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 of 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!
Then one night, I looked up out of my window and it all got super bright and I saw a white light coming towards me and it gently kissed my face. I know now it was the Holy Spirit. Then, just as suddenly, it was gone and I fell asleep feeling truly safe and secure for the first time in a very long 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