I’m driving home from work, and an eighteen-wheeler comes across two lanes of traffic and it rear-ends me, slams my car into the guardrail. My seat actually broke off the hinges. The seat belt locked, and my back torqued. I sustained two herniated discs in my back and one in my neck. One was bulging. I went to the doctor, and they said, “It's amazing you made it out of the accident. We’re going to send you home with four things.” I left the hospital with Oxycontin, Valium, Soma, and Percocet [all pain killers].
So here I was, a twenty-two year-old boy, never taken drugs before my life, but I was in pain, so I took the drugs every four to six hours for pain. Well, you know the story. Within three months I'm addicted to pharmaceutical drugs, and I have this insatiable desire to get high. I no longer want to make money. I no longer want to be successful in the world. I no longer want to make a name for myself, as I wanted in the past. I just wanted to get high. The medicine that should last me for thirty days would run out in two weeks. I had to find a way to refill the prescription or to fuel this habit. A guy came up to me and said, “Robby, do you know you can sell those pharmaceutical drugs or make a profit?” I had a business mind from the world, so I took the business mind from the world and brought it into the drug world. I started an illegal import business.
Over the next three years, I imported everything from Ecstasy pills to GHB, to Special K (which is not a cereal), heroin and cocaine. Then all of a sudden this addiction that was just a side thing overwhelmed me. I couldn't control it anymore. Times were good in the beginning. I have to be honest. In 2000 we did what we wanted. We bought we wanted. We flew where we wanted. Then all of a sudden, I brought in that year with a bang. My buddy died of a heroin overdose with the needle still in his arm. From 2000 to 2003 I didn’t lose one or two friends. I lost eight friends to drugs and alcohol related deaths.
In that time, six of my buddies went to jail because the cops were onto the operation. I started to cry out to the Lord. I said, “Ok, God. You’re starting to get my attention.” I wasn't ready to surrender my life to Christ. I started to pay for the addiction with all the money I had, and I didn't have money to pay bills, so the bill collectors continued to call. We live without gas [for heating] for three months in the middle of winter. In the middle of winter, we mastered the art of a cold shower. Basically what we did is this: We would rather take the money and pay for drugs than pay for food or utilities, so we would get into the freezing cold water. No hot air or hot water in the middle of winter, with no gas. We would get under the water, lather up, get out, and then jump back into freezing cold water, and get out. We did that for almost three months. We lived without electricity for a month, without water for a month. Bill collectors called until they turned the phone off.
I decided to take my father's credit card number when he wasn't looking. I memorized his credit card number, and over the next three months I charged over $15,000 on his account. I almost bankrupted the family. I’ll never forget the phone call from my mom. She said, “Robby, we found out what you did. Your father is furious, and I'm disappointed in you. Don't ever come to this house again!” Instead of saying, “Mom, forgive me. I need you to help me.” I said, “You know what? I don't need you, anyway.”
I had a $180.00 a day heroin and cocaine addiction. What that means is this: Everyday I woke up, I needed $180.00 a day to make it. I didn't think about food. I didn’t think about where I was going. I didn’t think about a job. I thought about getting high.
On November 12, 2002, I wasn’t in a church. I wasn’t in a revival service. I was in my room. I remembered what a guy told me in 1995. He’d shared the gospel with me, that I was a sinful man in the face of a Holy God and that I needed my sins forgiven and that I can have access to God through Christ. So I got on my knees, and I said, “God if you’re real, I will surrender my life to you. I'm not playing games with you. I'm not doing it because a friend is doing it. It's a blank check. I'm giving you my life completely. I'm turning from my sin, and I’m trusting that you can save me from the mess I’m in.” I didn't want to live anymore. Those six months livingg up to that decision for Christ, I pushed [away] the envelope of drugs. Every night I went to bed, I said, “God I don't want to live, but let me live through the night, and if I die please take me to heaven.”
On November 12, 2002, I had a radical, *Paul-like, conversion. It was so radical that the next day, after spending twenty-four hours with the Lord, I went to my father, and I said, “Dad, you’re never going to believe this, but God has called me to preach.” The same day He called me to be a believer, He called me to preach. I said, “Dad, God has called me into ministry.” He looked at me and said, “Robby, how in the world are you going to get married by being a priest?” He didn't know any better because we were raised Roman Catholic. I said, “No Dad, not a priest, but a preacher.”
God gave an incredible opportunity to preach. In just a month and a half I preached my first sermon at a homeless shelter. I just shared my testimony. At the end of the testimony I said, “If you would like to know the same God that I know and give your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, I want you to stand.” Seven people that day stood up with tears in their eyes. They said, “We want to know the same God you know.” I left that place, and God said, “This is what you're going to do the rest of your life. You're not going to be in the world. You’re not going to make a lot of money. You’re not going to be successful in the world, by world’s standards. You're going to serve me, live for me, and preach for me as a pastor and preacher.
*Paul-like conversion: According to wikipedia “...the accounts of Paul's conversion experience describe it as miraculous, supernatural, or otherwise revelatory in nature.”