. Her final prayer was for the Lord to watch over her children. This proved to be the first of many tragedies I suffered as a child, and what happened to my Mom changed my life forever. Her final resting place was the place of her birth, Princeton, West Virginia. During the ride from Chicago to Princeton I tried to figure out what had happened. I was too young to understand what death really meant, but it would become all too clear at her funeral. My brother said she had “gone away.” I asked him where she had gone and when was she coming back? He told me she would never come back. I wanted to be with her so much that I tried to climb in her coffin so I could go where she was going. In the days and years that followed I would look back and think if there was a God how could he do this to me? You see, there was another side of life during that time I have not yet shared with you. My Father was the exact opposite of my mother. He was an alcoholic and most of the time he came home looking for a fight, and even when my Mother lay sick and dying, he continued to spend much of his time in the bars. I remember well the loud, unruly arguments, and abuse he rained on my mother. I blamed myself for not stopping him. His attacks always started with my brothers or me, and Mom, sick as she was, would always try to defend us at great cost to her as her strength diminished and the pain increased. We returned to Carpentersville, Ill, a small town outside of Chicago after the funeral. Back home, I continued Mom’s Sunday morning church services for a while. It was a good way for my Father to get rid of me. The people there were kind and seemed to care about me. But after a few months something happened there to change my heart and mind about Church. Instead of a safe haven it became a dark and horrible place for a frightened, lonely, 9-year-old boy. Because one of the most respected men in the Church, a deacon, Church groundkeeper, and a man I trusted, molested me in the basement. I was ashamed, scared and confused. “If you tell anyone,” he said, “I will say you are lying and who do you think they will believe? You, or me?” As a result of this betrayal I became a violent young boy, bitter, angry and afraid. I asked myself over and over where was this God that my Mother trusted so much? If He loved her like she believed He did then why did she die such an awful death? And me – why didn’t He defend me in His own house? I decided that if He was “out there” I wanted absolutely nothing to do with Him! I felt unloved. I was scared and hurting and I began to search for a way to make the pain go away. Meanwhile, women moved in and out of our home at my Father’s whim. Many were prostitutes. On July 4th 1972, he married one of them and we moved to California. After numerous “homes,” and several elementary schools, he finally settled down in a place called Merced. Here things were better for a while and I began to actually enjoy my life. I played sports in school and found this was something I was good at. My teachers and fellow students complimented me on my ability and my self esteem improved. I became one of the best athletes in the area and wanted my Father to come see me play just one game, to be proud of me, but he never, ever, came see me play, or even noticed I was alive. This relatively peaceful time in my life lasted for only a year or two. Then, just when I had found a place to fit in, just when life seemed to be “normal” again and I was enjoying some resemblance of happiness, my Father delivered yet another blow. During this time he and my Stepmother were drunk most of the time. The result was dreadful abuse of each other that spilled over onto my brothers and me. One terrible foggy night, in the middle of summer, everything came to an end. My Stepmother, drunk and out of control, chased all of us out of the house and down the road with a carving knife. With his failed marriage and horrible drinking pattern he decided to move back to Chicago. There the bitterness I felt, together with my violent behavior, would prove to be a bad combination. I attended a large high school where gangs were common but I did not want anything to do with that type of lifestyle. One morning in the classroom I accidentally bumped into a Spanish student. As I turned to apologize he punched me in the face. I hit the chalkboard and the whole class erupted in laughter. I jumped on top of him and punched him repeatedly. The teacher tried to stop me but had to call school security to pull me off. Hands covered with blood and handcuffed behind my back I was taken to the Principles office. I was suspended from school 5 days. When I returned I discovered I was a popular “dude.” Everyone was talking about me. One student, who introduced himself to me as “Rat,” congratulated me for beating up the Spanish guy. He explained to me that this Spanish kid was the leader of the “Latin Kings,” one of the largest gangs in the area. This meant nothing to me. A few days later I discovered the Latin Kings were spreading rumors of a planned retaliation. Rat came to my rescue. He introduced me to several of his friends and explained that they “had my back.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but I thanked him anyway. Then one day when I was walking home from school a bunch of guys jumped out of a car. Armed with baseball bats, they chased me home. I called Rat and told him what happened. He came over with his friends and they explained that I was “marked” and should never walk anywhere alone. He invited me to a party where they all hung out and I accepted his invitation. There I met his gang, the “Simon City Royals.” They were all wearing the same color pants and shirts – their “Id.” They asked me to join but said that in order to become a member I would have to go thru initiation by fighting all of them at one time. I agreed and for twenty minutes we exchanged blows and kicks. I received my gang sweater along with a bloody lip and nose, and fought so well I soon became the “Vice President” of the gang. As a Simon City Royal in good standing, I was introduced to my first drug, marijuana. I was already getting drunk with my cousin and his friends, but drugs offered a new release. I smoked more marijuana than most people smoke cigarettes, but the pain of the horrible abuse that I suffered at the hands of my Father and the confusion over what happened in my Mothers church did not go away. I experimented with any drug I could find. Acid, Barbiturates, PCP, Crystal Meth, you name it, and finally I found my drug of choice, Cocaine. It was easy to use and I soon developed a huge habit that needed be supported. I tried work at different places but none of them paid enough. I found crime was the easy way to make money fast. I would steal anything from anyone. I gained a reputation as someone to stay away from. Before long I was picked up by the police on a regular basis and hauled off to jail. My grandmother, who I was livng with at the time, was unable to handle me and courts threatened me with long jail terms. Something had to be done, so the family decided for me to ship me out to a suburb of Chicago to live my Father again. I did not want to leave my friends or my gang. I had even less desire to live with my Father again. But I had not choice, so with a bad attitude and a severe cocaine addiction I moved to Rolling Meadows, ILL. Dad’s drinking had progressed from bad to worse and we fought constantly. I could not stand living there so I ran away, back to Chicago. I bunked with a friend until I got in trouble one time too many and found myself back on the street. I burned so many bridges with my family they no longer trusted or wanted me in their homes. So I became a “street” person, sleeping in hallways and on top of garage roofs. I was in trouble with the law again, It wasn’t long after my return to Chicago, that I moved to California with a friend. I had once again developed a large Cocaine addiction. With no income available to support it I turned to crime. One day I was arrested on 3 Felony charges and held with no bond in the Vista county jail outside San Diego. In jail I found that my old enemies “Latin Kings” surrounded me and ran the cellblock. One day a riot broke out between Hispanics and African Americans. I was assigned cleanup duty that day and had a large industrial mop in my hand. Both sides fighting demanded that I give them the mop. I decided to stay neutral and not give either gang the mop-weapon. Another inmate with me had a broom, and decided to do the same. The guard’s finally came in and broke up the fight. They moved all the African Americans to different cellblocks separate from us and the Hispanics. We now had over 175 Hispanics in with only 5 white inmates. The Latin Kings threatened me and the other inmate who had not given them the broom. That night I heard a loud scream from back of the unit. It became muffled and sounded like someone was trying to yell. I figured someone was being beaten and was gagged to prevent them from crying out. The sound of pounding fists could still be heard however and continued on. I tried to cover my head with my hands to drown out the sound but couldn’t. It seemed to go on for hours and then finally faded and stopped. I saw someone drag a body to the front of the unit. I walked over and recognized the inmate with the broom. I looked at him and saw blood coming from his mouth and nose. He was shaking with convulsions. I called the guards and shook the gate until they came and took him to the infirmary. To this day I do not know what happened to him after they took him out. The guards turned on all the lights demanded to know who was responsible. Not one person spoke up. The next morning at breakfast one of the gang leaders came by and told me that come the night I was going out just like my friend. I was scared senseless, sure I was to die a violent death in Jail. My public defender had already told me I was facing a very long sentence 18-25 years, and now this! I decided the only way to stay alive was to stay in front of the gates where I was visible to the surveillance camera all the time. At around 10:30 a trustee came by with a book cart. “You look like you need some help,” he said. “And I got exactly what you need.” “What?” I asked, “a get out of jail free card?” “No, I got something better” he said, and handed me a Gideon Bible. I looked at that Bible and threw it across the room. He said, “Every thing you need is in that book.” I walked back and forth in front of those cameras for 2 hours and I could not stop thinking about that Bible laying 15 feet away. I finally picked it up and raised it to God and said, “If you are real and you care about me, get me out of here! If you do I will do anything you want.” That very afternoon God got my attention. The guards came and took me out of main stream population and put me in a private cell working as a kitchen trustee. I was convinced there was something to this God thing, I wasn’t sure what, but my search had begun. Whenever I wasn’t cooking, I was reading that Bible, but I didn’t understand it. What on earth did it mean? There were so many strange names and incredible stories. I read that Bible from the front to the back and couldn’t find what had compelled my Mother to read her Bible so much or where her faith had come from. When it was time for me to go before the judge for sentencing, my attorney advised me to plead guilty and try to look remorseful. That day the judge told me he had the power to put me away for 25 years, and that he knew of no reason to be lenient with me. He reviewed my case and for reasons he couldn’t figure out; he told me he was suspending my sentence and giving me 5 years probation. That if I got in trouble one more time I would serve the remaining 25 years of my sentence. To my shock and amazement I was released at 5:00 AM with little money, and no place to go. All I had was the Bible and about $7.00 in my pocket. I telephoned a number given to me for Released Inmates Assistance. They provided me with a place to sleep and a job cleaning stables on a horse farm. There I earned enough money to take a bus back to Chicago. My older brother said I could live with him as long as I stayed out of trouble. Back in jail I made a deal with God and I had every intention of keeping it. My search for the truth of my Mom’s faith continued during the hours I read my Bible. I did well for a couple of months, no drugs or alcohol. Then one day an old friend called and asked me to go out and have a couple of beers. I refused and explained I had given up drinking. He said, one beer won’t kill you, so I agreed to one beer. I ended up drunk, using cocaine in the restroom. For the next 10 years I had a $300.00 per day habit. I met a guy who was a major supplier and began to deal. I moved major amounts of cocaine, while working as a vacuum cleaner salesman. There was as much money as I wanted and all the cocaine I could possibly use. I went from eating out of trash cans to walking around with $5000.00 dollars in my pocket most of the time. But, there was no peace in my life, and the pain and horror of my past still haunted me. I stayed bombed out on cocaine or alcohol to get rid of the torment of the past. I became a distributor for the company of the vacuum cleaners, and the drugs were flowing. The business became a front and a way to “clean” the money. During this time I met a girl named Tammy and we began to date. She did not know about my cocaine habit. She thought I was a good businessman making a lot money selling vacuum cleaners. But good as I thought things were, something was happening to me and I could not figure out what it was. I thought I was loosing my mind. I became desperate to find the answers about Jesus. Who was He? Why did my Mom stay so attached to her faith even when she was dying? I thought movies about the life of Christ would provide the answer so I rented “The Life of Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, The Robe,” even “Ben Hur,” and “Spartacus”. I watched these movies with tears running down my face, drinking alcohol and using drugs. I just could not find the answers to what I was so desperately searching for. The Federal DEA was getting close to busting my partner and I, so I took ( My girlfriend) Tammy to visit her sister for awhile. When we came back, the people I was getting my supply of cocaine from had left messages threatening my life. Then my (girlfriend) Tammy told me she was pregnant. I decided I had to get out of town. There was another vacuum distributor in a place called Lilburn, Georgia. He asked me if I wanted to come down help train salesmen. I called and asked if he still wanted me. He said yes, and I left for Lilburn the next morning. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about the Tammy situation, but the baby created a bond that held. I was making great money working in Lilburn and asked Tammy to move to Georgia after the baby was born. They moved down in 1993 and we moved into a condo together. Once we were settled we looked for a childcare provider for our daughter Kayla. An ad in the newspaper advertised “Christian childcare,” over night and weekends for $20.00. This seemed perfect to us as we could go out and party. We went to meet the childcare lady and almost didn’t go to the door. The front of the house looked like an abandoned auto yard with car parts everywhere. When we knocked on the door a little old lady appeared with missing teeth that seemed very “country.” Tammy immediately showed her displeasure with a quick elbow to my ribs that said “no way!” I walked into the house with her following. The second we walked in I saw Jesus. He was everywhere! His face was in the clock, a calendar featured Him and there pictures hanging on the walls. This was not the place for my daughter! The lady’s name was Gail Waite. In spite of “Jesus” and the junk yard I immediately trusted her and was not sure why. During the time she kept our daughter she always told us that she and her church were praying for us. This meant nothing to us, but we thought it was nice of her anyway. She loved us without asking anything in return and always tried to encourage us. Meanwhile I spiraled further and further out of control with drugs and alcohol, and my relationship with Tammy was coming to an end. She finally got tired of not knowing where I was for days at a time. So I sat down at the kitchen table and wrote out a child support agreement. When I looked at my life I knew the only thing good in it was my daughter Kayla. I could not stop the drinking and drug addiction that was controlling my life. One night I decided to end it all so I would not have to deal with the pain and depression anymore. On that night I sat on my patio and began to drink, my plan was to get drunk, park my car in a friends garage with the engine running and never wake up. Instead I passed out and around 4 am I woke up on the patio in the rain. I went upstairs climbed into bed and went to sleep. Around 7am the phone rang. It was Gail asking for a ride to church. Tammy had promised we would take her. Mad, I woke Tammy demanding to know what was going on. She said Gail had really been good to us and this was something we should do for her. That we should go. So we picked up Gail and took her to church. The minute I walked through the door I knew something was wrong. Those tears started coming again, just like when I had watched those Jesus movies, only now there were strangers everywhere. I went to the rest room to get myself together. When we were just about to sit down I heard Gail tell someone, “This is the couple we have been praying for.” The service started and the choir began to sing “Oh it is Jesus” and tears again began to fall from my eyes. I was crying now, almost out of control. The Preacher told us who Jesus really was and why He came to earth from John, chapter 1. For the first time in my life I heard the truth of why Jesus Christ died on the cross. He died because there was a sin problem. As he talked it seemed as if he was speaking directly to me and me alone. I realized that my problems were not cause by alcohol or drugs, the biggest problem I had was that I needed a Savior and forgiveness for my sins.It was then that I realized my need to repent and that I derserved no mercy from God. I deservd to spend an eternity in hell apart from God. I was up before the invitation was in full swing. With Tammy holding my hand, I headed to the alter. I repented of my sins and surrendered my life to the Lord.I begged for the Lord to forgive me of my sins. I asked Him to take away my addiction and to change my life and give me a new direction. God did not answer my prayer and give me mercy; instead He showed me grace.That day the Jesus my Mother loved became real to me in a life changing way. That day God took away the drugs and alcohol and gave me a new life. On April 9th of 1995 Tammy and I were married with only Gail and my daughter, Kayla watching as we made our vows. Since that time the Lord has called me into the ministry. I currently serve as an President and Evangelist with Crisis Rescue. Tammy and I have been blessed with two more girls, Kelsey and Kerrigan. If you think there is no hope God says, “I am the only hope you need.” The power of the gospel of Jesus Christ has not lost one bit of its life changing power! Sharing this life transforming Good News is the passion of my heart and something I do daily.
Is there something in your life that you are struggling with? There is nothing that the power of the Holy Spirit cannot defeat, destroy or deliver you from.