My name is James, and I was born in a small town in Ontario, in 1960. I grew up in a violent household. I didn’t know how to deal with what was happening to me, so I looked for acceptance with the wrong crowd and started doing drugs when I was 13. By the time I was 16, I’d been charged with possession of drugs.

I quit school when I was 17 and moved to Calgary where I partied nonstop and began dealing drugs for a biker gang.

I got married at 22 and drew my wife into the partying life. We had two children, and they bore the brunt of our destructive lifestyle.

At 26, I went to jail for two years for conspiracy to sell cocaine. During my first year in jail I continued to sell drugs. My marriage was very strained. I became depressed and I even attempted suicide.

After my attempt failed, I looked for answers in the prison chapel. There, I found peace for the first time and gave my life to God.

After my release, I returned to my family, but my resolve to live a healthy life didn’t last long. My choices led to chaos. I lost my relationships with my wife and children, and turned my back on God, returning to jail several times.

On April 6th 2011, my 51st birthday, I woke up in the crack house I had been calling home. I wasn’t living the life I wanted to live. I didn’t want to hurt my kids anymore and I wanted to be a part of their lives. I checked myself into a hospital to get clean.

Upon my release, I had nowhere to go. I stayed at a shelter where I met four young pastors. We talked all through the night about faith and they inspired me to join a recovery program at the Calgary Dream Centre.

The Dream Centre was amazing, full of people challenging me to take steps towards the life I wanted. I felt accepted and valued. I started going to church in the building, recommitted my life to God and started rebuilding my family.

Since graduating from the Calgary Dream Centre, I have completed my studies in biblical theology. I’m now an assistant pastor at a church in west Calgary where I use my testimony to inspire others. I’ve mended my relationships with my kids and now get to experience the beautiful life God has for me. I cannot believe how blessed I am—after all the years of struggling—to get to be a father and grandfather. I am so thankful for the Calgary Dream Centre and the life change I experienced there.