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Dean's Story

I was raised in a small community in northern Alberta. There were moments of family unity and I can remember happiness, at times. I believe that we all wanted to have good lives, but my parents had a cycle of binge drinking and in those times there was extreme violence. Sometimes my mother would leave my dad, take my two sisters and me, and live with another man where my sisters and I continued to be exposed to violence, alcohol abuse, and sexual immorality.

One of my best friends also had alcoholic parents. We spent a lot of time together, and became involved in vandalism and trouble with the law. Experimenting with alcohol from an early age, I had my first blackout experience at the age of 12. This was also the year that my mother informed me that my dad was not my real father. All my life, she had been keeping the secret that I had been conceived in an affair she’d had. At home my abusive step-father projected his alcoholic anger on our family, being verbally abusive and also physically abusive to my mother.

My drinking continued and hangovers became more severe. I spent several nights in the drunk-tank; on one occasion I got out of jail in the morning and walked across the street to go to school. Finally, I was suspended from high school for being drunk and then was permanently expelled the next time. Depression intensified when I was also kicked off of our community hockey team as I came off of a one-week drinking binge. As I lay in bed, very sick, I could hear my parents hollering and fighting through the night. Finally, as the sun was coming up, I told myself that this was all I could expect in my future as this was the only life I had ever known. I honestly thought that was how life was! I attempted suicide that night. While I spent some time in the hospital, the doctor asked me if everything was okay at home. I answered him in a surprised way stating that of course everything was okay; I guess I know today that I was in a lot of denial.

After that, I tried to get back to work and reestablished. But within a couple of years my drinking binges had become more intense and my recovery time grew longer. I was in trouble at work, financially, and relationally. In my depression I tried to roll my sports car off of a ravine at a high speed. I was thrown 50 feet from the car and I lay in the ditch overnight. When they found me, the ambulance drivers thought I had only minutes left to live, but I survived.

Again, I tried to regroup. This time I got married during a drinking binge. We separated within the first year and then I had a very bad motorcycle accident. She took me back while I was in a wheelchair, but as soon as I was able to walk again, I started to drink. We divorced and I moved to Calgary to go to school, where I was eventually expelled for my alcohol abuse. By this time I had three impaired driving charges and I had been in the drunk-tank many times.

In Calgary, I found myself at a point where I couldn’t hold a job. I had to go on welfare and I couldn’t keep a relationship. I believe it was ultimately my loneliness that opened me up to seeking Jesus. This happened with a street ministry team in Calgary. A fellow offered me a Bible and I asked him all the questions about God that I had struggled with and he gave me all of these great answers and then invited me to his church. I couldn’t think of a reason not to go, so I went. After attending for a couple of months, I had another relapse. In my depression, tears, and brokenness I got on my knees and said “Jesus, I don’t know who you are or what you are but I’ve been living my life for a long time in ways that I thought were right. I’ve been in a lot of pain and I’ve tried everything else my own way, but I haven’t tried you. Please come into my life and lead me.” I stayed sober for the first time in my life and I was the happiest I had ever been.

During this time, God gave me the courage to pursue some of my interests and goals. I was able to record a CD of my own songs. He also gave me opportunities in film and television as an actor. But, as I got better and more secure, my church attendance dropped. I became distracted and developed gambling, overeating, work, and relationship addictions. I went to one more treatment center for 6 months in Calgary and then moved to Vancouver for a fresh start.

In Vancouver, I attended a one year long Christian healing program called “Living Waters.” Before that, I had been going to a different twelve step recovery program every day of the week. I remember being afraid to even go outside my home, worried that I might start another addiction! I committed to doing whatever was needed to get better, putting work and relationships second to my healing. During this time I experienced significant healing. God helped me see people in my life through Jesus’ eyes and I became aware of my bitter roots of unforgiveness. The Lord opened my heart to be able to trust in a relationship and to commit without fear of being abandoned or betrayed.

Following that program, I met and got to know my wife, Kira, at church. We married about two years later. God has blessed us with a healthy, loving marriage and four beautiful children. Also, I have just celebrated my 16th anniversary at the same job. Throughout this time, I have been able to serve the Lord as He has called me. We left the Vancouver area and moved to Winnipeg over 10 years ago. Today, my family and I are active in various ministries of evangelism and outreach. In the same way that I was once given a Bible, I have a heart to reach out to anyone, anywhere, with the hope and healing that Jesus has given to me. Praise be to God and to God alone.