Here is my testimony, if you know someone who has struggled with addictions this might encourage them. I told the truth, even the ugly parts, to showcase the grace of God. If he can redeem and use someone like me then there is hope for anyone. My life verse is “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn 8:36).
Here is the link: NTR – Cris Putnam Testimony & Interview
My will was the enemy master of, and thence had made a chain for me and bound me. Because of a perverse will was lust made; and lust indulged in became custom; and custom not resisted became necessity. By which links, as it were, joined together (whence I term it a “chain”), did a hard bondage hold me enthralled.
~ Augustine, Confessions 8.10
Like Augustine, I was not a Christian for most of my young adulthood. I was a bright and curious child. Through a sequence of unfortunate life experiences I became very skeptical of the Christian faith. At times, I was hostile to it. I thought it was nonsense and I felt I had good reasons to think so. I had gone to a Methodist church until age four. I have very vague yet fond memories of my father holding me up in a grape vine behind the church. However, things went downhill fast. My parents stopped going to church when my baby brother became ill and lost his hearing. I believe they blamed God. My mother would not stop crying. My father turned to alcohol and my family life became violent and unpredictable. It was the early 1970s and I saw faith healers on television that allegedly healed the deaf. Once at age six or so, I even called their hotline and challenged them to heal my brother’s deafness. Yet God did not heal my brother. I decided it was all staged and that Christianity was a useful fiction that comforted gullible people. My family life grew more unstable as my Father’s alcoholism progressed.
Although I showed promise in math and science, I was attracted to the counterculture of the 1970s and looked up to rock stars. I worked hard at music and had dreams of being a famous rock guitar player. In reality, I pursued the profligate life style harder than the actual music proficiency and I made many bad choices. My teenage years were dominated by rebellion and hedonism. Sin rendered me empty and hopeless. Drugs seemed to be my only source of relief but they never lasted. As I struggled with addiction, I incurred criminal charges for DWI and drug possession. I had a sense of right and wrong that only instilled shame and depression. As an adult, I became hopelessly addicted to drugs. I was in and out of multiple treatment centers and twelve step programs. I had substantial periods (even years) of clean time but I always eventually relapsed. This was an extremely frustrating and humiliating existence. In due course, I just gave up and was using with a suicidal intent. I was at my wits end. Somewhere along the way my Mother had found comfort attending Providence Baptist Church. Not expecting much, I went along just to make her happy and something extraordinary happened. Pastor David Horner was preaching right to me as if he were reading my mind. Rhetorical questions like, “Who are you to tell God that your life is no longer worth living?” pierced to the core of my soul. God began to call me. I realized I needed Jesus but I was not sure what to believe. I went to a life class and later a young seminary student called me to welcome me to the class and asked if I had any questions. I responded that I had a lot of questions and he offered to come by. I was extremely skeptical yet Dennis was very patient and came every Thursday for months to go through the Bible with me. I know today that God sent Dennis to witness to me because he was uniquely qualified to break through my skepticism.
I had a cynical attitude and trusted no one but Dennis was an unusual person. I was expecting to see hypocrisy in his character or an ulterior motive for his visit. I figured I was just a notch on his evangelism stick. I arrogantly thought my brilliant objections might cause him to question his faith. He was very mild mannered and polite having received Christ at around six years of age. I understand now that Dennis was holy. He was truly set apart and I truly have never met anyone like him since, even at church. He was a thirty-two year old virgin who had never been on a date because he had promised the Lord he would wait until he was prepared for ministry to seek a wife. Yet he was not legalistic or judgmental. Dennis woke up at 4:00 AM to pray for a list of people. Even years later, he told me, “I pray for you every day.” I did not have a category for this level of genuineness. As much as I now like apologetics, he did not convince me with words. Ultimately, it was Dennis’ reflection of Christ that led me to Jesus. He did not judge my past or my relapses into drug use. He loved me like I was and eventually my heart broke. I still had a lot of questions and objections but I was willing to set them aside and invite Christ into my life. At that time, I was extremely depressed and sick with liver disease. However, when I asked Jesus to come into my life a sense of comfort came over me that was undeniably supernatural. That happened ten years ago and I will never forget it. The biggest change is that I am a completely different person. I am free from addiction and disease and have found a wonderful Christian wife. I play in the praise band and even teach the life class where I first met Dennis. Today Dennis is a pastor with a wife and three kids and now I am in seminary because I want to defend the truth and help skeptics like my former self answer the hard questions.
I would like to share how something like this can happen to you. First, you likely have never gone down as far as I did. I am not proud of it but in a sense, I believe I am fortunate because when I finally heard the Gospel I did not doubt my sinfulness. I knew I needed a savior and that is the hardest part for many people. I used to think Christians thought they were better than everyone else but I found out that real Christians actually believe they are sinners. The truth is that everyone falls short of God’s standard. It does not matter who you are or what you have accomplished, everyone needs Jesus. The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge that you are sinner. Then you should confess your sin to God and ask for his forgiveness. Thank him for paying the penalty for your sin by dying on the cross. Believe that Jesus is God and proved it when he rose from the dead. Ask him to come into your life and be Lord. His death has paid your debt and there is no condemnation for those in Christ. I hope you will ask him now.