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You might think life in an isolated Eskimo village in Alaska would be peaceful and idyllic, but that wasn’t the case for the mayor of Tooksook Bay. Addiction caught hold of his life, and nearly destroyed his family.
The 700 Club’s Dan Reany has the story.
"This is main street, Toksook Bay. The population here is about 600 people, and the only way in or out is by airplane. So if you live here, everybody knows your business, especially if you’re the mayor," says Dan Reany.
"I felt proud, you know," remarks Mayor Felix Lincoln.
Toksook Bay is a tiny Yup’ik Eskimo village at the edge of the Bering Sea. Felix Lincoln was mayor of the little fishing village for 17 years, but Felix had secrets he wanted to hide.
"If I go out from Toksook Bay I can travel to Bethel, get drunk for weeks, days, never call home, and let my family be worried. I did that for a while," adds Felix. " Then I got into porn, and I got into gambling. I was hooked especially to gambling because it was in my mind 24 hours a day. I dreamed, even when I was drinking, I was still dreaming about gambling."
His family knew something was wrong. They just didn’t know exactly what it was.
"It was frustrating. We couldn’t get very close to each other. Most of the time we had a wall between us ... very bad, bad life," admits Felix's wife, Eliza. " We were broken. We were fighting."
Eliza didn’t know it, but her husband was running up gambling debts.
"I was digging into my wife’s bank account, her savings account, and her checking account. I wiped that out," says Felix.
He even forged a check in his son’s name. And when he needed more money, he used the city’s credit card and started charging his gambling debts to Toksook Bay.
"I got caught doing that. I lost my wife and my kids. They didn’t trust me anymore. That thing, where the trust was for me, that was gone," says Felix.
Felix stepped down from his position as mayor. He was $25,000 in debt because of gambling, and now everyone knew it.
"I was cooped up in the house. I couldn’t go out anymore. I couldn’t. For fresh air, I’d go out when the light was out, or the sun was out, where people wouldn’t see me. I was very ashamed. I felt I was in a pit, but I didn’t know how to get out of it."
Some friends told Felix that Jesus could help him with his messed up life.
"In my mind I thought, maybe it’s true. Maybe He can fix me. One day I went up to the hill, and I cried to Jesus. I cried for over an hour, telling my sins and that I needed forgiveness. Oh man, it was very intense for me up there. I told Him I was desperate, and I needed His help. I needed his forgiveness, and I needed His deliverance from my addictions."
"I felt His presence, and I felt relieved knowing that He heard my cry. In my heart I was saying I need to change with the help of Jesus, and I trusted Him to change me, and He did change me," he remembers.
"I saw a real big change in him. It’s unexplainable. It’s just too much change, a beautiful change I would say," says Eliza.
The hilltop where he met God is a sort of personal Mt. Sinai for Felix, and he visits it often.
"For the first time this summer, I came out here to praise God and thank Him for everything that He had given me," says Felix.
Today Felix and Eliza are back together and paying off his old gambling debts. Because of Felix’s example, Eliza gave her life to Christ, too.
"God really changed me, in my heart. What I went through was very heavy: porn, lying, gambling, stealing, everything. He took that and said, 'I can bring you peace in your heart, and you can live a good life,' " says Felix.
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.