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PAUL LOOKS TO FULFILL COMMITMENT HE MADE TO GOD LAST YEAR
At 45, Paul is already a proud grandfather to two boys after becoming a father to two girls before he was 18. Paul met his wife in high school—they married after she became pregnant. “I was really young when I had my first daughter,” he said. “I was just a kid having a kid.
“I came from a traditional Catholic family, but my aunt introduced me to Christianity. I went to church and became a Christian. I was doing the right thing as a young kid with a family.”
The couple had another daughter and were together for several years before divorcing in 2000. Paul became a journeyman sheet metal worker and also worked in the car business for 20 years. “Throughout the years, I’d be going through this or that, and God would call me. He’d say, ‘Paul, when are you going to come back to me?’”
Five years ago Paul left his job to “follow God in a full-time way,” he said. “I was looking into schools, going to church, trying to study God in the right ways. Trying to be a Christian in this cruel world is really tough.”
Paul opened a small business and started getting closer to God. He spoke to a man about his desire to study God more intensively and was told about Teen Challenge. “I wanted to go, but I thought it was a program only for people with addictions,” Paul said. “He told me it wasn’t and we prayed together.”
Paul signed up, and said that after hearing all the stories shared, he realized he had an alcohol addiction. “I didn’t drink all the time, and some of the others, they were talking about doing hardcore drugs and alcohol. I think I was going that way. I thanked God that I saw this—I needed to hear all of this. I saw how bad they were. I don’t consider myself better or less than—we all come here for help and God doesn’t see big things or small, even addiction. God wants us to see everyone as souls, so we can see them as Jesus Christ saw everybody else.”
Two months into the Teen Challenge program, Paul had to leave. “My family told me cancer had been found in my grandfather’s stomach,” he said. “There are rules about leaving, but I needed to see him. They were flying him to California for chemotherapy. I knew if I left, I wouldn’t be able to come back.”
Paul had made a 12-month commitment to the program—really to God, he said—and felt he needed to honor that. He learned about Renewed Hope through church, and after spending some time with his grandfather, Paul entered the program. “I truly believe God has put me in this place for a reason,” he said. “I am glorifying him every single day, helping others be humble, learning how to respect authority and being obedient to God.
“As soon as I admitted I had a problem and I needed to be here, miracles started happening in my life. My oldest daughter is getting closer to God now—she’s reading the Bible to my grandson.”
Paul said going back to his old life is not an option again. “The program, the steps—it works. It is working. Now I understand what I have to do. I’m fulfilling what God wants me to do in my life—work for him, his ministry. It’s incredible and unbelievable, letting the Holy Spirit lead me to where he wants me to be.”
Paul said he enjoyed studying the Bible, going to church, and helping at outreaches to those experiencing homelessness, but ended up leaving the program. “We can all have plans,” he said. “I’ve done it before. I’ve said, ‘God I got this.’ I want to get an education and see what ministry God wants me in. But we’ll see where God leads me. I’m excited to see all of this come to life.”
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