Ralph Garth: A Junkie's Redemption
By MaryRuth Goochee
The 700 Club
“I was in the first grade, about six years old, when my father told me I wasn’t never going to amount to anything,” Ralph Garth recalls. “You can speak things into a person’s life, and that’s what that person will think about himself. That’s what I thought about myself that I never was going to be anything.
“All I wanted was his love. I didn’t know what love was. Nobody ever told me that they loved me.”
One day a schoolmate stole a pair of shoes, and Ralph was falsely accused. He spent two days in juvenile detention before the judge cleared him. He says, “I believed juvenile detention put a stench on me that caused my life to turn. Because I was going to jail, it seemed like people looked up to me – my gang, my friends. It seemed like this is the thing to do.”
Ralph’s gang started taking pills and drinking. He was never heavy into drugs, until he joined military.
“I joined for the purpose of going in, getting a lot of money saved up, coming out, buying the car that I wanted, and that was going to be the road. [I would] buy the drugs I need. Most of the guys there were already snorting or shooting heroin.”
When Ralph got home from the Army, his local friends were ahead of him. They were smoking crack cocaine, so he did too.
“I’m trying to chase a high that I never will get again: the first high,” Ralph says. “Now I’m spending more money than I ever spent on heroin."
Ralph’s addiction caused him to lose everything, and he was homeless. A friend got off the streets and tried to tell him about God. Ralph wanted nothing to do with Him.
“I’m on the street. I go to the soup kitchens, eat lunch and then I go back to the community and get high. This thing now is really taking control of me. I can’t stop it now. I don’t know how to turn it off.”
Ralph bought $500 of crack cocaine. Smoking took its toll on Ralph’s heart. It started beating rapidly. Sitting in a tub of cold water seemed to calm it down.
He recalls, “It was like a sleep. I went into a sleep. In this sleep I dreamed. I had a dream that I was in a grave. It was pitch black down in there. You couldn’t even see your hand. I’m feeling around down in there, and I’m hollering. It was a horrible thing, because of the darkness that I was in. I couldn’t get out. There was no way to climb out, because there was no grip for me to come up out of the hole.”
Fear jolted Ralph awake. “I looked up into the ceiling, and I just said God, ‘If you’re real, would You help me? Would you please help me? I can’t get out of this. I don’t know how to get out of this. I can’t do this no more. If You don’t get me out today, I’m going to die.’ I got up, and I was able to think. I heard a voice saying, ‘Call for help.’”
Ralph started calling recovery programs. Finally, the hospital admitted him and placed him in the mental ward.
“I felt comfortable there though. There was a peace that I couldn’t explain. I was all right in a mental institution. I knew that I was being taken care of.”
For 30 days Ralph detoxed. He found a book called The Cross and the Switchblade, the story of Nicky Cruz. Ralph identified with Nicky’s life and how Nicky got off the streets and helped people.
“I’m sitting there on this table, and I’m saying, ‘Lord, I never want to see another human being go through what I did.’”
The friend who told him about God earlier picked Ralph up when he left the hospital.
Ralph recalls, “Then he took me over to his house. When I saw his house, I said, ‘Wow, God did this for you?’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘You know what, you can’t be lying, because you ran with me. I know you don’t have sense enough to do this here. I want what you have.’ He took me to a revival. They had an altar call. I went down there. I received the Lord Jesus as my Lord and Savior and the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the same time.”
Ralph began to see that he, like Nicky Cruz, could help drug addicts get off the street. He married Kathleen, and they opened homes for those struggling with addiction.
“I love Jesus, because Jesus died for my sins,” Ralph exclaims. “He took my crack cocaine on the cross. That’s something that I can’t repay. I love Him, because He first loved me. He loved me, and I didn’t even know He loved me. I love Him just because of what He did for me. He brought me out of hell, a place I was on my way to. Jesus looked down, and He didn’t look at my faults. He didn’t look at what I was. He didn’t look at what I smelled like. He came down, and He wrapped his arms around me. That’s why I love Him. Because He cares so much for me.”
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