My mum was a tiger mum and the sole breadwinner of our household, hence she was always busy with work. My stay-at-home dad was pretty silent and very particular about cleanliness, so he would scold me for the smallest things.
Things like the condensation from a cold drink “damaging the wood of the table” or the wind slamming my door shut would result in a scolding.
He’d also call me things like “useless” and “good-for-nothing”, among others.
As a child, I couldn’t all process that. So, my coping mechanism became to bottle my emotions up and sweep many things under the carpet, because I couldn’t open up to my parents.
I just didn’t have a good childhood. It led to my root issue of wanting attention from people and wanting to fit in, especially in Secondary School.
First encounter with God
In Secondary School, I was very rebellious. I didn’t respect authority because my dad, who was supposed to be the authoritative figure in my life, didn’t represent authority well.
Yet it was also in Secondary School that I encountered God for the first time.
Around when I was 15, I was addicted to video games. That really worried my parents. My cousins were quite devoted Christians, so my parents asked them to invite me to a Christian conference, which also happened to be a healing crusade.
At the conference, I saw people encountering God in astonishing and tangible ways. And it was crazy to me because I’d never seen such things before.
That night, my cousin brought me to the altar. I remember raising my hands up and singing a song for fun — until I started to cry.
At that moment, I felt a peace in my heart. It was supernatural and unexplainable. I knew that I had encountered God.
Thereafter, I was on fire for God for a while. I attended youth service, and was excited for the things of God.
But I still wasn’t mature enough to grow myself spiritually, or to deal with all my childhood baggage. My relationship with God then was built more on dirt or sand, rather than on the solid rock.
First encounter with drugs
When I entered polytechnic at 17, that was when things took a turn for the worse.
I started backsliding. I messed around with the wrong friends, began drinking and smoking and would party every day at clubs.
Around this time, one of my friends offered me weed.
I had always wanted to fit in and be accepted, so I thought of drugs as “cool” and went ahead and did it.
I really liked it because it got me high. Doing drugs and getting high together with my friends forged a sense of “brotherhood”, which I really liked too.
Eventually, I started getting into harder drugs. Weed was no longer enough to satisfy me.
Week in week out, I’d combine all the drugs and alcohol, and go crazy on them, trying to chase the high.
The first three years of my six-year long addiction were really enjoyable. I kept indulging in these things to fill the void in my heart, and I felt satisfied. However, the more I did it, the less satisfying it got.
After three years of fun, I started getting depressed as the things that used to “satisfy” me like drugs, alcohol and sex simply didn’t do it for me anymore.
I went into a period of isolation, which made me lose many friends. Every day after school, I would go straight home and do drugs.
I only valued doing drugs, I didn’t want to go out or do anything else. I kept this habit up even during the army.
Those years were really hard for me. I soon fell into depression, and developed hair loss and social anxiety.
Eventually, it was time for university. I entered my first year thinking that I could pull myself together and focus on my studies. However, I couldn’t.
I flunked my entire first semester because I couldn’t stop doing drugs. I couldn’t focus and because my social anxiety was so bad, I couldn’t turn up for a single class or exam.
I ended up wasting around $8,000 on school fees, which made my parents really upset. I hit rock bottom in my life during that period.
I couldn’t find any purpose to live.
Never too dirty, never too late
Eventually, my cousin invited me to church again. I decided to give it a shot because I was desperate.
I had tried many ways to quit. Dopamine detox, planning my schedule to stick to it… but I would always stumble and fall.
It was a battle in the mind. To myself, I wasn’t addicted. But in reality, I was.
I was trying to fight everything on my own, but nothing worked for me; I would always fall back into drugs.
So I said yes to church again, and change came — but it wasn’t instant.
Over the next two months, I was still struggling with addiction. I would go to church high or sleep during services.
But during one of the services, they announced that there would be a healing service.
At first, I didn’t think much of it. But as this healing service approached, I kept getting reminded of that Christian conference I first attended as a teenager.
Then, in the days leading up to the healing service, I kept watching testimonies of Christians getting set free from drugs on YouTube. This built up a desire in me to want that for myself too.
God was telling me that I am never too dirty to come back to Him or to be in His presence.
The week of the healing service, I was driving to my friend’s house to smoke weed.
While on the highway, I put on worship music for some reason. I then began to sing along for fun — and suddenly God’s presence was in the car.
As I was on the highway, I began to bawl uncontrollably. His presence was so strong; I felt too dirty to be in His presence.
Yet I felt like God was telling me that I am never too dirty to come back to Him or to be in His presence.
The day of the healing service came. As soon as I stepped foot into the service, I felt the presence of God. There was peace in my heart.
The pastor invited those who needed physical healing to come to the altar to be prayed for. I didn’t have any physical problems, but I went out of desperation.
I poured out my struggles to the pastor: drug addiction, sexual sins, gaming addictions.
As I was talking to the minister, a man walked up to me, saying that he felt God prompting him to pray for me.
Before I could say anything, he introduced himself as one of the pastors from the church and shared that, prior to being a pastor, he had been a drug addict for 15 years.
I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. It was a divine moment arranged by God.
The moment he laid hands on me and said a prayer for deliverance, my whole body started shaking.
The Holy Spirit’s presence was so strong and tangible. I couldn’t stop shaking, and I felt a heavy weight lift off my shoulders.
From that day onwards, I was set free. All my cravings for drugs or sexual sins miraculously disappeared. I was totally cleansed and made new.
One day at a time
What gives me hope to face each day is knowing that I have a God whom I can rely on.
The changes in my life are so immense that I can’t deny that God is an all-powerful God. I have no problems with putting my entire faith and trust in Him.
When I stumble sometimes, what keeps me going is remembering the things that God has done in my life.
I hold onto God’s promises. I remember the words spoken over me by my spiritual leaders and pastors. These things give me hope.
The direction for my next season is pretty clear to me – doing missions and being a leader to the youths – so I’m just waiting for God to open doors.
Finally, for those who are struggling…
As much as you feel satisfied with filling yourself with things of this world, you’ll never truly be satisfied at the end of the day.
Only God can fill that space in your heart. I believe a lot of people in this world are searching for a purpose in life, but they’re finding their purpose in the wrong things.
If you are out there and are struggling with depression or drug addiction and are looking for a way out, give Jesus a chance.
He is real. If He can turn my life around, He can do it for you too. Open your heart and ask Him to reveal Himself to you; I believe He will. Only God can make a way for you.
- What is God saying to you through this article?
- Know someone going through something like Kessler did? How can you be an encouragement and a friend to them this week?