I Had Everything and Lost It

My name is Brad. I am 43 years of age, born and raised in Houston and currently reside in Grand Rapids.

I feel the Lord is directing me to share my testimony, especially with the youth of America, as a vessel to give praise and glory to our Lord, Jesus Christ, whose love always endures, who never forsakes us, and who will take our hand and lead us, carry us if necessary, out of the pit of hell we have created, and deliver us.

No matter what we have done, Christ is there waiting for us to reach out to him. All we have to do is receive. I have received, and this story is about the long road I took and what I endured before I received God's grace, mercy, and love. My life has never been the same since and will never be the same again. With that, I will proceed.

The story of my life reads like a script for a Hollywood movie, like the APM site analogy from 2004 now revisited in a different way with my story ten years later here in 2014. I had fame, fortune, success—I had it all, and more. But I did not have Jesus. I lived in the flesh, in the world, in darkness.

I lived in darkness for most of my life and had fame and success that most people only read about, and then hit bottom in a manner most people could not imagine.

My testimony is how I got addicted to drugs and lost everything, lost my family, my wife and two children, all my material possessions and money, lived on the streets, homeless, stole, scammed, and ultimately went to prison. It was through my adversity that I came to know Jesus.

It took me hitting bottom, sitting in prison for me to take a long, hard, uncomfortable look at myself: where I had been, and more disheartening, where I was going. I was on a one-way road to hell, and did not know how to detour from the life I had led and continued to lead.

Most people would consider prison a misfortune, but for me, it was a blessing...a life changing blessing. For me, it took prison to accept Christ and rebuild my life—a life that is still in the making.

Though I am not proud of where I've been, by the grace of God, I am proud of where I am going. I believe the Lord is using me as a vessel to show the world that his grace is sufficient, that his love and mercy is abundant. I want to share how the Lord lifted me up out of my self-created cesspool and carried me when I was too weak to walk, brought light into my life when it was too dark to see.

I spent a large part of my life preparing for and then becoming a successful stunt man in Hollywood. I did stunts in movies, commercials, and videos. I was a water skier, did free-style jumping, and barefoot water skiing. I performed for millions of people. I raced motor cross and BMX and ranked in the top 15 in my class nationwide. My résumé was impressive to say the least.

You could say I was an adrenalin junkie. The high I would get was unlike any I have achieved until I became a Christian and soldier in the army of Christ.

Before knowing Christ, and as I moved away from my action-packed life style, I turned to drugs as my source of getting high. I also turned to drugs to fill a void...a void of life long pain that only the love of Christ could fill. But it would take me many years and much destruction to myself and others, and enormous pain I inflicted on loved ones, before the scales were removed from my eyes.

After getting out of show business, my brother, a successful businessman in Nashville, asked me to move in with him and learn the auction business. I learned it quickly and assisted my brother in taking his business to new levels.

It was in Nashville that I met my second wife. Once married, together we launched our own auction company and diamond company. By the age of 37, and a high school dropout, I was a multi millionaire, a CEO of two very successful businesses. God had blessed me in so many ways but the scales had yet to be removed from my eyes.

I was a poor steward of his blessings, ignorant of the fact that I was being blessed or that I needed Jesus. I thought I was doing just fine without him, or so I thought. I really did not think, which was part of the problem. I perpetuated the power of the enemy, especially over me.

I had everything worldly a man could want; I was somebody. I was a multi millionaire, had friends and associates in high places, had a wonderful wife and children (a gift from God I was too blind to see), diamonds, cars, $800,000 home, boats, bikes, and other recreational toys, any material possession one could want and/or imagine.

The void continued to grow within me. I had many demons that I allowed to take control of me. The enemy had me fooled. The spirit of addiction had such a hold on me that it owned me. If there was an addiction for it, I had it. I was addicted gambling, cocaine, crack, meth, alcohol, pain pills, and played around with heroin.

I would go on gambling binges and take large amounts of money from my family and gamble it away. I would go on drug binges and stay gone for days or weeks at a time every 3-4 months. Even in between, the drugs and drinking never stopped. I resorted to behavior that is unfathomable.

I became a slave to drugs, alcohol, and gambling. It became my master and I served it with every once of my being. The spirit of addiction was the stronghold the devil used to hold me and keep me in bondage and despair. Self loathing became a constant companion which only fueled my problems.

After 9 years of living with me, my wife had enough and kicked me out of our home. I gave her all our assets for her and the children. I went from being someone, successful businessman, multi millionaire, with a life and material possessions only few achieve, to a homeless man addicted to drugs, alcohol, and gambling, and not a penny to my name.

I went from a life of luxury to a life of bare existence. I made my way to Grand Rapids and was living on the streets , wearing the same clothes day in and day out, panhandling so I could eat, sleeping in the woods, old abandoned cars, and with bugs and spider webs all over me.

Even in this state, I still served my masters: drugs, alcohol, and gambling. Now I could justify my addictions; look at the conditions I lived in, if you could call it living. With my gambling addiction, well, I needed to make some money fast.

I was emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I continued to make bad decisions. Perhaps the worst decision I made in my desperation turned out to be my best decision, a decision that ultimately landed me in prison.

Once in prison, I accepted Christ. The burdens were lifted off of me, the scales were removed from my eyes, I no longer live in darkness but in the light. The love of the Lord descended on me with hope, comfort, and forgiveness. I was reborn in an instant. The old person had died and a new one was born.

I still have struggles, but with Christ all things are possible. We are more than conquerors and I am living proof of that every day I get up and serve the Lord.

My mother, father, and brother and sister are all dead, and died due to drugs and/or alcohol. I am the only one that is left. With the love of Christ and his promises, I have broken the generational curse. That is a promise I live every day through faith and the direction of the Holy Spirit.

There is so much more to my testimony. The Lord has placed good friends back into my life to help me down this road and overcome the struggles and challenges the enemy continues to place before me. It is my friends that encourage me to share my testimony in the event it will touch the lives of others.

I am truly a testimony of God's love, grace, mercy, and promises. If the Lord could bring me out of the brink of destruction, deliver me from so many addictions and breathe new life into me, then his abilities are infinite and I am living proof.

While I continue to struggle and seek God's favor, strength, and direction on a daily basis, I am living a life beyond my wildest dreams. I thank the Lord for his grace and mercy or I would not be here today. I am a walking testament to his promises: Knock and I will answer, seek and you shall find. I thank the Lord that he never did forsake me even when I forsook him.

I feel a sense of urgency and led by the Holy Spirit to share my testimony with others. I pray that the Holy Spirit will descend on you and guide and direct you as you read this, and speak to your heart and allow me the honor to share the love of Christ. I pray that you receive God's blessings.

Brad -- Originally published in May 2014