Ex-Con Shares Lessons Learned the Hard Way
By Annika Young
The 700 Club
CBN.com -“I used to hide in my mother’s car. I would hide in the backseat and lay on the floorboard. I think I was probably five or six years old.”
Sneaking a ride into work with his mom was the only way Jim Rouches could get her attention. He often stole moments like these because she and his father were too busy chasing their careers.
“My father was an IBM executive. My mother comes from a family of entrepreneurs. And my mom and dad were gone most of the time.”
Jim and his twin brother were the youngest of five. One day he got into his older brother’s stash, which had pot and LSD.
“The first time the euphoria hit me, my first thought was, I’m going to do this the rest of my life. This is the greatest feeling I’ve ever had - at the age of seven.”
By middle school he had become a hard core pothead. His parents had also divorced. When he became too much to handle for his mom, she sent him to live with his father. Under his close supervision and with a little tough love, Jim cleaned up his act.
“My father was there and he really was a good father, and he really wanted to be a part of our life.”
Jim made it to high school drug-free and focused on sports and academics. One night Jim’s father sat down with him and his twin brother.
“I remember him telling us ‘your mother has lung cancer and they're giving her six months to live.’”
Soon Jim lost his motivation to stay on the straight and narrow and turned back to drugs. He added cocaine to the mix and with it a string of felonies to support what had become a very expensive drug habit.
“I could go through three, four, or five hundred dollars worth of coke easy.”
Then at the start of Jim’s senior year, his mother passed away.
“I was so mad at her. I thought that she gave up and that she could beat cancer and that if I had cancer I would definitely beat it for her, or anyone else that I loved.”
Jim managed to graduate but failed every attempt his family made to get him rehabilitated.
“I just thought it was just garbage. I would rather be dead at that time than have to live without being that high all the time.”
A year after graduating, Jim married his high school sweetheart. The couple had twins, a boy and a girl. But the marriage didn’t last.
“I was in the grips of an addiction that was just massive. As much as I wanted to stop for them, I could not stop. And, even then I would have died for them. I just couldn't quit doing drugs for them.”
For the next twenty-five years he was either serving time, in a rehab program, or running from the law. Then in 2004 he was arrested for credit card fraud and a long list of other felonies. At forty-one years old, he was tired, facing his third strike, and looking at forty-nine to life.
“That was the first time in my life I just didn’t want to live anymore. I said, God, if you're real, if you're real like they say you're real, help me. And instantly I had an encounter on that floor in the cell. My heart and my mind received hope. God gave me such peace, hope, and understanding. I knew everything had changed.”
Instead of drugs, Jim craved God’s word. He asked his jailers for a Bible.
“I started praying and I started reading the Bible and it started to make sense and I understood the words and they would leap out and they came alive and they started to make sense to me. God challenged me. And he said, ‘Will you serve me if you have to go and do life in prison?’ And I didn’t think it was fair that God would pose that question to me. And so I didn’t answer and I was mad for a couple of weeks. And then finally I just said, ‘God, listen, if I never have to feel like I felt on the floor that day, if you never ever let me feel like that again, I’ll serve you anywhere.’”
A year into serving his time Jim received word his sentence was going to be reduced from 49 years to 49 months.
“State's attorney stands up and she says, ‘I don't know why I’m doing this and he'll never finish it, I'm going to send him to this program, this faith-based drug alcohol program in Sarasota. I'm going to send him to the Harvest House.’"
Jim did finish the program and overcame his addictions. Today he’s back at Harvest House as the program director. He’s also working to reconcile with his now adult twins. He’s remarried and raising two small children.
“Christ has given me peace and a joy that I’ve never experienced and I don’t think it’s possible to experience without that life in Christ.”
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