In my early teens I dabbled in drinking alcohol and smoking hash 'recreationally', until I had an unexpected yet life changing encounter with God.
In my early teens I dabbled in drinking alcohol and smoking hash 'recreationally', until I had an unexpected yet life changing encounter with God. This event re-routed my life for a period from the habits I was forming. However over the next number of years I slowly and subtly began to become weighed down with temptations and un-resolved underlying issues, which led me to compromise again with alcohol and more predominantly drugs. But now the substance abuse was more driven by escapism from internal dysfunction. In this self-imposed emotional and physical isolation, I developed mental health problems which led to increased use of hash and the more potent weed as a means to still my continual racing mind and numb my emotions. Anxiety, anger, loneliness, fear and a dull grey cloud of depression became the norm as my dependency grew. Every penny was committed to feeding the habit. Energy and time were also squandered as I would go to ludicrous lengths just to obtain drugs. My parents tried to intervene due to my obvious downward spiral into a visibly disturbed state, ranging from extreme weight loss to perpetually talking to myself. I without reservation acknowledged my need for help. Somehow we got in contact with Paul Paynter at Christian Family Centre (NI) and he graciously received me to stay at Armoy. I went there motivated by need and desperation rather than a sincere desire and commitment to change. Three weeks in I broke and left the CFC against all wise counsel. The next year was unsurprisingly worse than ever. After a long awkward season of running myself into the ground I came to the end of it all. After years on the endless surreal merry-go-round of marijuana obsession I finally wanted off.
Coincidently my relationship with a childhood friend, Liath Harrison, blossomed and her love and support helped me to concrete my commitment to stop abusing drugs and start facing reality. I now wanted to go back to CFC, this time not just because I needed to change but because I wanted change. I was welcomed back with a warm embrace and we picked up where we left off before my relapse. I can't say it was all easy but it was 100% worth it. I stayed there for about seven months. Looking back that time was needed to stabilise and implement a new way of living ‘sober’ within the protective boundaries of Centre life at Armoy. When addiction took over order went out the window, so re-establishing healthy eating, sleeping, work and social interaction was needful. Although the real chaos that needed order was in my thought life. The continual input of a steady diet of biblical truth began the process of exposing the long list of lies that were controlling my life and behaviour. I learnt to process past hurts and pains appropriately. I learnt how to receive a fresh understanding of God’s loving fatherhood. There was a disarming of the deeply rooted self-hatred, shame and guilt through the knowledge of my forgiveness in Christ. I started to grasp the power of my own negative words upon my life. I gained practical education on how to choose my thoughts and manage my feelings. I found out the value of Godly solitude and stillness as opposed to dangerous isolation. I gained a new hope to move forward in
In hindsight I not only misunderstood what the real problems were but also how change was going to come. For me it was less immediate or sudden and more steady and gradual. My dysfunction took time to develop so it only makes sense that my recovery also took time. I've found change to be less of an event and more of a journey.
It is over 18 months since I left Armoy and I'm so glad to be free from the debilitating grip of the drugs that my life used to revolve around. I've had a job for the past year at a fast-food outlet and am looking for other employment opportunities. My beautiful girlfriend became my beautiful wife (with Paul conducting our wedding ceremony).
As relatively small as my personal growth might appear at times there still stands a drastic contrast between my present life and my previous way of living, consumed with drugs and their consequences. Those years are now a distant dark memory.
I thank God for my wife Liath’s patient support during my recovery. I'm also grateful for Paul and Kerry and commitment of those at CFC Armoy to extend mercy, hope and truth to those lost and bound by addictions.
I end with a quote which explains what produced real freedom in my experience. Jesus said “if you continue in my word then are you my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free... If the Son therefore shall make you free you shall be free indeed."
Paul and kerry lead the work of Christian Family Centre at the Armoy centre.
They live at CFC with their two sons Noah and Ezra.
Davey and Linda Hoy founded Christian Family Centre in 1990.
Christian Family Centre is financed through donations from individuals, churches, businesses and other charities.If you are a UK tax payer any donation you make can be treated as a Gift Aid Donation.