From torment to unimaginable hope
30 August 2017
Less than a year ago, Jayden, 23, was hiding, in an ice-induced psychosis, terrified for his life from an imaginary foe. Months before that, he was terrified for his life from a very real foe, drug dealers he owed money to and had no way of paying back. After a short, but intense period of addiction, Jayden prayed his first prayer and his life changed dramatically. He shares his story.
I dropped out of school in Grade 9. I was being bullied and I wanted to get out. Someone offered me a chef’s apprenticeship, so I took that.
I was 20 when I started using drugs. I’d never touched drugs before, but a relationship I’d been in broke up, and someone close to me introduced me to “ice”.
My mum and dad divorced when I was young. I grew up with quite a lot of pain in my life and felt a lot of things were dumped on me. I never learned to deal with a lot of the stuff from my childhood, so when this relationship I was in broke up, I really didn’t know how to deal with it.
When I used ice, it took away the pain. Initially, I loved it. I am a bit iof a people-pleaser, so when I became a dealer, all of a sudden people relied on me. I had something people wanted, but when I bought more, I also used more. And of course later, when the drugs ran out, so did all those “friends”.
I was addicted to ice for only two years. But it was intense. Before I knew it, I hit rock bottom. I even threatened to kill people. Basically I hated the person I’d become.
Then I was suddenly in debt and I was scared. People were chasing me. I had never been that fearful in my life. I felt like if I didn’t get them the money I was going to get killed. I called my dad to get me the money and he gave me the money, but the condition was rehab.
The first time I went to Moonyah [The Salvation Army Recovery Services Centre in Brisbane] I was just being an immature kid at rehab. I wanted people to like me. I was stealing out of the kitchen. I threatened to kill somebody on the program … I was just being really inappropriate. So they asked me to leave.
I went to stay with someone close who I knew had drugs. It had taken me one year to become psychologically unstable before I went to rehab. This time it took only two weeks. The psychosis was horrible. I was hiding in this public toilet thinking people were chasing me. I was just scared for my life again, but there was no real threat. It was all in my head, but I just couldn’t escape it.
It was at this point of desperation that I cried out for help. I have some vague recollection of going to Sunday school somewhere, sometime, as a kid, but I had no faith.
But I was desperate, so I prayed my first prayer – the first prayer in my life.
A lot of really amazing – seemingly supernatural – things happened in my life after that, and it is only now that I can look back and see God was in the circumstances.
I knew I had to return to rehab – but I didn’t book because I knew they had no room, and I had no money.
But I kept praying. My prayer was if that was where I was meant to be I’d get a place. God answered. My stepfather supported me this time and I got a place back in rehab.
It was a struggle at first. I was still getting in trouble – swearing and about to get kicked out – but I kept praying, even though I didn’t have an understanding of who God was. And later I found out that my grandma was also praying for me. Thank God for praying grandmas!
The turning point came one night as I was lying in my bed praying. I looked up, out my window, and it got super bright. There was this white light that kept coming towards me and it touched my face, almost brushed me on the side of the cheek and then it was gone. I suddenly felt safe and secure for the first time.
This experience gave me a determination and confidence that I’ve never had before and I completed the program. I did every extra course the rehab offered; I made a great friend in there, I was invited to spiritual camps and conventions. Saturday I’d spend with family, but Sundays were set – morning church, then night church.
More amazing things started to happen. I’ve always had dyslexia, but all of a sudden I was able to read the Bible, and took it all into my heart.
It seems God was truly guiding me every step of the way – I just felt that warm in my heart and every time I had doubt or anything like that, the facilitators of the Alpha Course I enrolled in were able to give me an answer.
While I was in rehab I heard somebody talk about starting cooking classes and I put an application in to the manager and said, “I’m a trained chef and I’d be happy to teach people to cook”. I ran a course and then later applied to become a full-time chef at Moonyah.
To me it is heaps more than a job. Because I’ve come straight off program, what I’ve found is a lot of participants come up and talk openly and the office I share with the other chef seems to have become a prayer room. We pray in there all the time.
I am so blessed to have a testimony that I was set free so young and that I only had the pain of using for two years. God has also brought a beautiful Christian girl into my life and we are planning a life together.
I know I’m still young, but I’ve experienced a lot in my life already and the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that God is the God who transforms lives!
As told to Naomi Singlehurst