Hello everyone! Here below, you can read the story of my conversion to Christ. I was struggling with drug addiction and the wrong style of life, but one day God, by His mercy, delivered me. At the age of 17, I was admitted to a Christian-based rehab called “Reto” which is situated in Italy. There is where I first heard the gospel and read the Bible. The good news made an impact on my life, and I changed. Today I still volunteer in the same place, trying to approach people with the same problems as mine in the past. It is all because of God’s mercies, and all the glory goes to Him!
This message is directed to everyone who is found in a similar situation, as well as to those who are not, as I think that each person has a need for God.
I will tell you a part of my story. What is important in this story is not actually me but what happened to me and what made me well. This is a story with a good ending because whenever God is involved in a story, there is a good ending, even if there are plenty of obstacles and some failures throughout it. Still, God knows how to make a beauty out of the ashes.
I was an ordinary boy like any other and sometimes even had more than the rest of my peers had, as my parents always provided for me what I needed. I studied well at school, did all my homework, and listened to my parents. I had everything and didn’t lack anything. However, there was an emptiness in me, and I didn’t know how to fill it properly. I played with other kids, practiced sports, and had almost all of the video games available then, but I still wanted something more from life. I desired to be different from the rest of the people and, in this way, to attract other people’s attention and feel important. I started to get bored too with my lifestyle as a good student at school. I thought this wasn’t cool, and I was a loser if I had to carry on the same way. Slowly I started to change my surroundings and friends. I started getting together with all the notorious guys from my school. In this way, my lifestyle started changing as I started going to parties, discos, and all the activities of that kind. Obviously, all the stuff accompanying these activities came along. I started smoking and drinking regularly. I was only 13 when this happened. Soon this wasn’t enough for me, and I wanted even to go deeper than my friends. At the age of 14, I started smoking marijuana. I quickly embraced it, and only after three months I started buying bigger quantities with the purpose of selling them. This was again a way in which I could have appeared as someone more special and distinctive than others. From just smoking marijuana, I went on harder drugs such as ecstasy, tranquilizers, and eventually heroin. At the age of 16, I tried almost all kinds of substances available at that time. I started having issues with the police too. All of this brought problems with the school I was attending, and in two years, I changed four schools. Not to think that in previous years, I was seen as an excellent example to other students for my good votes and efforts when studying. With time, things got worse, and I started having serious issues with my surroundings, with my friends who eventually left me on my own, and with my parents, which I kept on hurting. I got almost everything this kind of life could have given me in a short time. In the end, I couldn’t fill myself the way I thought it would happen. Things just got worse and out of hand. I started feeling the void in me stronger and stronger. At the age of 17, I was feeling empty and emotionally destroyed. My parents spoke to me for a long time to go to some rehabilitation program to seek help, but I always denied it as I thought this wasn’t for me and that I would find a way to manage the situation. One day I felt so down that I couldn’t handle it anymore and agreed to go to the place they spoke about. I remember meeting with someone to interview me and talk to me about the place where I was going to be admitted. I didn’t care much, so I barely remember what they told me. After a while, I was accepted into the program.
I am originally from Bulgaria, but the rehabilitation place I was admitted to, was in Italy. This made it just harder for me, and I didn’t manage to understand many of the things the people were trying to explain while guiding me through the program. I understood that the center was Christian because the people there had the Bible as their main literature. It was a Christian-based rehabilitation center and community. It was formed by volunteers who in the past had experiences with the wrong style of life and addictions. They had experienced deliverance by faith in God. Most of the people, however, with myself in that number, were there just because of the program they were undergoing. Many of the rules as well were based on the Bible. All of this was too much for me, and I was also contrary as the religion I grew up with was different. The religion I was brought up with was Christian Orthodox (even though I wasn’t following it properly), and it was different from the one they presented to me, which was based entirely on the Bible. I also saw that it was taken quite seriously, and I wasn’t used to that. The message delivered in the services was in Italian, and I couldn’t also get much of it. I wasn’t actually listening at all.
Along with all of that, my state wasn’t getting better. I kept on feeling empty and depressed. I remember that I recovered physically, but on the inside, I was the same, still desperate. I also still desired to keep on with my old style of life with drugs and everything else I was used to. I didn’t want to change. I didn’t find a proper motivation for it.
With all of this came along some issues I was experiencing with the rules of the center and the leaders there. Some people initially wanted to help me, but with time most of them withdrew as they saw that I wasn’t changing. I am sure though, that there were still people praying for me at that time and trying to make an impact. All these issues and problems made me feel weak and hopeless. This pushed me to ask God for help. I didn’t know how to pray, and neither someone showed me how, but I remember that in the darkest moments, I was going through, I used to speak with God and tell Him about my situation. I also started reading the New Testament again. I am saying that I started reading it again because the first time someone handed it to me, I read it for about a week like any other ordinary book, and then I just left it aside. Although I didn’t agree with the way the people believed there, I started looking for help from God when I had moments by myself. I don’t remember the exact way, but slowly the words I was reading in the Bible started taking life and speaking to me.
Initially, I thought this was happening by chance, but then as it started to occur more often, I understood that this was more than an ordinary book, and it helped me believe in God. I saw the very situations and moments I was going through written there. I started seeing and perceiving some outer power, something much higher than me, and it was real. The key moment was when God convinced me of my sins, and I managed to really repent in front of Him by His mercy. Since that moment, my life has started to change. I remember the service we had at the time I repented. I don’t remember the message; I just remember that we bowed our heads in prayer and I don’t know if I started to pray or not, but all of a sudden all my life and wrongs came in front of me as a film and something convinced me that what I had done was wrong and I felt very displeased. Then I started asking God for forgiveness with tears in my eyes. I remember that when we finished the meeting, my eyes were still wet, but I was happy. It started with deep sorrow, but it ended with joy. All of this happened in such a natural way!
You have to know that before this happened, I had never realized that my lifestyle was wrong. My plan was to be in the place for some 4-6 months to please my parents and then to come back and carry on with the drugs and my old style of life but doing it in a more clever way. That was the mindset I was having. When God convinced me of sin, I was convinced more than anything else that the way I was living and hurting other people was wrong. Then I repented of the wrong I had done to other people, and not only of the substances I was using. Those weren’t the main things I had to repent from. After this, I also understood that substance usage wasn’t right because it was wrong in front of God, and it was damaging me.
I am saying this because many people want to fight their problems and issues with addictions, but sometimes they focus only on them, when the main problem is what stays behind them; this is our sin in general. All people need Jesus, not only those who struggle with addictions and an evident wrong style of life. The wrong style of life, however, is a matter of choice. Each one needs to face the own consequences of his own choices.
What was funny in all of this was that I didn’t manage to understand any word in the church services I attended before I converted. This was obviously because the language in which they preached in the services was Italian, and I didn’t quite understand it because there were only a few months that I was in the country, and neither did I have the desire to learn it. When I received forgiveness and felt God’s presence, I didn’t even know if any other person had felt the same. After that, I started to feel much better anyway. The hopelessness disappeared from my life, and everything that used to be black and white in my life, got colored and filled with hope all of a sudden. Not long after this, people started to see the change in me, even if I wasn’t purposely showing it. I began to desire to learn Italian, and in this way, I slowly started to understand what they spoke about in the services. Everything I heard in those services was a confirmation that what I felt was felt by other believers too, and this convinced me more about the Christian doctrine, the importance of the Bible, and the reliability of the place I was in. After a time, I could look back at this situation and see that weren’t people or human intervention to convince me of the truth of God and the Bible, but God Himself through His Spirit. Today I don’t underestimate the fact that also persons can be involved in someone’s conversion, however, because I know that God also uses people to perform His work. What happened to me was my own experience because I probably needed this direct experience with God as I was pretty skeptical toward people then. I probably wasn’t going to accept the message firsthand from them. Each person is different, however, and God best knows how to approach each person. I also saw that not all of the people in the church lived accordingly and were true believers, but few of them, and this also convinced me of the truth of the Word as He says in His Word that those saved are few. This made me feel privileged to be a believer.
Things changed after that. I received hope in my life. Finally, the void I had in my life was filled, and I had a purpose. That was knowing God. I think this is the main purpose that everyone needs to have in his life, besides all the other activities he is busy with. People around me could see the change, even if I wasn’t showing them purposely that. I decided to stay a bit longer in the place to focus more on knowing God.
The desires I had before about the wrong style of life disappeared and were replaced with the desire to share the good news of the gospel. Something that no one was telling me to do, but I was doing because what happened to me was so real. I don’t consider myself as a religious person or someone who follows certain rituals to be at peace with himself. I am just expressing myself about what helped me, and I think that can help others too.
I was finally convinced that my old style of life and the drugs were wrong. More than anything because they were wrong in front of God. So, in consequence of knowing God and changing my life, I managed to quit drugs. Something that I doubt I was going to do in any other way at that time. I am saying this because I know myself and the mindset I was having at that age. He helped me in many areas of my life and not only about the issues with drugs. I never approached God because of these issues only, but because of my life in general, the need I was having, and because something convinced me that I had to repent. That was His Spirit. After the change I experienced, I also understood that the lifestyle I was having in general with the drugs was wrong. My repentance, however, involved many things, not only that single thing.
Sometime later, God made me understand that I had to remain in the place as a volunteer to attend to the new people who were frequently coming. I had a desire to share what I had received. This came so naturally. See, someone in today’s days will admire people that volunteer and give out of their free time to others with the purpose of helping them, but in my case, it wasn’t because I am a good man or I wanted to feel good by helping the others, but because God had placed that desire in me. I felt I needed to serve the One who delivered me and love Him because He loved me first. I am telling you this story today to let you know that there is a solution, no matter your situation. God is attending you with open arms. We just need to come to the realization of our need and situation.