Paul Anderson, the greatest athlete known in the community high school, had been awarded all sorts of scholarships to college and had many offers from various colleges. It was the spring just before he graduated that things fell apart. He and some of his buddies had been out celebrating their impending graduation and all of their accomplishments in high school. When someone pulled out a joint, at first Paul refused—thinking about all he had ahead of him. After a while, someone dared him to take a drag. Never one to resist a dare, he accepted the joint and inhaled deeply, sputtering as he coughed. The other guys laughed at him, but his eyes were smarting and his lungs burning. He didn’t see anything funny. The longer he sat, watching them pass the joint, the calmer he became until he finally took another hit. This time, he didn’t sputter or cough, he just sat back and grinned stupidly. By the time he got ready to go home, he couldn’t focus. The world seemed to be moving faster than he was and he was trying to catch up. He heard laughter faintly, but he couldn’t see who was laughing. They all appeared to be far away. Finally, he heard someone say, “we gotta take him home. He can’t drive like that.” Unfortunately, they didn’t move fast enough. Paul had walked out the door, keys in-hand. He struggled to get into the car and to get the door open, but he finally got the car started and headed home. That’s all he remembered of that fateful night.
When he woke up two months later, he discovered that he had totaled his car and had been in a coma for the last two months. Doctors confirmed the drugs in his system and he was ticketed for that and his license was suspended since he had a probationary license. Once he woke up from the coma, he was in rehab for another month, learning to walk all over again. While there, he experienced first-hand what drugs and alcohol could do to a person and to their families. There were a number of addicted teens in the rehab, struggling to overcome—their addictions and their family’s disappointments. While he could sympathize with their plights, he had to deal with his own. His family wasn’t rich and they incurred an enormous hospital bill for his care and their car insurance rates when through the roof. He was able to graduate with his classmates, but college had to wait because of the publicized accident and the drugs in his system, scholarships were revoked as were offers from the colleges.
He spent a few months in a wheelchair and suffered the agony of watching his parents, deal with his situation. They didn’t say anything-nothing, and that made it all worse. He would have understood if they had yelled or screamed at him or even beat him, but they said nothing. They just looked at him and shook their heads, sadly. Of course they were glad he was alive, but the thought that their son was on drugs devastated them. It took him a long time to earn their trust. But he did. He never forgot that night and how easily a person could slip into dark behavior. Fortunately, his disability was not permanent. With constant therapy and a determination to overcome, he did. He worked to put himself through college and never again, took life for granted, grateful for the second chance he’d been given; especially after he saw the damage to his car. Only a miracle kept him from being killed.
Working to pay for college was a blessing and one he took to heart. He ended up working for the rehab center where he had been a patient. He understood the struggles, the temptations, and the desire to get out from under. His preference was to work specifically with teenagers who were addicted to drugs. He thought that he could better relate to them and when he made a change—to live for Jesus—nothing could convince him otherwise. Most of the young people were able to relate to him, but then there were a few who thought he was just too straight-laced to understand them. No matter what he did, he couldn’t get through to these few, but thankfully, there were more he reached than not.
It was his work with teens at the rehab center that first got the attention of Pastor Cal. He had been attending church when Pastor Dee and Pastor Cal arrived in London. After a few months, he had been approached by Pastor Cal to work with the youth at the church. Paul had never thought about a call of ministry on his life, but he prayed before giving Pastor Cal an answer and was then shown in the Word and in his spirit, God’s will for his life. He had completed a course in ministry and had been ordained, ready to do the work.