Hi, this is Bernie Dake.
Welcome to the Salvation Army's Words of Life. Hello and welcome. I am Chris Benjamin, the producer for Words of Life. We really hope you enjoyed our series, Crafted.
This was a seven-week series about artists that concluded last week. If you missed any of these episodes, be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts or visit SalvationArmySoundcast.org. Before we get started with our next series, Pathways with Major Mike Harris, we wanted to share a special episode we recorded while at a Salvation Army Youth Camp. This episode is a recording of a powerful testimony from Lieutenant Chris Patrick. From a successful baseball career to a drug addiction, Chris eventually made his way to a Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center that changed his life in a way he could have never imagined. If you or a loved one is in need of help, learn more about our Adult Rehabilitation Centers at SalvationArmyUSA.org or visit SalvationArmy.org to find an army near you. Uh, rank?
Or am I just me? Okay, Lieutenant Chris Patrick. I'm in Waldorf, Maryland. So I was commissioned June of 2018, so I'm going into my fourth year, and I had the distinct pleasure of starting the work in Waldorf. So for my commissioning, they handed me a flag and said, go plan it. I said, what? I'm new to the Army.
What is this? It's funny because, like, when you're in that little tunnel before you get your appointment, you know, you line up with your session mates, right? And everybody's talking about where they think they're going, and it's all exciting. And I just said, I don't care. Let me go assist under some rock star officers, right? Because I don't know anything, but I want to know. I want to be good at this. I want to serve the Lord well. And, uh, and God said, oh, is that all you think I can do? You know, is that, so that's all you think I can use you for is to, you know, just do this one pigeonhole box, uh, put me in a box situation. And he said, oh, okay.
Well, here you go. Man. So, uh, I was introduced to the Army by a beautiful lady in a black robe that goes by the name of Judge. So, uh, I, I got in some trouble and my previous life, so backward back up a little bit. Uh, I played some semi-pro baseball, played independent ball, played four years of college. Like pretty, pretty, um, like, you know, real, like real baseball, uh, got injured my third year.
I was really, I was probably a cup of coffee away from like getting to play for a real, you know, a real major league in the minors team. And I got injured. I tore my labrum as a pitcher. So your labrum is like the one part of your body that you can't really repair. Now, if it was my elbow, there's a thing called Tommy John, which actually you come back throwing harder as a pitcher.
Mine was my shoulder. So I tried to throw through the pain. I was getting prescribed Percocets like by my team doctor.
Cause it wasn't a problem. It was 2005 pills weren't. No, everybody had pills in their cabinet at this time.
It was normal. So Percocets, I'm pitching, I'm getting cortisone shots. I'm taking Percocets. I'm throwing, I mean, I'm throwing well because I can't feel my arm. Next thing you know, I get to a point where the pain is just, you know, it's done, but now I'm hooked on painkillers.
So now I'm off the team. I've got no way of getting this need and I'm on the streets. So introduced to recreational drugs.
So opiates on the street are a lot cheaper than those that come, you know, from the doctor. So I got, you know, I realized that I was, I was hooked. So the moment I stopped having them, I didn't know I was an addict because I just, I was like, oh, okay, no more Percocet.
That's fine. I'll live my life. I got violently ill through detox.
And I was like, oh, I need these things. So got, you know, fast forward homelessness, a bunch of charges, like, I mean like six or seven times arrested before the big one. I'm living at a hotel, a crack hotel with my brother who also got so sober and saved through the Salvation Army and now has two beautiful daughters and is living a great life.
Yeah. So I ended up having to deal drugs in order to pay for my habit, which is that's the precipice where you get in this life. And my first two times I dealt drugs, I'd sold to an undercover cop.
First two and my only two. So they realized that I wasn't a kingpin drug dealer. So they just finally came and arrested me for the two charges. And I had two sales felonies and two possessions, second degree. And I had a bad record.
So I was looking at five years minimum mandatory. But what we did was my mom and my lawyer and myself, they said, let's combat this situation first. Let's go to a rehab. You know, I was in jail. The only way I was going to get let out is if I went to a court ordered rehab.
And the part of the story where God just like, I mean, I like people are like, you should write a book because it's almost unbelievable. My mom works at Bank of America, has for my whole life. She does mortgages sitting in her office the same moment that I call her from jail, asking her for bail money is a retired Salvation Army officer, Major Mary Lighty.
And not in uniform. She's retired. You know, she's just getting a mortgage on her house. I call my mom. She picks up the phone. I start screaming at her, you know, put up the house.
I've got seventy five thousand dollar bond. Get me out of here. You know, just as addicts and horrible children that do to their parents. So I hang up on her. She starts crying in front of this total stranger. She breaks down. Major Mary Lighty, anybody that knows her, she's an angel. So she's a retired officer, not a retired Christian. So she sees that, walks over to my mom, starts praying with her. What can I do to help? My mom says, my son's a drug addict.
He can't get out of jail until we get him to a rehab center. I've been calling the Salvation Army, but the list is two months long and I can't get him in. She says, well, I might know somebody. My mom doesn't know her from Eve. So she said, I'll make a call. She calls the Salvation Army Suncoast ARC in St. Petersburg, Florida. She says, this is Major Mary Lighty.
I don't know if this will help, but I've got a young man that I'd like to help his mom. Can you put him on a cot in the library until a bed opens up? They said yes. So delivered from jail in handcuffs to the Salvation Army Suncoast ARC in St. Petersburg, Florida, November 4th, 2013. And I'm in there.
If I get kicked out, I'm going to prison for five years, no questions asked. So I went in there ready for something different, didn't know what that looked like. But when I got there, revival had already broken out.
Four guys before me had already gotten saved and are in seminary and training college becoming officers. So I didn't know what this was. So I walk in and when the spirit's moving and you can touch it, taste it and feel it, whether you believe in God or not, something's happening.
So I walk in there and I feel this and I was like, I don't know what this is, but I like it. You know, I thought I was an atheist. I tell people I was an unsuccessful atheist. I tried so hard not to believe, but God just showed up. But I didn't know what was going on. And I get sent to this rehab, Christian rehab, where they make you go to church.
And revival was happening. This guy, my best friend now, I was the best man at his wedding. Lieutenant Rob Corson was a truck driver and they put me on his truck to be a helper.
So the employees always have a beneficiary as their helper. And I was his and he just talked about recovery and Jesus and he prayed with me every morning. And he just, he discipled me for eight hours a day on a truck, picking up donations and ended up being my sponsor with AA. We went through the 12 steps. Then I met this group of guys, our family now, it's just Captain Ryan Mayo, Lieutenant Chris, or Captain Chris DeBorowitz, Lieutenant Rob Corson and now myself.
They're all in the same fit. So Ryan discipled Chris, Chris discipled Robbie, Robbie discipled me. All all be known to me because they were already gone when I got there other than Robbie. So yeah. So where it changed was, yeah, I'm sober. I'm saved.
This is great. But then Robbie said, let's go to the Clearwater Corps and meet Captain Zach Bell. And he's like, I go, I don't want to go to church, bro. I just went to church at 830. Two churches? No. He goes, but hey, if you come, we go out to Buffalo Wild Wings after church and we hang out.
Free food. I'm in rehab. Let's ride. So we go there and Major Zach Bell now, who is my mentor, he sat next to me on purpose during dinner. There's 12 of us.
I mean, but he made sure. Hey, man, what's your name? Oh, I'm Chris.
Tell me your story. And he was this regular guy, University of Kentucky basketball shirt on. He's like, he's like, I golf. He plays ping pong.
He plays basketball. This is your this is the pastor, this guy. And he just made relationship with me. And he, you know, he told me he loved me. And he said, Jesus loves you.
Yeah. And got a calling onto my life or full time ministry pretty quickly. We were surrounded by like you're surrounded by awesomeness, like God's going to get a hold of you easier.
There was no running. I was actually running into what was already going on. So when I first got in there, I was my drug of choice at the time was crack cocaine and methadone. And methadone is an opiate that gets in your bones. It's supposed to get you off of heroin, but like you get hooked on it, too.
It's like a parallel move. So I was in there detoxing off like 250 milligrams of methadone a day, cold turkey. So did 30 days in jail. Now I'm at the center, still detoxing pretty bad. So I couldn't do much manual labor. So I go in there and they put me in the warehouse and I got the I was hanging clothes. And, you know, so, you know, you hang clothes to the thrift store and donations come in, you unpack a bag and you hang up shirts and pants and then it slide.
You know, it goes through a production supervisor and slides over to the stores and all that. But to me, it was just like it was what they call work therapy for a reason, because it is therapeutic to do something for God first and foremost. But for you know, where you actually you at the end of the day, you lay your head down and you say, man, I worked hard today and that's what I did.
And I loved it and I took pride in it. Finally, I get on Robbie's truck, right, only about 30 days in and we were picking up donations. And I'm watching Robbie interact with these donors and telling them about Jesus and telling them about the program and telling them about me and what we're doing.
And I'm just like, this is awesome. So the day to day, I mean, you go you go to meetings. There's classes you got to take, like, you know, counseling classes and and what addiction is and what you know, what what happens in your brain chemistry. Then there's like classes on like sexual lust and things that, you know, we need to know as men because it's a men's program.
Then you take your Bible classes, you got Bible studies, you've got church on Sundays mandatory. And with my administrators at the time, captains Gary and Liz Wilson, who are now Colonel Gary and Liz, wasn't you had to have a sponsor. And NA, AA, CR, any of these, you know, 12 step programs that you and Captain Colonel is it now would walk by you and say, who's your sponsor? She cared about us like that. You want to talk about incarnation of living. Those two never left the center.
I was I never didn't see them there. I'm one of those stories where when when when self will gets shattered and turns into God's will, what he can do with a surrendered heart. And that's not an ego thing on my part, because anybody will tell you, including it's funny because Zach Bell, who's here with us, right, knows me better than anyone. And he pulls me aside. We're talking we're praying with people at the altar and he grabs me and he says, I'm so stinking proud of you, man. I was like, thank you, sir.
Yeah, I love that. He's like, no, you don't know why. I was like, you were the biggest egotistical, cocky guy I've ever met. And he's like, you would never be at the altar praying with children, not the old you because you were too cool for it. And he's like, I see it and I see God working through you and I see now why he called you to this. So, yeah, it's that's how, you know, a transformed heart, a 180 that God can do in somebody's life from open freedom of worship to praying with kids. Because you care and doing things even though you might be looked at as a weirdo, right? Because that was always my thing.
I didn't want anybody to think I was not cool. So, yeah, so that's just the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of a surrendered and obedient heart. The Salvation Army's mission, Doing the Most Good, means helping people with material and spiritual needs. You become a part of this mission every time you give to the Salvation Army. Visit salvationarmyusa.org to offer your support.
And we'd love to hear from you. Email us at radio at USA.org. Call 1-800-229-9965 or write us at P.O.
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