He surrendered his life to God in a crack house, 24 yrs later he is a leader in recovery [VIDEO]
"I remember falling on my hands and knees in the crack house, and I called on God. I said, God if you spare me from this life I will do your will for the rest of my life," that's what Derrick Jenkins said roughly 24 years ago in middle of the crack house.
It was a day later that a dealer gave Jenkins more dope and he said, "I didn't even want it. That night I prayed God took the taste out of my mouth." He didn't even desire drugs after that moment of surrender.
It was only a few days later Derrick was on a flight on his way to Orange County, CA heading to rehab. "That's where life really changed for me," the now Tuscarawas County Health Supervisor emphasized.
Born to two hard working parents and a big family in the Akron/Canton area of Northeast Ohio, Jenkins grew up going to church. He was a good athlete and hard worker, "I was responsible. I worked, went to school, I had my name in the paper. Good things happened to me, I was blessed," he explained about his upbringing.
But with drugs and alcohol abuse being prevalent in his neighborhood and siblings, addiction crept into his life as a young teenager. As life progressed so did his drug use, "22 years old I tried cocaine, man, and that was it. The fist time I snorted it...I was on cloud nine. From that point on I snorted it everyday."
His drug use provoked health issues as he recalls one night having such an intense seizure, "I thought I was not going to come out of it. I remember my father, he was at home, and he was calling my name. And it got to a point where it was faint." In that moment of fading out of reality and into possible death Derrick prayed, "God if you get me out of this, I won't do this no more. I remember opening my eyes and looking at my dad and he was frightened."
At 24 years old that incident scared him straight, for a short while. Shortly thereafter he got into dealing drugs. "I was making a lot of money," he recalls, but his conscious began eating at him. It still was not enough to get him to quit, yet.
At 25 years old he went from dealing crack cocaine, to smoking it. "I tried it one night, and it was over. I thought powder cocaine was it, but crack took me to another level," he candidly shared. Immediately crack cocaine took over his life, from 25 to 30 years old he was in and out of treatment every year.
He admits that his drug use took him to places he never thought imaginable, but he didn't know how to quit. He dug his "rock bottom" deeper and deeper and got to the point where he wished he would die, just so the insanity would stop.
Then he dropped to his knees and called on God in the dope house, from that night on everything changed.
He recalls arriving in California and going to five and six 12 step meetings a day for five to six months straight, and this foundation of recovery became his launching pad into the life he prayed for when he dropped to his knees months prior in the dope house.
He returned to "Grace Ave," the street he grew up on and worked on his recovery.
"I would run out of the house. Run three miles to a meeting and run three miles back, but when I got to an area where I used to use I would cross the street and run and that was my therapy. Even in the midst of the chaos I relied on God," Jenkins explained as he shared his experience, strength and hope.
He met his wife (whom he is still happily married to) in early recovery. The first years of his recovery things went as hoped for, but not without challenges. He lost his father and navigated marriage trying to make ends meet.
Then things changed dramatically one night when he got the call that his brother was murdered. "That night that happened, that phone call from my sister, that was the worst night of my life," Jenkins expressed.
As he went from the murder scene to the hospital trying to see his brother and find out if he was still alive he said, "At this point I have a relationship with God, and I'm praying."
His brother passed away that night, but Derrick stayed clean and sober.
"Being a man of God and understanding what a resentment will do to you...I had to pray for that person that shot and killed my brother. I had to ask God to give him what I would want for myself so that I could be free," was how Jenkins walked out his healing process after the worst night of his life.
"You determine to change your life and walk with God, He'll put people in your life that will help you," was some of the sound wisdom that he can calmly and confidently expressed now over two decades into his recovery journey. With gratitude he shared, "there's a lot of people that helped me."
He has now been married for 21 yrs, "I have two beautiful step sons and my son. Ten grand children and as you can see, a lot of love."
He now gives back to the community daily as a health educator. He was a counselor for 21 yrs. He has shared his story of hope around the world and, "I believe I'm a servant of God," Jenkins wanted to share.
Check out the full interview here - 14 mins
Addiction is a lonely and dangerous place, but if Derrick can do it anyone can!
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