A Drug Addict Finds a Greater Power
My parents tell me that when I was born, I cried so loudly they laughed. A few years later my parents could no longer laugh. During the 16 years of my drug addiction, my parents cried abundant tears as I turned our family’s life into hell.
No Way to Escape
In Vietnam, being born into an affluent family provides a certain amount of privilege. From childhood I was spoiled and got most everything I demanded. Many families would wish for the same level of wealth and supremacy my family had, but unfortunately our family’s wealth did not afford me happiness. On the contrary, I used it to bring about destruction in my life and misery to my family.
At about age 11 or 12, I began leaving home sporadically to hangout with friends, many of whom were bad elements in society. We sought pleasurable activities of all kinds— the more risky and sinful the better. Even though I was young, I had plenty of money to spend. But the money never seemed to be enough! Sometimes I would steal money from my family or take items from our house to sell to get more money. Though I pursued pleasure, nothing satisfied the emptiness in me.
When I turned 14, I began experimenting with drugs. Initially I thought drugs would be the solution to my pleasure-seeking endeavors and that they would fulfill my emptiness. What I didn’t expect was that they would destroy my life and greatly impact the well-being of my entire family. By the time I was aware of their destructive effects, it was already too late to change course. I had no clue how to escape drug addiction.
In 1994, heroin flooded Hanoi, Vietnam. I tried it, and by my 18th birthday, it had completely enslaved me. I was selling items from our home, living on the streets, robbing and stealing anything in sight in order to facilitate my high and saturate my addiction. My frequent violent behavior, constant anger, and distraught emotions turned our home into “hell.” My parents (and later my wife whom I married when I was 24) lived in a constant state of fear, knowing nothing else to do but contact the police who would come and put me behind bars in jail or send me to rehabilitation camp.
Truly, I was tormented by my addiction. While sitting in jail cells, I felt intense darkness and isolation from my family. I realized I didn’t want to live like this, but I was helpless to do anything about it. My parents used all the means they had to help break my addiction. But authority, wealth, and even love and care did not help. I attempted to fight my addiction with my own will, but to no avail, and hopelessness gradually became despair. I was at a dead-end. Everything in my life became hopeless.
At one point my family considered sending me to China for neurological surgeries or to Russia for similar procedures to “eradicate” my addiction, despite knowing that there was a high chance of my becoming entirely vegetative. My family was determined to pursue these options and certain that they would rather see me handicapped than trapped in my addiction and gradually drift into death.
But—Praise the Lord!—God had a better plan for me! During the 16 years (1990-2006) that I battled addiction, I entered and exited prison and rehab 14 different times. As such, I realized that even the brawny chains of prison could not keep me from going back to heroin. But my 14th time in-andout of prison was also my last!
I became so frightened of the tangible consequences of further heroin use that I sought to forget heroin any way I could, doing anything to prevent daily use. In order to abstain from using heroin, I began binge drinking, gambling, clubbing, and even physical fighting—whatever it took to focus my attention on anything but my need for heroin. I began drinking three liters of alcohol daily—too much, and my mental status deteriorated so that I no longer behaved like other human beings. At one point I took over 40 sleeping pills in an attempt to get relief by death. My family found me in time and rushed me to the hospital andsaved my life. Another time, hoping to die, I deliberately overdosed on heroin. Some people found my body and tossed me beside a pond. They said my heart had stopped beating. But, somehow, God in His mercy saved me, and I survived.
Deep down, I did not want to continue living in such a painful condition of life. My heart screamed out, “Is anyone there? Please help me! I don’t want to live anymore!” This call for help from deep in my soul was shouted loudly because I was suffering in such physical torment.
A Greater Power
Then one day while walking the streets, I was approached by a former friend, someone with whom I had done drugs in the past. He appeared different—he was glowing. His face shined like I had never seen before. He spoke of God’s love, a love mighty enough to rescue him from sin and change his life. I listened to this astonishing story—that God was able to deliver one from addiction—and was speechless! In an instant, I opened my heart to God and committed my life to follow the path He had for me. That was the 25th day of November, 2006.
Someone gave me a Bible and told me that the Word of God had Authority and Power. That was all I knew. Then I began reading the Bible. Imagine it! I, a drug addict and criminal for 16 years, after 15 days of reading the Bible could not say a curse word. My throat was practically plugged by the Word of God. I felt I could no longer use derogatory language. Within a short span of time, I could not lie. A little time later, I could on longer smoke or drink. Gradually, even the thoughts in my head were filtered through the Word of God. I knew Christ loved me and was rescuing me! It was truly a miracle!
A Family Changed
The salvation God provided me began to pour into my entire family— first of all, saving my parents, and my wife, and my little daughter who now had a daddy to love her. The past suffering we had experienced in “hell” was replaced by grace from Heaven. Members of my extended family who had witnessed my former way of life and the changes that had occurred after I committed my life to Christ began coming and worshiping together with us. On Christmas, 2008, I received a wonderful Christmas present. My wife’s brother and his wife were people I had attacked and almost beat up and whose vehicle I had pawned to get money for drugs. But on this Christmas day they came to me saying they too wanted to follow Christ, and they wanted to rid their home of the altar for ancestor worship. Oh, how I praise the Lord for His faithfulness and the power He has to change hearts and lives.
The Lord’s saving grace in my life, if measurable, is about the distance between heaven and hell. The day of my physical birth is far less meaningful than that of November 25, 2006— when I committed my life to Christ. Why? Because my biological birth brought “hell” in my family, but after my birth in Christ, my family knew peace and love. In my former way of life I had caused many people in my family pain and suffering, and I had to acknowledge that, and yet every member of my family today praises the Lord for His mercies.
Christ’s love and grace is so awesome in my life that I have committed the rest of my time on earth to ministry for social outcasts, addicts, criminals, and those drifting toward death and who are suffering in this life.
My parents have used their remaining wealth to construct a building, which is used as a place of worship, Bible study, and training. It is also home to many former addicts, thieves, and other criminals who have opened their hearts to Christ, as well as some who have contracted the HIV virus. I do not know how much longer they have to live and or when Christ will take them, but I am certain that they are living the most meaningful days of their lives in the love of Jesus Christ.
My Advice to You
If you ever come across a criminal at war with his or her sin, please don’t feel frightened. Don’t steer away; come close to them. Speak to them about God’s love and how it can change their lives. I know that deep within every sinful person is a longing for love and change. Do this, not so they will thank you, but so they will know God and thank Him for His love and salvation. I know God saved my life, and to Him belongs all the glory!
For anyone seeking relief from addiction, I recommend reading Psalm 51 over and over. Let it become your prayer, and let the tears of sorrow flow. Then memorize Matthew 11:28 before moving on to the four Gospels where you will learn more about the Christ who is able to save.