In December of 2005 I hit rock bottom. My company had been shut down by the government. I was up on charges of bribery and headed for a 21-month sentence in federal prison. I felt like life was over. Knowing that an appeal verdict in my favor was unlikely, I'd resigned myself to sitting in a chair, soaked in alcohol and regret while my wife and kids suffered the consequences. I'd been front page worthy news for a solid four months. We were all embarrassed, defeated and scared.
A Pastor named Dennis Newman called me one afternoon during my self-destructive stupor. He had been publically ridiculed for “immoral" behavior and forced to resign from the church and congregation he'd loved. He knew the pain I was in from making a dire mistake, and he spoke to me from the deep ends of someone who could relate; someone imperfect like I was. After hours on the phone he eventually convinced me to try his new church. I hadn't been out of the house in three months.
It's difficult to sum up all that Dennis did for me that day. He'd reached through his own pain and showed me love when others could not. I began spending a lot of time contemplating who I'd become, what I needed to change and what was really important to me in the days thereafter. The more time I spent becoming self-aware, talking to Dennis and attending his church, the lighter the darkness became. I made a promise to myself, my family and to God that I would no longer be the man I had been. Dennis showed me my next step. Although there was still a lot of work to do, I knew what had to be done and after that, how I was to pay it forward.
It was almost unheard of in federal court for a decision to be reversed on appeal but in September of 2007 they did. Maybe in my prayers God heard of my intent and decided to trust me. Maybe it was good lawyering or a combination of both, but in the end the federal courts decided we hadn't actually broken any laws and they reversed the decision. Thanks to Dennis, I knew where I was going from there. My next step was to show God and love to people like me when they need it the most; to break down the walls they've spent a lifetime building to shield their hearts from pain. and reach into their hearts so they can see some light in their lives.