Addict Finds Deliverance When All Else Fails
By Randy Rudder
The 700 Club
CBN.com-“I remember my first night on the streets. It was cold out that night. And I remember going to a playground and trying to huddle up under a jungle gym,” Matthew McPheron says as he recalls his time as a homeless heroin addict. “I saw a trash can off in the distance, and I thought, ‘It’s probably a good idea to take the liner from that trash can and sleep inside the plastic.’”
As a boy, Matthew probably never thought he would end up like this. But he did. Matthew grew up near Youngstown, Ohio. He had a good relationship with his father, who was a firefighter and later a pastor, but he didn't share the same feelings toward his mother. “She would just put me behind a door with some Lego’s and leave me and not even talk to me,” Matt says. “It really put me in a place where I thought I was I meant to be abandoned and rejected.”
Eventually, his mother left. His father later remarried and Matthew finally began to open up to his stepmother, but then she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. “I took a really selfish perspective, where it was like, ‘I’m being abandoned again,’ Matt recalls. “So it made those walls go right back up.”
After losing a mother for the second time, Matthew, who was now in high school, turned to drugs to ease the pain. “I felt hurt; I felt lost, and I didn’t know what to do, but I knew for me, at that age, going to church didn’t work for me. What worked was putting a haze in front of me so that I didn’t have to deal with reality.”
Matthew sold drugs as a teenager and then moved on to stealing cars. “One night I was at a party and I was getting drunk,” he says. “There was a gentleman there who said, ‘I have a buddy who runs a chop shop and they need a Nissan, and they’re going to give fifteen hundred dollars for the person that gets it. I thought, ‘Fifteen hundred dollars—that’s like three weeks worth of selling dope.’”
After several years of stealing cars, he was arrested and sent to prison. For the first time in his life, his conscience started to bother him. “When I was in prison, I had a little bit of time to reflect and think about the things I had done, and the people that I had hurt, and it consumed me.”
When he was released, Matthew decided he no longer wanted to steal cars. With no influx of cash, he looked for a cheap way to get high-and found one - heroin. “Three months into shooting heroin, I found myself with nothing, broke, and homeless. I had finally reached the place that I belonged: homeless, strung out on dope, sleeping in a trash can liner. The plastic kept me warm, but it smelled like trash. And I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is where you belong. This is what you deserve.’”
One evening, Matthew was out looking for his next fix. “I was walking northbound on Sixth Avenue, and I started praying, and I was saying, ‘Lord please, just give me ten dollars so I can buy a shot of dope. And I look off into the distance, and I see something that looks to be currency. About ten yards, I could see a ‘10’ on it, so I thought, ‘It’s a ten-dollar bill.’ And I said, ‘Oh, there is a God! Here, My whole life I’m waiting for You to show yourself to me, and here You are giving me a ten dollar bill for dope,’” Matt says.
The ten-dollar bill was phony, but what was inside was worth far more. “I realize it’s not a real ten-dollar bill; it’s a fake ten-dollar bill. And I said, ‘Lord, I knew You didn’t love me. I knew You weren’t going to give me ten dollars.’ And inside of it was the full book of Proverbs, pulled out of one of those miniature New Testaments. I took that Book of Proverbs with me and I read that night about wisdom.”
Matthew says that evening was a turning point in his life. “For the first time in my life, I remember thinking that there is a God, and He is present in my life,’ he says. “I thought he had a warped sense of humor, you know. I would’ve preferred a real ten-dollar bill! But this was one point where it was evident that the hand of God was working in this situation. And I felt the Lord saying, ‘I’m always with you. I’m never going to abandon you. I’m never going to reject you.’”
He started going to church and studying the Bible, and later went through a successful recovery program. Soon afterward, he met and married Jennifer. Today Matthew helps Jennifer run the miracle center in Tucson, a facility for women dealing with addiction. Matthew also hosts The Overcoming Life a Christian radio show for recovering addicts.
“One of the most powerful things about being a believer in Jesus Christ, about being a Christian, is we’re given an opportunity to reach out into the darkness, and offer people life,” Matt says. “We’re given an opportunity to reach out to people who are incapable of loving themselves, and offering them an unconditional love that is so great that it can’t be denied.”
Matthew says his purpose in life is to use his experiences to share Christ with other addicts. “I know the Creator of heaven and earth. I know the God that hung the stars in the sky, Who knows the number of hairs on my head,” he says. “What greater statement can be made? And if we truly believe this is the God that we worship, how can we ever doubt that He is going to work in our lives?”
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