Pastor Dustin Kelley
Most testimonies generally begin at the moment they encountered Jesus, and so for me I guess that would go back to my early childhood. In my earliest memories, my home was not always a wholesome environment. While I only have a few memories from the time my parents were still married,none can be remembered with any fondness. My mother and father divorced during my toddler years, due to their addictions, and extremely toxic relationship, and thus began an experience well known by half of America’s families. Now, I know Jesus had touched my life at a young age, and has been with me for many years. At the same time it would have seemed unlikely to others looking in from the outside. I was an extremely angry, twisted, and violent young man at home but with other people, friends, and their families, I seemed to be a well adjusted sweet kid. I knew what to say and how to say it. Inside though, I was always ready to snap, and I usually would on my younger brother and those dumb enough to pick on me.
But since my father was a “Christian,” we went to church and hid our brokenness behind its doors. Now don’t get me wrong, there were many good times; in fact my father, as a functioning alcoholic, did a pretty decent job with my brother and I. He coached all of our baseball teams, he took us hiking, he prayed nightly with us, cut our fingernails and really did his best as a single father. But he was an alcoholic and could be quite abusive. But as the years went on I did develop a love for God, much of which was imparted by my father, and still, a great deal was due to my aunt, who was kind of an outsider of the family. She had to watch my brother and me a lot growing up and never neglected to give God the glory while babysitting us. I am grateful for the childhood I had in retrospect, but I would not wish to revisit most of it. All in all,the bimonthly trips to church, my God fearing aunt, and my father’s humdrum faith, left me wanting more and eventually it did grow into something more.
During middle school and my freshmen year, I started to gain some popularity. I was playing football and was really coming to a fuller understanding of who,and what Jesus Christ was to me. That seems to be the time when the devil comes at you with all he has. Not too long into my freshmen year, my faith became very weak and my desire was no longer to please God but to please my friends. So what began as people pleasing, slowly turned into an addiction and began to not only dominate my free time but also my freewill. During these years, I became more confident, and had lots of new friends but I also became extremely violent! I wasn’t all that angry anymore, but I just had a need to prove myself every chance I got. I would literally go steal beer by the cases every weekend just so I could bribe big guys at parties to fight me. Yeah, I had some issues! From that point on, I became the tough guy of my group and was fighting people everywhere I went. Many find during the mountain experiences of life, there are valleys as well, and I was in one of these.
I was well enough on the outside, but inward I was self-destructing. Falling into horrible dark depressions, and worse, I found a new outlet; speed! Not like the kind you experience when doing a hundred and something in a corvette, but the kind that was made in the bathroom of some guy who hasn’t slept in a month, with chemicals found at your local hardware store. After being introduced to the drug a few times I developed quite a fondness for the high it gave me. I didn’t necessarily want to become a speed addict but what else can happen when your only care is, “I need to get high.” I will tell you… You find the cheaper, less illegal, pharmaceutical version of the drug which saves you from the humiliation of being called an addict. I found A.D.D. medication, which was quite similar and usually free. Because of parents with more money than time, you will find a large group of kids with this “disorder”, willing to give there meds away,(Usually because they don’t like the high it gives them). It is funny how Satan will aid you in anyway possible to further your destruction, the same way the Lord will help you when you submit to Him. By this time, I was kicked out of regular high school and selling pills at my new school.
My father had now moved us into a house next door to my cousin, but little did we know that my older cousin would soon get out of prison and begin right where he left off, manufacturing speed.That is just what I needed, at this point in my life, a speed cook next door. This guy was no good for his younger brother, my brother or me. We went from bad to worse. I was so far from God here, that I wasn’t sure if I could ever be where I once was. The three of us all began selling speed, chopping up cars on the weekend and developing a host of many other illegal habits that were just as bad. But life is always advancing with the inevitability of change and I still had the Lord who was watching over me. With His help and my families many prayers, I was able to avoid jail and the obituaries, but still had many trials ahead of me.
Tension between me and my father had grown to a climactic point now. We took simple arguments and turned them into fist fights. On one particular evening he threatened to put me in a home because I was becoming out of control(he was probably right). I answered his betrayal of fatherly love, with a right hook that shattered his Jaw in multiple places. Still to this day it causes him numbness in his lower lip. My anger was always aroused by my father, more than any other, and when he said that he would put me in a home, all of the deep dark bitterness and resentment that had been festering in my soul found a single outlet from where it could escape. This is not an excuse to punch your father but it did free me up inside to some degree to finally explain to my dad what I had been feeling for so many years. I began a healing process then, which has now greatly benefited the relationship between me and my father.My time spent at home then became less and less frequent, but I was somehow able to keep up on my studies at school and my womanizing.
Not too long after this I met my wife Stephanie. The road we started down the day we met eventually would lead me back to Christ. We met just before I graduated on what was to be my last day of school. For her, it was to be her first day, as she had to leave her school mid- year due to sickness, and began attending my continuation school to catch up. Truly the providence of God is supreme! It is so beautiful when we are able to recognize this, and single out moments for remembering the work he has begun and will be faithful to complete. Never forget how God works! It is seamless, without any notice at all, without warping our will, He moves us and guides our lives with the gentlest touch. The seemingly innocent chance meeting of my wife and I was most likely the work of the devil, hoping he could destroy two families with one kid. But seeing what was meant for evil, God would eventually make it into something good and perfect.
I was the perfect catalyst for the toxic formula of Stephanie’s life. Her family situation seemed much better than mine, but in all actuality it was probably just as unhealthy.Her father was reclusive yet loving, had a good job but wasn’t home except on weekends. Her mother was more like her best friend who encouraged her to enjoy life while she was young and not worry about the consequences. Needless to say, I quickly learned how to use her family’s situation to my advantage. By the time of our year anniversary of dating, Stephanie and I were full blown meth addicts with no jobs, living together hopelessly in lust without a care in the world. This blissful, worry free life would soon come face to face with reality as the euphoria wore off and the addiction grew stronger.
Stephanie and I were circling the drain of destruction in a year or two of our relationship. I was having psychotic episodes regularly, accompanied by hallucinations brought on by weeks without sleep, due to drugs. Stephanie had practically stopped eating except to survive. And we both had developed an insatiable appetite for meth and were starting to get lost in the druggy lifestyle. One of the problems with becoming addicted to drugs, is becoming addicted to the life that accompanies it. You no longer talk to normal people, do normal things, and in all reality, you are no longer normal. There is no one on drugs or selling drugs that will tell you to stop. There are no Christians in the places you go who will speak truth to you. It becomes a perpetual whole that sucks you in, until the darkness that it is, is all you know. Stephanie and I were getting very close to this point when Gods’ hand came out of nowhere and threw us a curve ball. The funny thing about curve balls is they sometimes look like they are going to hit you, and just before they do they fall right into the home run zone.
Our relationship had become a continuous battle and I was done fighting. I felt it was time to get off drugs and I thought if I got rid of Steph then it would be possible. So I broke up with her by throwing her out of my truck drunk, pouring beer all over her, kicking dirt in her face and then finally calling her parents to come get her. (I thought no one will come back after that) We hadn’t spoken in two weeks, when a friend came over and told me she was pregnant. I laughed. I told him, “She’s just saying that because I won’t answer her phone calls, and she wants to see me.” But to be on the safe side, I went and saw her. Sure enough, when I got there, I saw the two little lines on the stick and knew it was true.
Stephanie was hard set on keeping the baby and I was all for an abortion. Being exceedingly selfish I persuaded her to get an abortion. Everyone we knew was for it except her father and he was so far removed from her life at that point his opinion didn’t really matter. My father on the other hand was waiting the next day at the clinic with cash in hand to have the procedure done. In his eyes this was our only option. How could two drug addicts with no jobs and no future raise a child? So the morning came when we were to go to Planned Parenthood. My father was sitting at the office when I got cold feet and the Holy Spirit hit me like a ton of bricks and said you can’t kill this baby. I knew the odds were against us and so were our families, but somehow hope crept into my heart that morning and I knew it was going to be alright. However hopeless things seem though, if God has chosen you, his purpose will be manifested in your life. All you need to do is let go of the things you hold so tightly too, so you can grab hold of what God is trying to give you.
The hand of God moved that day but no one noticed it. Stephanie and I made a choice that day which forever changed our lives. The life without a name was given a chance. The relationship without hope became a light. The individuals with no purpose became examples. And the God who was forgotten was remembered and praised.
That life, became my daughter Trinity Ann Kelley on March 6th 2007. That relationship was made a marriage on January 25th that same year. And those two strung out speed addicts began ministering just a couple of years later. When people ask, “How did you come to Christ?” I tell them,“I didn’t,He came to me.” He showed up simply as a glimmer of hope during the darkest time of my life. He knocked on my heart and when I opened the door I knew he was real. Logically thinking there was no chance me or my wife could get off drugs without entering a program, but we did. There was no chance a recovering addict could get a job, but somehow I got a good one. It wasn’t likely that true love would blossom from a teenage druggy romance but it has. And I know without a shadow of a doubt it wouldn’t have been possible without God.
I was not supernaturally endowed with any great power to turn my life around. I simply turned from the direction I was going and began following the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Word, the Bible. I began to believe what I grew up knowing to be true. Those simple seeds of faith sown by my father, my aunt, and my church had finally sprouted during the storm of my life. I was searching for something for a long time. I didn’t know what it was, and I never found it. But one day I gave up looking, and it found me. It was peace. Peace can’t be found if peace is what you’re searching for. Peace is produced from within, when you live according to Gods’ Word. And now that I have it, I want to share it with everyone.
If you have been trying to fill the emptiness in your life by listening to music, taking drugs, or sleeping with others, you will stay empty. If you are willing to give up your life for Christ’s sake you will find it! If you seek first, the kingdom of God, He will give to you….. all that you are looking for. The bible says in John 14:6, Jesus speaking: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” So come to Him today and ask Him to enter your heart. Ask Him to show you the way to walk now, and then do it. If you do this, you will have a more abundant life now and eternal life in the future. May the Lord show Himself to you and bless you my friend.
The testimony of Jesus Christ working in the life of Dustin R. Kelley.