HL Chaplain describes how God rescues him from Insanity to Salvation

Hello everyone, my name is John Dewsbury, and for the past 17 years, I have been “kicking around” the Salvation Army. As I approach my 15th year as an employee, I reflect on the winding path that led me here to Harbour Light—a path marked by struggle, redemption, and faith. Here is a snapshot of my story:

I was born into this world under difficult circumstances and due to this I grew up vulnerable and unsure. A troubled childhood fueled a rebellious youth, which led to multiple incarcerations at an early age and to a very destructive lifestyle.

I can recall vividly the times in my life when things seemed hopeless and there did not seem to be an answer for the hurt. I was too broken to care, and I had done too much damage, and I lost all sense of dignity for myself and for others. Due to my addiction, I could not trust anyone nor was I capable of being trusted. I would often go against my deep inner beliefs and values to appease the desperate need for a drug or an escape.

Locked in a prison of shame and guilt, I began to believe that my destiny was to suffer. Drugs became my only comfort and my temporary relief from the pain and desperation consuming me. The cycle was relentless though: from pain, to relief, and then back to despair repeatedly. But… unseen by my broken eyes, little did I know; God had a different plan for me. God was going to rescue me from the insanity. I would be saved when I could not save myself.

God intervened with an unexpected message, a message of hope and forgiveness (which I had little of). I heard a person in a treatment center share a message about the cross of Christ and the forgiveness found in Jesus. How they had been “set free” from a life of shame and guilt. Could this be true… something unexpected started to stir inside me. There was an invitation given and a prayer said, as I bowed my head and followed along (not really knowing what I was doing) something touched me deep within that I could not deny. All I knew was that something happened and this something was God.

But… there is always a but! Even with this experience/conversion, I still needed significant help with my addiction, and I began the long road of recovery. By the grace of God, when I was finally ready, I went to a treatment facility called Miracle Valley in Mission run by The Salvation Army and thus began my connection to the Salvation Army and continues here at Harbour Light today.

What recovery has given me is hard to sum up in a snapshot… I will just say, the desperation that once consumed me has been replaced, replaced by a peace… a peace not found in this world but in God (John 14:27). Experiencing the freedom found in admitting my powerlessness and believing in a Power greater than ourselves (step 1&2 in 12 steps recovery program) was and is a life-changing experience, especially during the challenging journey of substance recovery. Embracing God’s presence provides not only comfort but also a sense of guidance and purpose. It’s like having a constant companion on the road to recovery, which can often feel lonely and challenging. With God, all things are possible (Philippians 4:13), and every step forward is filled with hope and every setback is met with unwavering Grace and support. It’s about learning to let go of past burdens and trusting in a higher power to lead the way to healing and renewal.

This is what guides me as a Harbour Light Chaplain and what I hope to bring to work with me on a consistent basis.

Thank you, Harbour Light, for all that you do. Amen and God bless.

— John Dewsbury, VHL Caseworker/Chaplain

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