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Story by Justyn Smith
In an effort to bring awareness to the drug epidemic taking place in Hot Springs and the entire country right now, Justyn Smith has asked to share his story with our viewers. He was arrested in Hot Springs, he has hit rock bottom and he has bounced back better than anyone could have anticipated!
Justyn especially wanted to send the message to current drug addicts that recovery is absolutely possible if you are fully committed to living a clean life of purpose.
He cites the outstanding recovery program and instructors at John 3:16 Ministries located in Charlotte, AR as a major factor in his sobriety healing process.
Please read his story.
My name is Justyn Smith. I am a father to three great kids, and I’ve been married to my wife, Nikki, for almost fourteen years. I am a son, a brother, and an uncle. I am also a Felon and a former drug addict.
Although family has always been important to me, I made a series of very selfish choices over the course of nearly twenty years. The result of these decisions was predictable, looking back. During much of this time going into adulthood and into my thirties I was a drug addict simply doing things drug addicts do, leaving behind me a wake of confusion, resentment and distrust.
When the law finally caught up with me, as it always will, I wasn’t surprised. My family wasn’t either.
As my time in county jails on the last go around in 2014 was drawing close to my release date, my head began swimming. My children were in the guardianship and custody of my parents and my marriage was very close to ending. I had no legal employment history or education to fall back on because I had been supporting our family, prior to jail, with my involvement in the drug trade. I was thirty-two, and my tradecraft had been in marijuana.
Although my parents were supportive, helping me to obtain employment and allowing me to live in their home, the long-term consequences were much more difficult than just being in jail had been. Living life as a convicted felon was new territory for me, as far as fines, fees, probation, drug court, drug tests and so on. It wasn’t very long until I had fallen back into a pattern of disaster. I managed to trudge on, without hope for some time. I had lost my home and our possessions twice. My family was fractured, and I was headed to prison in Alabama for absconding from drug court. I was likely about to violate felony probation here in Arkansas as well for missing appointments and for non-payment of roughly $11,000 in fines and restitution.
In those dark times in my own addiction I made one good decision. I gave up. I gave up my pride and arrogance, and I gave up on a miserable life. I threw my hands up and asked for help. I told my family, and I told my probation officer that I was a drug addict and I didn’t think I had much more fight left in me. Instead of the condemnation I was so certain I would face, I received none. In fact, in my weakness and in my honesty is when my life began to shift. I sold or gave away everything I owned, which wasn’t much, and I began attending services at John 3:16 Ministries located in Charlotte, Ar. When I was accepted into the program after an interview process, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders. My first thoughts were “It’s over”. The nightmare that I had been living did, thankfully, come to an end on that first Sunday in May 2016.
As a resident of John 3:16 I was given the incredible opportunity to put my life back together with Jesus Christ as the foundation. I recognized the value of the program in which I was a resident early on and used this time to the best of my ability. The camp is designed for men just like me. I not only needed the structured environment, but I desperately needed, for a time, guidance on how to function without drugs and alcohol. I had not worked a job in several years or been in any type of social setting without a substance for a very long time. I wanted a new life very much. The Director of the ministry, Bryan Tuggle and the instructors there gave me a chance to earn this new life. I had tried my way for long enough, and my way had always led to failure. I made a daily choice to try doing things in a much different way. I submitted to the authority of Jesus Christ. I began to read my Bible and put into practice the message I was learning. When I read Deuteronomy chapter 30:11-20, a lightbulb went off in my head. This scripture explained why my life had been in shambles. This passage explained to me “Life and Death, Blessings and Curses.” I Chose Life.
I was given an opportunity, free of charge at John 3:16 Ministries. I had no money to pay for rehab. I had nothing when I showed up except for a backpack of clothing and a laundry basket. At no point was I asked to pay for anything. They received me with compassion. The only thing that was required of me was to be “willing and obedient”. So long as I could be simply that, I was welcome for as long as I needed. I cheerfully remained a resident for nine months, three months longer than is required. I was taught not just a better way to live, but the best way to live. I was shown, over the short months as a resident how to carry out building on the foundation I had been preparing, upon graduation and re-entering society. I chose to remain until I was certain I could change my people, places and things, and not return to the same environment that had contributed to my addiction. I am eternally grateful for this opportunity and my life is forever changed. If I continue to live in the way I have been taught at John 3:16, I will never return to the despair that brought me there in the first place.
My wife was a resident of John 3:17, a ministry which helps women overcome addictions in Newport, Ar., at the same time, and we were able to work on our marriage and family.
In the two years as a graduate of John 3:16 I have continued to put Christ first in my life. I have since completed drug court with Alabama and am nearing completion with Arkansas probation. My family has been restored, and we are closer and stronger than ever. I have been employed with a local construction company, working with several John 3:16 graduates since graduating in February 2017. I am active in various recovery groups and ministries such as Celebrate Recovery. I am also taking classes at University of Arkansas Community College in Batesville, making an effort to earn a bachelor’s degree. Against all odds, the future is bright. It has taken a conscious resolve, consistency and a promise I made to myself to have the best attitude possible, to do my best and never give up. I am not alone in my efforts, many people have given me a hand up along the way, sometimes it takes a village, and I am grateful.
My vision is to see our communities come back from drug and alcohol addiction in wonderful ways. It is possible, I see slivers of this dream every day. One of the great pleasures I have is to watch a broken person ask for help, and then see them fight for a better life and stick with it. It takes a stern and loving community, but I believe a community problem is a community responsibility. We can all take part in investing into someone who is struggling. Then, the future is indeed bright for us all
John 3:16 for Men: www.john316thecure.com
John 3:17 for Women: http://www.john317ministry.org/