My name is J P Hines, I am clean from all mind altering substances. I have been labeled and scarred, but never more able. My identity in Jesus Christ is what defines me today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my days. I have been radically changed and recreated! It’s truly a blessing and a miracle! I now live in a vital union of new order with the only master of all- the spotless King of Kings!
I am flattered and honored to have been asked to share my testimony with Lighthouse Church in Glen Burnie, MD and with the world through Coffee Talk with Caylee.
WE ARE ALL PRODUCTS OF OUR ENVIRONMENT
When I look back, I really didn’t have a ‘bad’ childhood. In my young eyes I didn’t know any other way of life, so, how would I have known then what was bad and what was good? The basic necessities were provided, and because it was all I knew, that’s all that mattered. We are all products of our environment. Who you are when you grow up is a product of what you’ve learned and seen growing up. And this isn’t always a good thing.My identity in Jesus Christ is what defines me today, tomorrow, and for the rest of my days.Click To Tweet
My parents were never married, I guess my father felt an obligation to live with my mother since she was pregnant with me and born in 1961. With three other kids from a very abusive marriage prior to meeting my father, they tried to make it work as a blended family. By the time I was the age of seven, their relationship was over. With my father gone, not able to provide for me and the family, my mother was gone often as well. Working hard, playing. All I know is she did the best she could. We moved often due to evictions from one rental to the next. With financial struggles mounting, my siblings suffered the most. My older sisters were placed in two separate foster care families, one in North Carolina and the other in Virginia. My brother, was four years older than I, was extremely bright and, from my eyes, could do anything he wanted. When my mom could not give him all he wanted he moved out, and started dealing drugs. It was all we knew.
There really wasn’t much of a foundation of stability in our home. I ended up attending eleven elementary schools. I hated it. It really affected my learning ability and focus. I was often told I was dumb, slow, and not very smart. It was hard always being the “new kid” and I was often picked on because of this. I remember being called many nasty names that at the time really made me view myself from a lens of “never good enough”. I laugh about it now, but to a kid who was already very sensitive to life it hurt deep to the core.. I got tired of it and started fighting back. By doing so, I became the badkid. I couldn’t win. I just didn’t want to let anyone bully me. It seemed like confrontation was my middle name, and I didn’t run away from it, but welcomed it instead.
NOTHING SEEMED TO SATISFY MY “HAPPY BUTTON”
My first experience with opiates came from a life threatening accident during 3rd grade. I was crushed by a trash dumpster when a cable broke, spending weeks in recovery with head trauma. I started using drugs in 5th grade, Spring of 1971. I was interested in putting car models together and for that you needed glue, not ‘elmers’ either. The smell of the glue made me dizzy, and that was the root that invited my addiction to take hold. Before 6th grade I had experimented with marijuana and alcohol. By the time I was in 8th grade I had tried LSD, and PCP, but nothing seemed to satisfy my “happy button”. I had become a child fueled by anger always on guard for a fight, and fight I did.
I’d always had a love of football. In 8th grade, I was able to sign up for a boys club team. I thought I had found my answer to a fulfilling life. I could finally hit somebody, and release all my bottled up anger, legally without getting into trouble. What a deal! I continued using recreationally on weekends or whenever it was available to me. By the time I reached high school it was a weekend thing only. I played high school football and did really well. I was told by many teachers and guidance counselors I would never be smart enough to attend college. Their opinions guided my choices, and my inner dialogue believed every bit of it. By this time My mom had married, and my father had married too. Unfortunately not each other. By the time I was in 11th grade, I had 1 half-brother, 4 half-sisters, and 7 step sisters and then there was me, the only one between my mom and my dad in this so called “family”.
When I graduated from high school in 1979, the best decision I ever made for myself was enlisting in the United States Marine Corps. I excelled in the Marine Corp, I loved the Corp. Every school I attended, I finished first in my class but I was afraid to fail. I didn’t want to disappoint my squadron commander or Top. It was legal to drink at 18 and boy did I. It was party central every weekend. Even though I was consuming I tried really hard to stay in shape. Looking back now it’s no wonder I couldn’t improve as an athlete, I was drinking alcohol all the time. I ended up trying out for the Marine Corp Aviation football program. It was a team that traveled and played small colleges, Police academies, and many other teams throughout the east coast. We would fly in helicopters to and from away games. Many athletes on the team told me I had a gift to play. I never thought so. Being told I was “too small, slow, dumb, and no way you can attend college.” I just knew that wasn’t an option.
In 1983, I had to make a decision either stay in the Marine Corp or get out. I decided to get out. I started working immediately at Dyna Electron Aerospace Tech. in Patuxent River, Maryland as a Helicopter mechanic/crew chief. It was a great job. At this point in my life, I was still drinking heavily, and started free base cocaine. Today this is commonly known as ‘crack’. I didn’t use this drug long however, it was too expensive for my taste, but if there was a ride….I was on it! In April, 1985 I started a new job working as a phase inspector on T-33 trainers at Andrews Airforce base. I was working full-time with the D.C. Air National Guard. I was still using drugs on weekends or whenever it was time to party. I couldn’t keep a girlfriend. As a matter of fact, every girlfriend I had told me I had a drug problem, and of course my reaction was denial.
I WAS STILL STRUGGLING WITH MYSELF
It was then that I received a phone call from an officer from the Marines that I had played football with, who himself played at Arkansas State, and the Cleveland Browns, he asked me what I was doing wasting my youth not playing college football. I must say, that phone call was a turning point for me. It was August of 1985; I resigned from the National Guard with permission. I traded my brand new car to a friend for his 1976 240z. I packed one small suitcase, and left Maryland and headed to Kansas. I ended up on a full scholarship playing for the University of Northern Iowa. I was married, with child, worked as a bouncer, in the Reserves, taking 15 to 18 credits a semester, playing college football, and somehow still manage to find time to party. I continued to consume, destroying my relationship with my wife, cheating, arguing, fighting, and doing what all self-centered non spiritual people do…live for them. I was a narcissistic, egotistical jerk that cared for nobody but himself!
I graduated college! A day I never thought would be part of my story. This dumb, stupid, slow, never can go to college kid just what everyone said he couldn’t. We moved to Kansas in May 1988. I started coaching at the junior college and was student teaching. Man, I had never thought I’d be a teacher, let alone try to coach! I actually found something I really enjoyed. Helping young people just like me. My relationship with my wife never grew in the positive direction only because of me. I was still struggling with myself. I had so much anger; hate, resentment, hurtful pain within and I just didn’t know what the answer was or where to find it. I tried so hard to be a good husband and father, but failed miserably at it. I went to church and Pastor Tim tried to help me with my issues, but it never worked. I was loved by so many people in Kansas but I refused to accept the love.
I continued my education at Wichita State University and got my masters in exercise physiology in 1993. By this time I was so jacked up. My best friend and closest person I ever had to a brother was killed in a helicopter crash near the Canary Islands November 4, 1992. This was another great loss to my already tattered soul. My wife and I had two beautiful children, and her family treated me as if I was their own. The “beast” just wouldn’t let go of me. I continued to use drugs and we would continue fighting. There was much mental abuse given to my wife, and I regret every bit of my past behavior. I ended up filing for divorce in 1992. At the time, I thought it was the best decision. I gave my wife every physical possession we owned. Never realizing the devastation I would cause with her heart and our daughters. I just thought, I made it, they’ll be ok. Another selfish decision. Not knowing what changes would take place; I ended up moving to Maryland in 1996.
I lived on Kent Island with my father and my sister, substitute teaching at Meade High. By August, 1997, I applied for a teaching position at Arundel Sr. I was teaching, coaching football, and indoor track. At the end of the year 1998, there was a P.E. teaching and head football coaching position opening at Severna Park High. I applied and got it. At the same time I was working at a bar 3 nights a week and consuming anything and everything. My introduction to pain pills started in 2000 at the bar I was working at. The next thing I know I’m scheduling an appointment to a doctor for my back problems. I thought alcohol was my poison, until this introduction of “candy”, Heroin became my best friend.
Working at the bar, I meet my wife Shanna. We became great friends but I wasn’t looking for a relationship, At the time, neither of us was. Next thing I know, we’re dating, and within less than a week I received a phone call that rocked my world in the worst way. My father had become sober in 1985, and we regained a special relationship as adults. He tried hard to guide me into cleaning up my issues with drugs, but I continued to ignore his well-intended advice. He passed away Oct. 26, 2000 from a brain aneurysm, with Shanna and I at his bedside. Two months later I asked Shanna to marry me. Never had I ever thought I’d get married again. But, on Dec 26, 2001 we did just that. I was in love but was still using. By 2005, my wife became pregnant and I was asked to stop drinking, and I said I would, fooling not only her, but myself yet again. I continued to spiral out of control. In the winter of 2010 we separated.
In June, 2011, I resigned from coaching football, not because I wanted to but because I was told to or I’d be fired. I also lost my department chair position. Now, I was just Coach. I was no longer a leader, somebody the kids looked up to. Eleanor Roosevelt said “when you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.” I actually felt like I had lost my contribution and it was the beginning of the end for me when the new school year came up in August. Drugs ruined everything for me. In early July, while we were separated and she feared for my life… Shanna and family held an intervention and asked me to go to rehab. I did not hesitate, knowing I was on the brink of destruction yet again, I surrendered and left that day. My wife has always been in my corner, no matter what! I cannot begin to express what hope that gave me in the moment, I set off again in the general direction of recovery and with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, I was still carrying a very angry, broken, and lost soul.
I went to rehab in July 2011, clean for 30 days. Woohoo. As soon as I arrived home from New Jersey where I was in rehab, I stayed clean for 7 days. But it wasn’t long before hopping back on the track I was. It was “man, I’ll only do a couple pills” and it turned into an uncontrollable behavior all over again. By 2017, I had lost 55 pounds, and looked like I was dying. But, I lied to my wife, “no honey, I’m just not working out with weights anymore, I’m just running” I had used up my savings, no more savings deposit either, and my debit card didn’t exist. My wife knew something was going on, I was taking her money she earned from working so hard, and I lied, over and over again. She started seeing things disappear and she was right, she was always right.Eleanor Roosevelt said “when you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”Click To Tweet
On February 15, 2017 I was desperate, having withdrawals at work, and no money. I did the worst thing I could have ever done, I stole money from a student and got caught. I had ruined the career I’d worked 27 years to build in a matter of seconds, went to jail, was on the front page news, on every news channel, and back off to rehab. I’d never realized how blown up my addiction had become and how many people it was affecting, especially my family.
On my way to rehab February 16, 2017 it’s 9a.m. saying goodbye to my wife. Seeing her so upset, I thought my world and life with her and our daughter was over! Yet, knowing how bad I was, and all that I was losing, I still went downtown to try to cope on my way to rehab in New Jersey. I, wanting nothing but an easy way out of this world, bought 13 caps of fentanyl and had all 13 consumed within an hour and a half before opening the front door to the facility. When my blood was drawn, the nurse said I had fentanyl and cocaine in my blood, and with the toxic levels of fentanyl in my system…the cocaine was likely the only thing that kept my heart beating. But it wasn’t the cocaine that kept me alive. God knew I was ripe for the harvest and my heart was beating based on His grace alone. He had plans for this lost sheep.
So, I’m in rehab. Feeling so sick from withdrawing. At 55 years of age, it was the hardest 30 days of life I’ve ever felt. Changing my shirt three times a night from sweat, trying to sleep, only to get in maybe 2 hours a night, not being able to eat, always having to go to the bathroom, so, irritated with everything and everybody, chills on your skin, always cold, and not able to sit still for 5 minutes, body aching non-stop. I’ll never forget that feeling as long as I live. It’s a reminder of what it’ll be like if I return to the darkness. I never want to forget that feeling of emptiness and brokenness.
MY LIFE WAS ABOUT TO MAKE A TURN FOR THE BETTER
While I was absent, working of fixing myself, my wife and youngest daughter were searching for a port in the storm I’d caused them. The first weekend they were left alone, my wife made a desperate reach for anything meaningful… and happened to attend Lighthouse church during Week 1 of the sermon series “Fool Proof”- 31 days of Proverbs to keep you from acting a fool. So, she bought the book and dropped it in the mail that day. When I received this book at rehab, my life was changed in the most radical way. As I’m sitting on my bed reading this book, and I get to day 13 ‘fools companion’ on page 57, and at the bottom of the page Sammy writes about his heroin addiction. I had to read it again, and one more time. I began to cry so hard, and I could not stop. I really believe with all my heart God used Pastor Sammy Foster to save my life. I stopped reading and broke out some paper and began to write to this man, whom I’d never met or known, a letter about this jacked up, banged up ‘ole man trying come to grips with addiction. After I wrote this letter to Mr. Foster, I picked up the book and finished the chapter, and at the end the scripture read ‘the righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray’ Proverbs 12:26 I felt God like a lightning bolt striking me at that very second. My life was about to make a turn for the better.
So when I got out of rehab, and headed to Easton, Md. I planned to live in a halfway house. There are three spiritual principles in the NA book. Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. Well, I struggled with open-mindedness because it was a new way of life living with three other dudes, dealing with roaches in the bathroom, and the kitchen, having to cook yourself etc. I was quickly reminded of my childhood life dealing with the roaches and feeling all alone. How fast one can forget how great life can be. I was willing to do whatever it would take to earn my way back to my family. I never complained, I just did what I had to do. Meetings, therapy, an Intensive Outpatient program, home group, sponsor, etc. After a month, it was time to come home; we just couldn’t afford the extra 1000 a month debt this had caused.
It’s April 27, 2017 and my mind is heavy at court in the process of going to jail for 18 months and a fine of $5,000. God is so Great! Just as I think I’m about to spend the next chunk of my life in jail, the Lord had a different plan. The judge gave me no court fines, no court fees, dropped all charges, and gave me one year unsupervised probation. Praise be to God!I refuse to let a challenge become my excuse!Click To Tweet
We started attending Lighthouse church as a family. The minute I walked in to the church I felt so much love. Listening to the Pastors, Sammy, John, or Steve, my life began to transform. Yes, I found my home, my meaning, my purpose with the Lord. Since coming to Lighthouse my life has turned around 180 degrees from what it was. I truly have been recreated, resurrected, and made new. We were baptized as a family August 26th 2017. Blessed by His amazing grace. I’ve never felt so free inside my soul. How I used to struggle with just getting up and dealing with me, let alone anybody else, there is no longer any darkness, hurts, hangups, addiction, and I will never take for granted what the Lord has given to me. My life is different and it’s all because of God’s grace and mercy. I may not coach football anymore, but I’m still coaching, this time for Jesus!
At 56 years young, I refuse to let a challenge become my excuse. These fingerprints have so much to give, to love, to be the messenger for Jesus, the Christ. Jesus will personally and fully equip me, to make an impact, regardless of my ability! I have given my life to Jesus Christ and have never felt so free. God has poured the Holy Spirit in my broken heart and renewed this soul! Thank God for his Grace and Mercy, and for Lighthouse Church, which led us to Jesus who saved my family, and me.
~ J P HinesFind out how Jesus saved this man's life!Click To Tweet