At the age of 30 I was enrolled in my third drug and alcohol rehab. I was physically and mentally addicted to crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol. I basically destroyed my first marriage and my employer, Western Lumber, was ready to terminate me for coming in late almost every morning. I would party almost every night and didn’t care of any consequences. I had just recently separated from my wife Patsy and asked my brother Dale if I could stay with him for a few weeks. He agreed with one condition, that I would not sell drugs out of his apartment. I told him I wouldn’t, just so I could stay there, but I was still dealing dope out of his place.

One day I had to renew my Price Club card and as I was standing in line a Lieutenant in the Navy tapped me on my shoulder and asked me if I wanted to make $60,000 dollars in less than three weeks. I said to him “Wow! How is that possible?” He said “I would like to come to your home, or you can come to mine, and show you a presentation on what I do”. Now for a moment I thought he was an undercover cop following me. So I asked for his phone number and told him that I would ask my brother if he could come over and give his presentation. He said, “My name is John Woodson and I am looking forward to your call”.

I went home and asked my brother Dale if John could come over and show us his presentation. Dale said okay, so I called John and invited him to come over the following day. When the next day came we saw him approaching our door and he had two big leather suitcases. He rang the doorbell, I greeted him and invited him in. Dale, Bonnie (Dale’s girlfriend) and I were waiting patiently for him to begin. When John opened up his bag he reached in and brought up a box of soap that said Amway on the front cover. I was so disappointed, for I knew all about Amway products. I then said to him “I am so sorry, but I cannot get involved in your business even if I wanted to”.

I told him I was physically and mentally addicted to crystal methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol. I even mentioned to him that I was enrolled in my third rehab. He right away said to me “I know someone who can set you free and not only set you free but give you eternal life”. I replied, “If he works at the Schick Center I don’t have $5,000”. He said, “Oh, no. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for your sins and mine and all you have to do is receive Him by faith. He went on to say that Jesus will give me a new heart and a new life all by faith. I started to think about it for a moment but a religious spirit rose up in me and I said “I’m a catholic and that’s good enough for me”.

I told John our meeting was over. As he started to pack his bags he gave me his business card. On the back of his card he wrote the name of his church, “Horizon Christian Fellowship in Clairemont Mesa”. He said I can always find him there if I ever needed him. I took his card and placed it in my wallet and said goodbye. During the week that followed John called every other day. I told Bonnie, “Tell him I’m not here!” I was avoided him like the flu. Then the following week, on a cold Thursday night, I drove up to Linda Vista where Patsy, my wife at the time, was staying with my kids. I was there to drop off some money and to visit my kids. When I knocked on the door Patsy opened the door and came outside closing the door behind her.

I asked her why can’t I come in and she said that our daughter Sophia was still awake and she “didn’t want her to hear what I have to say to you tonight”. I said “Well, start saying what you have to say”. She said, “During the eight years of our marriage you introduced me to cocaine, marijuana, alcohol, and crystal methamphetamine. Our whole marriage was just a big party and one day soon we are going to be raided by the Fed’s for your drug dealing. Your brother, a cop, has told you many times ‘you better stop dealing drugs or you will go to prison’”. She then informed me that she had gone to the courthouse with her mother and filed for a divorce. I immediately was filled with wrath and anger.

I cursed her out, got in my car and left. Right around the corner on Linda Vista Road and Ulrich was a Shell gas station and I needed gas. As I got out of my car I took my wallet out and as I opened it up John’s business card falls right on my car seat. It appeared like something or someone took it out of my wallet and laid it on my car seat. I picked up the card and saw that the church, the name he had written on the back, was just a half mile away. After getting my gas I drove down Genesee and on the left hand side, on the corner of Genesee and Mount Alifan was Horizon Christian Fellowship. I pulled into the parking lot and my car was the only car on the whole campus. I got out of my car and started walking on the grass.

As I looked up I saw a class room with the lights on and a custodial cart parked at the door. I walked along the fence and as I got closer I saw a custodian vacuuming a classroom. I yelled out with a loud voice “Hey!” He heard me and turned off the vacuum and said “who’s calling me?” I said “Here I am. I’m over here at the fence”. He zeroed in on me and started to approach me. The custodian said to me “How can I help you?” I asked him, “When is your next mass?” He chuckled and said “we don’t have a mass here but we do have services at 8:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and at 6:00 p.m.” I said “cool man, thanks” then I started to walk away. He called out to me as I was walking away. “Hey wait a minute come back. There is a troubled look on your face; do you want to talk about it?” I said, “I don’t even know you man!” To which he replied, “That’s okay just talk to me. I was just finishing up my last classroom and I have all the time to talk to you.”

Now here is this total stranger whom I have never met before and I was spilling out my guts to him! I told him about my drug rehab, my wife filing a divorce, my job ready to terminate me and then I lifted up my pant leg and said to him, “See this pouch in my sock? It’s over $500 of crystal methamphetamine! I am physically and mentally addicted to this stuff and I can’t seem to shake it”. He said, “Stop right there; I know someone who can not only set you free but give you eternal life”. I asked him “Who? Who can help me? Who can set me free?”

“His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died for your sins and mine. All you have to do is receive Him by faith and He will give you a new heart and a new life.” I started thinking to myself, this is the second person in one week who has told me about Jesus. I asked if I could come back Sunday and he said, “No man right now. You can receive Jesus right now! Just pray with me”. I told him I didn’t know how to pray. He said “Just bow your head down and raise your hand up against mine”. So I did despite there being a chain link fence between us. Then he said “Repeat this prayer after me:

Dear Lord Jesus, I confess that I’ve been a sinner all my life; I believe on Your death, burial and resurrection. I believe that You died for me and that the blood that You shed on the cross will cleanse me of all my sins. Come into my heart.”

As soon as I said that, I didn’t even get to Amen, when a whoosh came upon me and I started crying like a little baby. I said “What’s happening to me?” He told me to calm down and said, “The Holy Spirit has come upon you right now!” The last time I cried like that was when my grandmother died but the difference was these tears were not of sorrow but of joy! I felt as if a million tons lifted from me. Everything was so brand new and as my tears were flowing down my face the custodian’s eyes got real big as he told me look up into the sky. He said, “Do you feel the wind blowing?” “Yes” I replied and then he asked, “Can you see the wind?” I said “No.” He went on to say that “the angels in heaven are rejoicing that you have just received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior”. Then we exchanged phone numbers and I drove home.

As soon as I got home I went straight into the bathroom and took that pouch of crystal out of my sock. I poured out all the small packets into the big pouch and took the big pouch and flushed it down the toilet! I was immediately delivered from all my addictions in that moment. I then proceeded into my room and scooped up all the girly books from under my bed and threw them into the dumpster behind the apartments. The very next morning I went to a book store and bought my first Bible. I was in church that very next Sunday. That was nineteen years ago with no looking back! To Jesus I give all the praise and glory! By the Grace of God I am now the Senior Pastor at Amazing Grace Christian Fellowship in Chula Vista.
Placido “Fee” Soliven

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