Jason Bowman: The Center of It All
By Audra Smith
The 700 Club
By the time Jason Bowman was in high school, he was a star basketball player and the life of the party. However, most of his life outside of school revolved around drugs.
"I would say that by the time I graduated high school, I was drinking four days a week heavily," Jason says. "I was smoking marijuana six days a week, seven if we could and then hallucinating on LSD or mushrooms or something one or two days a week."
Despite his increasing drug use, Jason got a full basketball scholarship to a junior college. While he focused on fitness during the season, drugs demanded his attention when he wasn’t on the court.
"Right after the basketball season got over, I should have been in the gym, but instead I was sitting in my apartment bored. I knew somebody that had drugs, and I knew somebody who had some money. I didn’t have any money or drugs, so I put the two together. Afterward I had a $100 in cash in my pocket. That was pretty easy. I would say that after about two or three months of selling drugs, I had gone from making a $100 in a couple of hours to making a $1000 or more.
I started experimenting with meth. I thought, 'Man, this is great. I don’t have to sleep at night. I can just sell more drugs.' So I was using a lot of meth, cocaine, and selling marijuana and LSD. When the amphetamines and the speed began to kick in, that is when my life really took a downward spiral."
When Jason returned for the second year of basketball training, his body was too weak to keep up with the competitive college play.
"I was a wreck. I hadn’t slept for a week, and I thought that for some reason I could still perform at a sober level. I found out in a day that there was no way that I could.
I gave up my basketball scholarship, flunked out of school and was just focused on drugs and the drug trade in our area.
I look back at some of the situations where I almost died, should have died, overdosed. I would take drugs for seven or eight days, use meth, not eat, not sleep.
I was able to justify it. It is amazing what you are able to justify. It is amazing what you are able to normalize."
Jason continued to live recklessly, until a song caught his attention one night during a drug binge.
"I was headed to a party at like two or three in the morning, and over the stereo, this band [is] making fun of Jesus I believe saying, 'Jesus Christ looks like me…' My friend hits repeat and we listened to that song like five times in a row. It bothered me. I didn’t get it. I was like, 'Who cares about Jesus? Who cares? Why aren’t they singing about Genghis Kahn? Why aren’t they singing about Julius Caesar? ' I realized that the only thing I know about Him is that He lived a long time ago. Other people live a long time ago. Why don’t they make fun of them? I heard the name Jesus, and I had to figure out who He was."
Jason knew exactly whom to call, his grandmother, who was a missionary to Africa.
"Here I am living my life, destroying my life, but I had a grandmother that was praying for me," Jason says.
Beverly Bowman says, "I really began to pray for him at his birth. I had my prayer partners from my church. We dedicated time to pray for our grandchildren."
Jason says, "Literally, I remember picking up the phone and saying, 'Grandma, Jesus Christ looks like me! What does that mean?' And she said, 'That is great. You need to come up here.'"
"I was on furlow," Beverly says. "He came up and I told him that God loved him and He had a wonderful plan for his life."
"She had the audacity to tell me that there was nothing I could ever do to get right with God," Jason recalls. "But then she turned the page and said, God sent His Son Jesus and He bridges that gap, and if I asked him to forgive me of my sins, I could be right with God."
Beverly asked her grandson, "Would you like to receive Christ in your heart today? It’s possible."
"It was the first time in my life, at 20 years old. I said, 'That is everything I’ve been looking for. I knew that was the missing element in my life, that I had been searching for.' So I invited Christ into my life that day, that afternoon with my grandmother."
Jason had a long journey ahead.
"I really couldn’t carry on a conversation for 30 seconds, because my brain was so fried on drugs. I remember my prayers during those weeks and during those days were every morning, 'Okay God, let today be my sober day. Today I want to be sober.'"
As Jason went through a year and half process of detox, he held tight to the words of his grandmother. "She said, 'Jason, you can put Jesus Christ as a part of your life even though things are going to feel out of place.' And believe me, things felt out of place in my life. She said, 'If you put Him in the center, if you make everything about Him, everything in your life will fall into place.'
I realized I don’t want my story to be that I’m still going to be a drug addict for the rest of my life. I want healing. I want to be whole. I want to live the new life. I want to live the life filled with God."
Jason did get sober and eventually attended Bible college, where he played basketball for a national winning team. That is also where he met his wife, Ashley. When he graduated school, Jason visited Africa for a month with his grandmother to preach. Today, Jason is a full-time pastor.
"My excitement doesn’t stem from where I used to be. It steams from that relationship that I can have, that my grandmother first explained to me on that day. I can have a relationship with my Creator again," Jason says. "I have been doing this for 12 years. It still works. If you put Jesus at the center of your life, everything will begin to fall into place."
"Let me just encourage you to never give up, because God will touch and He hears our prayers," Beverly says. "Be faithful."
"I am living proof," Jason says. "He is the way. He is the truth, and He is the life."
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