(L to R- Keith Mitchell, Leanne Mitchell, me, Keith Johnson-my husband :)
In my last blog post I mentioned our good friend Keith Mitchell's testimony that he shared at Warrior's Call which blessed me so much. I have asked him to share his story with us and he sent me this to share with you. God has done so much in this dear brother's life. I am so excited to have the opportunity for him to share this with you in his own words. He is proof that no one has gone too far or is in too deep for the Lord to redeem, transform and restore. It's NEVER too late! There is HOPE in God alone. His love is so much greater than our mistakes and sin. Read and be encouraged and blessed! :)
Have you ever been so addicted to something you get physically sick? Or at just the sight of it makes your stomach churn to the point of losing control of your bowels? The very sight of it and you can actually taste it. Having to have one more hit of it, or else you know what’s coming, the shakes. You know you have to have more of it, but you have run out of money, to the point of stealing from your wife and your parents. Taking your 1 year olds diaper money and formula money and smoking it up in a crack house. I have spent endless hours on my knees looking for a crumb of crack on the carpet in my bedroom, just to return back to my wallet to find an empty wallet. I’ve done the unthinkable, I’ve gone to the pawn shop and pawned off all my guns, my rings, my wife’s rings, golf clubs etc. I have done all these things. And never gave two thoughts about it at the time. I had to have my drugs to keep from getting physically sick.
June 7th 1982 my baby brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. He was my only sibling. Greg and I were very close. As close as any brothers could possibly be without being twins joined together at the hip at birth. We really shared many wonderful hours growing up hunting and fishing together. The love I had for my baby brother was awesome; in his eyes I could do no wrong. He was really good for my already inflated ego. We fought like all brothers do and I could kick his tail but I wasn’t about to let no one else do it. When Greg died, a huge part of me died too.
About 3 or 4 weeks after Greg died I tried cocaine for the first time. I absolutely loved the feeling. It took some of the pain of losing Greg away. And so I stayed medicated all the time. I have never been too afraid anything and so I wasn’t afraid to try harder drugs. I will go ahead and tell you some of the drugs that consumed me: Cocaine, Crack Cocaine, Heroin, Chrystal Meth, Ecstasy, Mescaline, Oxycotyn, Ghb, Wetdaddy, aka (weed dipped in embalming fluid), LSD, and many others. Lots of prescription drugs. It’s really sad to look back on my life and to see all the unproductive years I wasted.
I remember going to a party one night one night where there were tons of people and me and a couple of friends went into the parent’s bathroom and raided their medicine cabinet. They had lots of pain meds and I was already high on LSD and cocaine. Someone said that the cops were there and so we ran. When they Law found me I had become entangled up in a 6 foot bob wired fence hanging upside down. I had apparently been hanging there for a good while. My heart stopped beating on the way to the Hospital. I was in ICU for days. On another occasion I had been up for 3 or 4 days smoking crack locked down in a hotel room. I had a bottle of valium, bottle of wine, and a whole bunch of crack cocaine. I had become extremely paranoid and thought that the drug enforcement officials were coming to arrest me, and so I jumped through a window and ran. I was so scared I ran down a hill looking back to see where they were at. When I turned around I ran face first into a huge oak tree knocking myself out. I hit the tree so hard both shoes came off. My father found them the next day. I ran barefoot down the railroad tracks cutting my feet to pieces. I had to have 72 stitches in my left foot and 74 stitches in my right foot. I also had stitches in my forehead. That night I almost bled to death, once again I awoke to find paddle marks on my chest where they shocked my heart to keep me alive.
And there are many other really sad stories about my drug use. I had my cocaine dealer hand me a Gideon’s Bible one night. I pulled up to his house to pick up an ounce of cocaine. That’s when he pushed the Bible on me. I was really mad at the time. I told him he was the one who should read the Bible because he was dealing dope, he responded, “Brother you’re not going to be around very long you had better read this”. I threw the bible on the back seat and drove away.
Six to eight months later I wound up in New Orleans, Louisiana, divorced from the woman I truly loved, the mother of my 6 year old son whom I adored. I had once again lost everything. I was no stranger to ruined relationships I was married before and even had two beautiful little girls from that marriage years before. And so now after one rehab to another, someone mentioned a place called Teen Challenge, a discipleship ministry. I was going to have to stay at the place in the lower 9th ward for a year- whatever! There was no way I was going to spend a year at this place!
I was coming down off of heroin when I got there. I had been shooting heroin and cocaine for months. I wasn’t actually in the mood to communicate with others. I was mad at the world. I wanted to get high. After a couple of days the executive director of Teen Challenge pulled me in his office and said to me, “What’s your problem brother Keith?” I remember telling him my problem was I wanted to get high and that I was getting ready to bolt. He said, “That’s not going to stop your problem”. I then asked him what made this rehab any different from the rest. I think Brother Greg was offended, because he was quick to let me know that Teen Challenge was not a rehab. In fact he grabbed a dictionary and turned to the word rehabilitate. He pointed to the word and said to repeat the definition. It said something to the effect of this: “Rehabilitate is to bring something or someone back to its former state.” I remember Brother Greg looking me dead in the eye and saying, “Keith why in the world would you want to be rehabilitated back to your former self? Your former self had you shooting dope and smoking crack & amp; meth”. He said that at Teen Challenge I would receive a renewing of my mind and I would find the Lord and have a relationship with Jesus. I told him that I could care less about Jesus. I just wanted to stop the dope. But I decided to give this place a chance. I wasn’t exactly thrilled because the other guys that were there were always walking around praying, listening to Christian music and smiling.
Meanwhile I was having very tough nights with bad sweats and changing my sheets on my bed every night. Teen Challenge was tough. It is designed to break you down and teach you responsibility at the same time teaching you the Infallible Word of God. I reckon I had been there about 3 weeks. It was March 10, 2003, Brother Sampson, the Dean of Students, had just finished teaching a class and I remember something he said. He said that there was going to come a time in our lives when we come to a crossroads. And we were going to have to make a decision to either live a Godly life or to continue to live a life wandering in the wilderness and serving Satan, who we had been serving and living for our whole lives. He said that if we would surrender our hearts to Christ Jesus, we would have true peace, the kind of peace and joy that we had never known before.
Brother Sampson had been preaching God’s word for weeks and slowly the word had begun to minister to my heart. I had been so angry for years at a God that I didn’t even know. I was very bitter because of losing Greg, and being a victim of an ongoing drug addiction that I couldn’t get out of. I wanted to inflict pain and misery on everyone else around me because of a rage that came from deep inside the very core of my soul. I hated life, and my desire was for my life to end. I had laid awake many nights in my bed wishing I were dead, but was too ashamed to actually pull the trigger. I would lie there thinking about my kids. I would ask myself over and over why I was so weak, and I would tell myself that I was a useless human being and that I was so pathetic and I was getting what I deserved. I was truly selfish. I’d say, “If you are there God please kill me. I’m tired of living this way”. Then I would think to myself, “This is not happening to me! I’m a good guy”. I really liked life and loved people and loved my mom and pop, my beautiful babies. “What has happened to me? Where did I go? Who have I become? I’m lost!”
Brother Sampson left the room that morning after class he said “Guys you can put on some praise and worship music. You guys pray for one another and spend this time quietly”. I will never forget the song that had come on; it was “Open the Floodgates of Heaven” by Michael W Smith. That song was playing and those same guys who had been praying for me for weeks were praying and singing quietly. I started to weep. Then I began to ask Jesus to come into my heart. I was asking God to forgive me for everything in my life that I had done wrong. I remember asking Jesus to take away the taste of dope out of my mouth because I was still having withdrawals from the heroin. Well my brothers there in the room heard me crying. They all came over to me and laid their hands on me and were crying and weeping with me. I had never experienced anything like that in my life. I felt the love of God for the first time. It was amazing! The rest of the day was awesome. I felt like I was clean for the first time in my life. I knew that something was different but I couldn’t explain it. There was definitely something different about me.
That night I was lying in my bed. At Teen Challenge there are 12 beds in one of the rooms upstairs. (You know like the 12 apostles). As I was lying there and I began to ask God how he could forgive me for all the bad stuff that I had done. I was so excited all that day, I had been trying to remember all the sins I could remember so God would forgive me for each one. The numbers were way too high and so that’s why I was asking the Lord how he could forgive me for all my sins. I personally have heard 2 times in my life voices that I know were not of this world. The first was Satan, one night when I was trying to go to bed after being on a 3 or 4 day binge and as I lay in bed one night I heard a voice whisper in my ear, “I gotcha, you can’t quit! You will never quit!” That really scared me to death. But this was the other time as I was lying there that night feeling so good about my new relationship with our Lord and Savior. I asked him how could he forgive me. And this time it was a different voice, a good and gentle voice. It was as if he had knelt down beside me and whispered, “My child, I love you so much that I would go to any length to reach you. I even used your drug dealer one night to get my word to you!” Then I remembered back to when my dope dealer had given me the Gideon’s Bible. Once again I was crying so hard that I rolled out of my bed and began to weep uncontrollably and then all of my brothers jumped out of their beds and came to me and were there again crying with me. I had not felt the Love of God before and so this was all very new to me. And it felt amazing. My time at Teen Challenge was the best year of my life. It was the most productive for sure. The ministers there are men of God that I still seek Godly council from.
When I came back to my home town, I quickly found myself plugged into a good Church and surrounded myself with good and solid Christians. I had no idea what God was about to do in my life. As I told you before the love of my life had left me. She was the woman that I had considered my soulmate. She was actually seeing someone and it was pretty serious. I was sad when I found this out while I was in Teen Challenge. She asked me to be happy for her because she had found someone who was good to her. She said that if I had truly changed that I would want this for her. And so I thought about it and said “Wow this is a real test here isn’t it Lord”. I had been telling myself for months now, that I was seeking God that I was happy being inside of him and he was first and him only. Well I was really hurt because I guess somewhere back in the back of mind and heart I was hoping that Leanne and I would somehow work things out. And now it was apparent she was going to be out of my life forever. So from that moment on I would pray for her happiness. I asked God to bless her relationship with her boyfriend Ben. And I did so every day for the next four months. Well one night at Mount Grace, (that is in Dodson, La) during the second phase of Teen Challenge, I was lying there asleep when I felt something like hit me in the side. It was like I was kicked in the ribs by a mule or something. And it was as clear as a bell. “Keith Mitchell what are you doing praying for that relationship between your wife and some guy who may not take the woman of your dreams and your little boy to church. What in the world are you doing?” So I quickly hit my knees and prayed, “Lord if that man is going to have my wife and little boy in your House serving you and if and only if she is going to be truly happy, then I pray that you bless that relationship”.
And so the months pass and I come home and I am in church and Leanne is I guess watching me from afar to see if this is real. One day she stops by the house to drop Kade off and she just happens to mention that she is not as happy as she once was. She actually asked me what she should do. I said “Hey listen I can’t get involved in this. That is going to have to be between you and the Lord”. The next day she came over and said, “I did it”. I said you “Did what?” She said “I broke it off with Ben”. I waited until she wasn’t looking and I said “YESSS! Thank you Lord!” You see I remember that verse in the Bible where God says “If you seek me I will return all that the locust and canker worm hath devoured from you”. Not some but all things.
God has been so very good to me. I am truly a very blessed man. I love Jesus and I pray that he will create a pure heart within me and put a steadfast spirit in me. Leanne and I were remarried on Dec, 2nd 2003. We have a new addition to our little family, Mary-Micah Mitchell, the little blessing from our Loving Father! She is the apple of her daddy’s eyes. I have 4 beautiful children and an amazing woman who loves the Lord. Who am I, who has seen the ugly things of this world and been in places that would make a billygoat puke, and was so wrapped up in sin, that only a true and real God that loves his children so much would and could reach down and pick me up and set my feet back on solid ground.
There is so much more to this story that I couldn’t possibly put it in here. Maybe I will put it in a book that will somehow give some poor soul that is going through what I went through some hope. Because there is hope and what’s more there is a promise in the book of Jer 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I am Keith Mitchell and this is my Testimony.