“Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” That’s Step 2. It’s a faith step. It means that I realize there’s Someone bigger than me who can sort out my mess and restore my life.
For some of us, raised in Christian homes, that Power is the God of our childhoods – the One who has been with us all along, wooing our hearts in gentle, often-unnoticed ways. For others, with not-so-good childhood images of God, He is not the judging, condemning, angry God of our fathers, but an altogether more personal, intimate, gracious Friend – Someone who understands our story and longs to be the biggest part of it. When we discovery Him and His power to restore – we become a new creation. We are transformed!
That’s the story I want to share with you today – a story of transformation. It’s not my story, but that of a high school classmate. Back in the day, we called him “Pete.” Pete was loud, funny, and one of those “cool” guys who made life on our tiny campus interesting.
I didn’t know him well. Didn’t stay in touch after graduation. Didn’t see him for twenty years. But when I returned for our class reunion in 2008, it only took one glimpse of his face for me to know the lifestyle he’d been living since school. Being newly single, after watching my spouse destroy our marriage with substance abuse, I recognized all the signs. They are burned into my brain. It hurt to talk with Pete; hurt to witness the life path he had chosen.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard from him again. “Juliet, this is Petros Colla. I’d love to share my story with you.”
After listening to what God has done in his life, I invited Petros to write a guest post for this blog. I want to share his story to give my readers hope for their loved ones, (or for themselves). It’s devastating to pray and plead for years, only to watch addiction cycle through a loved one’s life over and over and over again. When there’s a story of someone jumping off the crazy train, I want to share it! Here’s the story of Petros, my high school classmate and friend:
In May of this year my life changed! Five weeks prior to May 8, 2014, I was on my deck having a phone conversation with my sister, Nena, explaining to her that she should write me off. I was done! My street lifestyle and drug addiction had consumed me.
“I can’t shake it,” I told her. “I’m not gonna change. Even God can’t help me because my heart is too hardened. I can’t feel anything anymore and I don’t care if I live or die. I love you Nena.”
Then God moved.
On May 8, 2014 I gave someone a ride to sell drugs. I had been involved in the drug culture for years, going from drug dealer to drug addict junkie. The person I was with was arrested and charged with three felony drug charges.
So was I. I faced three to twenty-five years in Federal or State prison. As I waited to see the magistrate, right there in Eastern Regional County Jail, I cried out to God. At that instant I turned my will and my life over to Him. The testimony that follows shows me that God keeps His Jeremiah 33:3 promise ~ to ME!
I already had two different court cases pending. One was a traffic violation, driving on a suspended license for the fourth time. The consequence for that was a minimum of one year in jail. The second, a criminal case, was for drug possession that could land me many years behind bars.
Upon my release from jail, I went to church and heard the ministry regarding the power of prayer by Jerry and Janet Page. I applied that teaching to my life and asked my friend Joe to be my prayer partner. We began to pray together daily – that I stay a free man, amongst other prayer requests and praises.
Because of my criminal record I was looking at being charged on the Federal level. You see, I have many other state drug convictions on my record. If my case went Federal, because of my background I was looking at up fifteen years in Federal prison.
I am a FREE man today ONLY BECAUSE OF THE POWER OF DAILY PRAYER! Two of my court cases have been resolved and my next court date is in November. I am looking at a light sentence with no incarceration! PRAISE GOD! No one and nothing in this universe can tell me any different – I am free because of my God’s mercy! I turn my will and life over to Him DAILY.
I’ve tried different ways to stop getting high over the past twenty-eight years. I’ve been to three rehabs and to counseling. The only way I have over six months clean time (drug free) is because of the power of intercessory prayer. This is the longest period of freedom in my life. I give my Heavenly Father all the praise and glory! He truly walks with me and talks with me and calls me His own!
I want to encourage everyone – if you are seeking answers in your life, get a daily prayer partner. God spells it out in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you…”
Petros’ story is a story of hope for all of us. It’s the story of someone who took God at His word and believed that He was the only Power great enough to restore him to sanity. I’m so grateful to be able to share this with you as we look at Step 2 in our series on the Twelve Steps. If you are praying for someone and are struggling with your faith, keep believing. Petros’ family prayed him through twenty-eight years of addiction. It was only when he realized his powerlessness and daily sought the power of One greater than himself, that God was able to restore his sanity.
Petros is now sharing his story of hope through the spoken word in poetry form. Below is his most recent poem. After watching him (via social media) share this prayer/poem with an audience this weekend, my faith is strengthened. God truly redeems the lives we thought were lost.
A Once Broken Man
Once a broken man, You heard me tell Nena,
“I am so gone, God can’t even help me.”
I love you Nena, but from this street life and drug addiction,
I can’t break free!
Five weeks later, May 8, 2014 –
with my hardened heart,
You brought me to my knees.
Lost and alone, forgotten how to pray,
I cried out in jail, “God help me please!”
To me, you have kept your promise in Jeremiah 33:3.
And your grace kept me alive to see,
My God is MERCY.
Greatest lie I ever believed,
of Your love I was no longer worthy.
Through daily surrender and reading,
You sent this junkie free.
Because of the power of intercessory prayer,
today I am not in federal prison.
Because of the power of intercessory prayer,
of my shame and guilt, I am forgiven.
For so many years I was filled with anger,
which I passed on to others.
Your forgiveness replaced angry with love,
now I called and my sisters and brothers.
My God is FORGIVENESS.
I came to you just as I was, a broken man.
My daily guide is Your Son’s nail scarred hands.
When I spoke, I used to take Your precious name in vain.
Now I use it to call on You to help me stay sane.
Today I no longer sling doubt.
I tell of my Savior’s mercy, forgiveness, and hope.
My God is HOPE.
During my drug feel days, I still heard your voice.
Your love saved me after continually making the wrong choice.
I praise Your name daily for the unconditional love You show me.
Once imaginable thoughts are now answers to prayer.
That’s my ministry.
You take the time to show me better than You can tell me.
That’s why with you I stand.
My God is LOVE.
Lost in a drug-filled haze is where the devil had my soul.
The greater miracle is how my God makes me whole.
The best part of my day is when You and I talk.
Today I have no fear because it is with You and I walk.
Joe and I prayed together daily, asking that You remember us in that final call.
Your mercy, forgiveness, hope, love, and strength is what he and I share with all.
My God is ALMIGHTY.
Heavenly Father, my body is weary
no longer on this earth do I wish to roam.
It is my prayer that you use me to finish your work.
I want to come home.
I praise your name for two parents who prayed for me –
without ceasing, for 28 years.
I praise your name Almighty God,
because You want wiped away my guilt-filled tears.
You have kept me alive
long enough to reveal to me, the beauty of Your plan.
I give you all the glory
for the miracle that I stand before you,
a once broken man.
My God is the ALPHA and the OMEGA.
My prayer partner Joe (far left), Pastor David (center) and me (Petros – far right) at Maryland Men Of Faith conference this year.
Petros Colla writes from Hagerstown, Maryland. Raised by Christian parents, he chose a street life for twenty-eight years. It is only because of God’s grace that he lives to turn his will and life over to Him daily. Through the power of prayer, Petros has been drug-free for six months.
I have the pleasure of knowing Petros. He is one of the greatest inspirations in my life. He spoke to me on a level I could understand and he actually took me into one of his recovery houses. Unfortunately my addiction took control of me again and I had to leave. Petros is the kind of guy he will give you the shirt off his back if you need it. I know that phrase is tossed around alot but with his it’s TRUE. He is so passionate about recovery and helping others. He is my idol and one day I wish to get back on the right track. Petros you are a God send love my brother and keep up the blessing you give people.
Thanks for peters message,I’ve been sober in aa 31 yrs,32 o march 12 15,I need prayer,wth ocd,sex addiction,health situations,please pray
Hello Mario, Thank you so much for your comment and your transparent request for prayer. Our ministry team is praying for you tonight and has added you to our prayer list. Congratulations on the anniversary of your sobriety tomorrow. 32 years of sobriety is certainly something to celebrate! Praise God for His faithfulness to you.
If I may, I’d like to suggest some resources which may be helpful to you. The first is that perhaps you can find a local chapter of Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program. They do a wonderful Step Study that may be a good place to find healing from the other issues you are dealing with. Also, Neil Anderson shares some powerful spiritual tools in his book, Bondage Breaker (available on Amazon). You may also find some of the resources on our “Relevant Life Solutions” website helpful as you continue to seek healing. Here’s the link: http://www.relevantlifesolutions.org/
Father in heaven, Mario is reaching out to You. Please reach down to him through the power of your Spirit. Please guide him to a community of believers who will walk alongside him as You continue to bring healing into his life. Thank You for his 32 years of sobriety. Thank You for Your promise to finish the good work You began in Him. Thank You for the healing You have already begun. In the holy name of Jesus, Amen.
I love the power of the 12 step program! My local congregation offers an Addiction Recovery Meeting every week with a modified version of the 12 steps (scriptures verses have been added with a writing section to each step.) I don’t struggle with an addiction myself, but I’ve heard these meeting can be very healing for any kind of bad habit or scar life has left on you. Does anyone have experience going to these types of meetings for problems besides substance abuse?
Brooke ~ Thank you so much for your comment. Our church began a 12 Step Class a year ago. We just started over again with Step 1 with a new group. It’s been a real blessing to have a space to be transparent and to allow God to work through the Steps to being healing and wholeness to areas of brokenness in our lives. Some of us are chemically dependent, some of us are codependent, and some of us struggle with addiction to food, relationships, media, whatever the enemy can use to separate us from God. One Christian recovery program uses the phrase “hurts, habits & hang ups” to describe the areas that can be addressed by a 12 Step group.
If you want to email me directly at email@example.com, I will be happy to answer any other questions you may have. Personally, I think SIN is what everyone is addicted to, in one form or another. We all need help with that! The 12 Steps are a powerful tool that God can use to transform us into His likeness.
Its Good to see old Friends coming back to the Lord… May God Continue to Bless Pete and Joe!
It is a beautiful thing. He never gives up on us.
You’re welcome Lisa! A testimony like this can be used to keep hope alive. God bless you!
Thanks for allowing your friend to tell his story on your blog. Such a powerful testimony!