Identity is important. If you travel you will be asked for identification to prove who you are. If you are stopped by law enforcement, you will be asked for your license so they can find out your identity.

In life we are often given a different type of identity. For many years I was Jim the telephone man. Now I am Jim the school bus driver. He is Vance the preacher at PGCC. There is Bob the roofer. I know that guy, he is Jerry the drug addict.

When we moved to NE AR we met Keith and Barbie. They were the children’s pastors at our local church. The kids loved them because they were so much about having fun while learning about Jesus. Their identity to the children was fun adults! They loved spending time with kids and taking them to camp along with doing Mega Sports Camp in the summer. They did this for seven years.

Many years prior to this Keith was identified as Keith the drug addict by the community and his friends and family. Keith was addicted to drugs and struggling through life trying to hold his previous marriage together. He was not in a good place, and he knew it. His behavior in the community and with his family and friends had his identity known as a drug addict.

Keith reached rock bottom one night when he was arrested and found himself in a jail cell facing up to 20 years in prison. There was a very big man in that cell with him and wanted his Nike socks so he quickly gave them to him. He knew then he did not want this life anymore. He sat in that cell awaiting trial. The judge allowed him a final chance by going to John 3:16, a camp where you work and find freedom from addictions. Keith went, and with the help of Jesus Christ, Keith found freedom and later became that Children’s pastor.

Keith’s story does not end there. Keith began a Celebrate Recovery ministry in Thayer, Mo. and helped lead it for five years. A few years ago Keith started Celebrate Recovery here in the community where he serves Christ. That ministry is still alive and growing every Sunday night. Keith is helping those identified as recovering addicts. Keith still struggles with the label of felon the court put upon him.

This story that God redeemed does not end here. Keith wanted to start a new non-denominational church in this community. It just so happens that we did too. We found another lady, Carryn that wanted to start one also. The five of us got together and opened Cornerstone Chapel in April of this year. Keith kept telling us he felt God calling him to be the pastor! Guess who God told he would be the new pastor, you guessed it, Keith. At first, I objected. I wanted a young man out of bible college. The very next morning the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me and convinced me that God does not always call the equipped, He equips the called. I thought of all the bible characters that I would have never chosen BUT GOD, knew what He was doing when he called each one according to their hearts.

Keith is being used by God every week. His sermons are God inspired. Keith’s heart is as big as you will find for the love of others and his wife shares that same love for others. Just last Sunday many were without power, so Keith and Barbie quickly put together a free spaghetti dinner at Cornerstone for all to come that had no power. That is just who they are.

Once identified as a drug addict by people, God now identifies Keith as His forgiven and beloved child of His that He called to spread His Gospel. From drug abuse to jail, from jail to John 3:16, from John 3:16 to a Children’s ministry pastor, from a Children’s ministry pastor to a Celebrate Recovery Leader, from a Celebrate Recovery Leader to The Pastor of Cornerstone Chapel in Cherokee Village, Arkansas! The first day the church opened it was standing room only! People in the community no longer see Keith the drug addict. They now see Keith the Pastor. By watching God work in this man’s life over the course of 10 years they want to support Keith in everything he does.

Never underestimate what God can do with your life is you ask Jesus to help you. God has a plan for your life and if you are struggling with an addiction, get help through a Christ centered recovery program like John 3:16 and hang on, as God transforms you into the man or woman he wants you to become.

Jim Everett

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James Everett