How low can one person go?
by Tim Sutherland* as told to Muriel Larson
Pulling my arm back, I heaved a brick through the jewelry store window. A burglar alarm stunned me with its loud, insistent ring. I jumped through the broken window and began filling my pillowcase with jewelry. I was desperate, driven by my need for drugs. When I heard people coming, I leaped out and started running.
“Pow! Pow!” Security guards were running after me, their guns blazing. I made it to the car and hopped in. My friend, Lenny, took off fast. We made it back to our apartment.
Lenny and I were homosexuals and had lived together for some time.
Seeds of deviant behavior
How did I get into this lifestyle? Well, I had always loved horses, and when I was 14 I started showing them on circuit and got in with a fast-living, older crowd. Those people led me into all kinds of sin, including deviant sex acts.
My parents divorced when I was two. Because I had never known a man’s influence in my life, I grew up with a fear of men and yet an attraction to them as well. I know now that this sort of background can set a boy up for homosexuals who prey on boys. Since I had had little moral training, it wasn’t long before anything went.
I began selling drugs while in high school. After graduation I got a good business going at the Hialeah Race Track where I worked. Lenny and I started living together and soon became hooked on drugs. Deep down we both knew deviant sex acts were wrong.
Drugs helped dull our consciences. Because they were expensive, Lenny and I started breaking into stores and houses to get the money for drugs. Eventually we were caught and charged with grand larceny, fraud, and forgery, but our good lawyer got us off. The police told us about a place in Miami where we could kick our addictions called the Jackson Memorial Institute. We agreed to go there. But as soon as we were released, we went back on drugs.
I was unhappy with myself. My homosexual and drug habits deeply troubled me, but I didn’t know what to do about them. I did go to the institute and began receiving help. The director there also recommended I see a psychiatrist, and my mother agreed. I began seeing this guy once a week.
“There’s nothing wrong with homosexuality,” the psychiatrist said. “Lots of us learn to live with it. I have, and I have a wife and children.”
It wasn’t long before we had a relationship going and he was supplying me with all the prescriptions I needed for barbiturates. This wasn’t the first doctor who had made such a deal with me. Big help they were!
I continued taking drugs, working at a race track to support my habit, pimping for young prostitutes, and selling my own body to older men.
Periodically I was thrown in jail, beaten by policemen, and forced to do acts with some of them that I didn’t want to do. How low can a person get?
I wish I was dead! I often thought. So I began overdosing on drugs. My mother spent a fortune for hospitals and doctors for me.
The last time I overdosed, I went into a coma. “His brains were burned out by the overdose,” the doctor told my mother. “If he lives, he’ll be just a vegetable.”
Help and hope
I didn’t move for eight days. Then Lenny’s mother came to see me. Shortly after that, I started coming out of the coma, and she came to visit me again. “Do you know why you came out of that coma, Tim?” she asked. “I had felt led by God to pray for you. God brought you back. You are a miracle!”
I stared at her in amazement. Maybe there really was a God! A seed of hope was planted in my heart that day, although I was still too foggy-minded to take in other things she said about God and the Bible. Not long after that, Lenny’s mother told my mother about a Christian youth center that helped drug addicts. Mom consented to my getting into their program.
Foggy head, hard heart
Several court cases were pending against me, and the youth center went to bat for me. I was committed to their custody and went to live at their home.
I could hardly believe what I heard there. Other guys told me about all the things God had delivered them from and how He had changed their lives. “He can do it for you, too, Tim,” they kept telling me.
My mind was still foggy, and my heart was so hard and full of hate and sin. War raged within me. Yet these people really loved me and showed me what pure love was like. I saw something in their lives I wanted. But something in me kept saying, Let’s get away from here. You know you need your drugs. Other people can change, but you can’t. I decided to run.
A way out
The next day the director looked at me and said, “Give God a chance, Tim.”
I began to see that I was suffocating in sin; I yearned for a way out. I didn’t want to die; I wanted to live and be happy and normal. Wanting to be what God wanted me to be, I decided to stay.
“Christ died for your sins, Tim,” they kept telling me. “He loved you so much that He died for you.”
This is it! I thought. This is the answer!
One afternoon when I was in the prayer room, other people there started talking to me about God again. Brother Jones, the director, said, “Would you like to know Jesus, Tim? Would you like to receive Him as your Savior?”
For days I had been trying to memorize a verse they had given me to learn: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV). Its truth took hold in my heart.
“Yes!” I exclaimed. “I want Jesus!”
Kneeling with the others, I cried to Jesus to forgive my sins and be my Savior. Then a peace came into my heart I had never known before. As I arose, I suddenly realized the full meaning of the verse I had learned: I had become a new person.
The fear I had known was replaced with love and power and a sound mind. God delivered me from homosexuality, drugs, and total misery.
I am married now and have several children. I also have an excellent job with which to provide for my family. God has given many opportunities to share my story with others and introduce them to Jesus Christ.
I’m a long way from where I thought I’d be many years ago. Though I lacked a man’s influence in my life, I now have Christ’s influence better than any man could give me.
* Name has been changed.