Editor Jul 24 : 00:21
I have been a disciple for over 13 years.
I have been a disciple for over 13 years. My baptism date was November 15, 1991, when I was 21 Years old. I was in college as a student-athlete, attending a university here in Chicago, when someone reached out to me and it was just at the right time.
My chemical addiction started when I was in my early teens. My family had moved to the United States a few years earlier (when I was 10) from Portugal, as my father sought for political asylum for his family who had left Angola, Africa because of Civil War. I began to drink alcohol because of all the insecurities that I had faced as a young teenager trying to fit in a new culture with a new language.
Once I began to see that there was a social acceptance and even admiration in some circles for drinking a lot alcohol, I began to pursue this avenue further. I not only started hanging out with the drinking crowd in high school, but began to enjoy the atmosphere.
I ignored all the negative signs that accompanied my drinking, lying to my parents, hangovers, fights, DUI's (Driving under influence) and even getting arrested for public intoxication. I managed to maintain my decent grades and maintain a double life of going to church and convincing the people around me that it was just a phase. But this phase got worst when I went to College in 1988.
I was fortunate to get a athletic scholarship to School, but it was not long before my lack of self-control in drinking and my reckless behavior caught up to me. I was soon on academic probation, and was ineligible to play my junior Year. This led me into a depression and I started to increase my frequency of drinking. It was in the fall of 1991 that someone reached out to me, at a time when I had given up on Chicago, and wanted to move back home to start all over. The amazing thing is that God reached out for me to go to Church service. I went, studied and became a disciple in four days.
I was convicted about my sin but unfortunately I had not dealt with the extensive problem, emotionally and physical, of the drinking alcohol. The first year I was successful not drinking but I remember the second year struggling every 3 to 4 months with wanting to get drunk and giving in a couple times. God was there and helped me through it, but I believe since I had not been exposed to some of the solutions presented in the Chemical Recovery Ministry, it would only be a matter of time before the struggle would return.
Nine years later, in the year 2000, I was going through a very difficult time spiritually, I had been in and out of the ministry, I moved several time to several ministries, I had been involved in a few dating relationships that did not work out and I went into, what I believe, was a depressive state. As a leader I was closed with my feelings and struggles, and it wasn't very long before I returned to drinking as a comfort.
At first it was social and controlled, but then I remember having my first binge in October 2000 and then having subsequent times of bingeing every 4 to 5 months. A binge is when one drinks heavily, not socially, for the sole purpose of being intoxicated. My last binge, which was in November 2001, was the one that showed me that I need help to stop my drinking. I had gotten into a car accident, I had lost money, possessions, and I was beginning to isolate myself emotionally. I was introduced to a brother in the church who was known to be an overcomer of substance abuse, around Jan 2002. He became my mentor and we did several biblical studies on alcohol recovery. Unfortunately at the time we did not have a formal Chemical Recovery ministry, so around June 2002 we asked a brother from New York, who was a Chemical Recovery leader, to come and teach us how to start a CR Ministry in Chicago.
We officially began the Chemical Recovery Group here in Chicago in July 2002. I was fortunate to be one of the first graduates in November 2002. I have now been sober for 3 years and 4 Months and have been participating as a group leader for one of three Chemical Recovery groups here in Chicago. Not only that, God has allowed me to marry my best friend whom I dated and worked with in the mission field about 7 years ago in Africa, and we just had our first child 2 months ago, our beautiful and precious girl. My wife and I are grateful for the CR Ministry in Chicago as we have seen over 30 graduates within the period of 3 Years and to God be the Glory!