Note to JCW readers: Originally, I wanted to bring this story to you in audio podcast format, however, a difficult phone connection made this very challenging. Instead, I present Brent William's story in a written interview.
Brent Williams hales from Cape Town, South Africa. He is a former methamphetamine addict and an ex gang member. He is, however, so much more that those things. He is the son of a loving mother who risked her own life to see him through those days and journey with him to where he is today. He is also first and foremost a devout Christian. Now a drug counselor, himself, Brent works to help others get off the destructive path that he, himself once walked.
JCW: Brent, describe your life with gang and meth before you handed it over to the Lord.
BW: My life was totally out of control. I was one of the first meth dealers in the area where I live. I got involved in various horrible gang activities and was harming everyone around me. And being on meth and other hard drugs for eight years did not help one bit. I became so dependent on drugs that nothing else mattered to me.
I had been trying for numerous of years to come off from drugs and was struggling all the time. There were times that I would stop for a month, or two months at a time, but then would find myself doing drugs again. After this happened I would go into a pitiful state where I would go on a binge and would wonder how this could happen again. I would condemn myself and would say things like: "Will I DIE doing drugs?"
I became withdrawn from the family and my gang became my life and family. I respected the gang members more than I did my own mother and father. Because I was using so long, I also became psychologically unstable. I would go on all sorts of 'trips'. I always thought that people were out to kill me. I even started to think that the people closest to me wanted to kill me.
JCW: Talk about the day you decided to follow Jesus.
BW: That morning I had broke up with my girlfriend. At this point I had already lost everything that was dear to me; my relationship with my parents, my job that I had, and most of my belongings. Losing my girlfriend - for me - was just the last straw.
So I did what most (if not all) drug addicts do when they are faced with issues and problems in their lives; I ran to drugs. I went on a drug binge and this particular day I was feeling at my lowest. The more drugs I did the more depressed I became.
The drugs were not making the pain go away. It was only making it worse. When evening came and I had had enough of the drugs, I went home and told my mom I was going to commit suicide.
She told me not to talk like that as it was foolish. She told me:"Why don't you give Jesus a chance and He will take away all your problems. I asked "what can Jesus do for me" as I have done so many harmful things to others including my mom.
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
I had nothing to lose and called out on the name of Jesus to help me with my drug addiction. I felt a warmth and love in me that no human could possibly give you and I felt the tangible presence of God. I burst out in tears and commited my life to Christ that evening. The urge and desire to want to do drugs was taken away by the power of Jesus.
JCW: Brent, talk about the transformation – your triumphs and struggles over the past 2 years.
BW: I know that God allowed me to be tested so that I would have a testimony to share with many out there that are still trapped on drugs. I found that everytime I shared my story, healing was taking place within myself. I knew that going back to drugs was not an option for me any longer.
I am presenting hope to a person that is finding himself in a hopeless sitaution. So as long as I am on the face of this earth I will serve Jesus and won't stop spreading the gospel and what Jesus has done in my life.
In terms of the struggles - I have been faced with many tests over the last two years. I realised that I need Jesus Christ every single day of my life. Early this year something happened to me and I thought that it was the end of my walk with Christ. I wondered how God could allow something like this to happpen.
I was thinking I was going to go back to using drugs. But God is faithful. He will allow us to be tested but will always provide a way out. So through all of that I had to trust God with my emotions and had to ask The Holy Spirit to help me.
The word of God also says that what we go through is to shape and mould us and prepare us for the purpose and plans God has for our lives. So I am back on track and can already see how God is working in my life. So, yes, this is a narrow road that I am walking on and it can be difficult at times but i just have put my trust in God.
JCW: Would you talk about your work at the Impact Center?
BW: I am currently a drug counsellor at The Impact Centre. Myself and friend Bradley Niadoo are also running the Daily Drug Programme. This is where recovering addicts come in on a daily basis to break being caught up in the vicious cycle of drugs.
We start our day off with a daily devotion and commit the day to God. We then take a break and they come back for life skills training and then we have reflections of the day and what they have learned.
I am also working in schools where we do in-house counselling with problematic youth who gets sent to us. We also do online counselling and am one of the counsellors on that particular project. I am also very involved in the ministry side of the Centre. I consider everything I do at the Centre ministry.
**You can hear Brent give his testimony courtesy of Impact Direct Ministries Podcast.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I want to thank Brent for sharing his personal story. If you would like to learn more about him you can find him online at his blog. If you are on twitter you can follow Brent and read what he is doing with Impact Center.