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Joel Lindsey: From Drugs to Ministry

SPECIAL TO GANNETT FLORIDA
Washington County News

HOLMES COUNTY – A vital component of combating the presence of drugs in our community is understanding that behind every drug arrest is a story - a story of someone who has lost their way and a family that has been torn apart by addiction.

Sheriff John Tate’s focus on assisting those struggling with addiction to find lasting recovery is just one step in healing families and giving those stories a chance to have a happy ending. Arrest itself is not an ending. Instead, it can be a new beginning.

Each month, we share a story from individuals who have successfully completed a drug rehabilitative program through the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and are now enjoying a new, fulfilled life of recovery.

Their journey. Their words. A message of hope for us all.

This month’s “Spotlight on Recovery” story comes from Joel Lindsey:

“I started using heroin and meth at a very young age as a way to cope with the pain I felt from my father’s death and the abandonment I felt when my stepdad left.

I felt I had no one I could trust, no one to turn to, and no one who cared.

I became a thief and a liar. I cared for no one and pushed those closest to me away. I was an angry, hurt kid growing up too quickly. Once I turned 18, I became worse. I began robbing people to get high and started hanging out with some guys who would pay me with meth to rob people.

In 2017, I was homeless and strung out on meth and heroine, which I used intravenously. I wanted a quick high and knew how to get it. I broke into a home my grandparents owned and stole a TV to trade for meth. I was arrested for grand theft and burglary of a dwelling.

I was sentenced to a one-year residential program called Cross Training Ministries where I learned who Jesus really is. I asked Jesus into my heart and became saved. In doing so, I began to be shown by the Lord not just how much pain I had, but also how much pain I had been causing. I didn’t like having to look at myself in the new way, so the first chance I got, I ran and tried to go back to coping with the pain the only way I knew how -with a needle.

I became worse in addiction than what I had been before and was more miserable than I had ever been. Once again, I was on the run from the law, paranoid, and had no one. After a few months of this, I began praying and asking God what I should do.

He answered in the form of a friend. I received a message on Facebook from Seth Parrish, a staff member at Cross Training, asking me how I was and telling me to get some help. Soon after, I was arrested for my warrants. I was in jail, but I had peace. I made a commitment to God that if He gave me another chance to return to Cross Training, I would never leave His will for me again.

Now I can truly say I am blessed. God has given me my family back, a new family here at Cross Training, and a new passion in life: helping others. I’ve committed to do Staff Training at this program and help others like me learn about Christ and the grace He offers. After feeling so lonely and abandoned, He has blessed me with a family that is bigger than I could have ever hope for and has restored my family that I threw away.

By remaining obedient to His will for, my life He has blessed me with more than I ever wanted.

Now I am giving back, allowing Him to use me as an example for the men around me. I currently run the program dorm for Cross Training and will start Staff Training this fall.“