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The chill went beyond my extremities and right into my soul the night I witnessed one inmate pounding the head of another with a dinner tray. That entire night I hugged my knees as tears streamed down my face. Despite the dangers within those concrete walls, I did not want my freedom--freedom always led me straight into chaos and confusion and the hell that followed. Finally accepting what I had become, I began to grasp the truth of how I first stepped onto this path of destruction and despair.

At 13, on what would have otherwise been an average summer day, I opened the door to addiction when I gave into a swig and a cigarette offered from a wayward friend. Jealousy over the attention my older brother received enveloped me. The alcohol gave me courage to finally step out of my brother’s shadow. The courage was short lived, however. I craved stronger drugs to deaden my senses. Before I realized it, I was hooked and creating havoc in my life and the lives of those around me.

Jail cells became a revolving door where I gained an overpowering appetite for more drugs to feed the belief that I was invincible. My parents tried to take up the slack but that failed because it only enabled me to make more wrong choices. And when they realized it, they cried out to God to save me. 

That 13 year old boy who longed to be set free from his brother’s shadow was now 33 years old and held captive by the shadow of death itself. Freedom eluded me, and I could no longer fight the chains that bound me. I thought I would be a drug addict for the rest of my life. 

Addiction dictated every choice I made while it drowned me in isolation and depression and even pushed me to the verge of insanity. I pleaded with God to take me out of this world because the world had no answer for me. Arrested again, I resolved to reside inside the safe secure walls of my cell forever no matter what the judge decided.

Everything was crushing in on me. Finally, the despair that held me captive caused me to call out for God to save me from myself. And that’s when things turned around.

mms_pictureIt was only by God's grace and redemption that I was set free from the chains of addiction in 2004. I graduated from Montreat College, cum laude, after studying abroad at the University of Oxford in England. The next 4 years were spent traveling the country, speaking to students about consequences of their choices. C4Life Ministries, by Bradley Harter, is all about encouraging students how to make good choices.