Rusty turned his back on God, got addicted to drugs, and sent to jail. Then, when he thought he'd lost everything, an old man noticed him.
- I like people looking my way.
I like people laughing whenI would do something dumb.
Felt like I had to do thenext thing and the next thing
and the next thing.
Just took it too far.
I grew up in a prettynormal blue-collar family,
awesome parents, very loving mom.
- Always smiling, he had awonderful sense of humor,
a lot like his dad.
He could always crack ajoke and make you laugh.
He was just a sweetheart.
- At that age I was trying to fit in,
just trying to impress kidsand have people like me,
and be the cool kid.
I wanted people to love me,I wanted that acceptance.
I found it in anybodywho would give it to me.
The church I grew up in, itwas a rules-based church.
That yearning to be liked,that yearning for acceptance,
I didn't find that in church.
I didn't find that in God,
because that wasn't the God that I knew.
I didn't know about His grace.
I didn't know about His love.
The God I knew was rules,and when you didn't live up
to those rules, when you didn'tlive up to those standards,
God didn't have any room for you.
If God was good, how couldHe allow this to happen?
I'd already felt like God had started
throwing the towel on me.
That was the first Iremember kind of me saying,
okay, right back at you, God.
I'll throw in the towel on you.
If I got close to someone else again,
then in the end, I get hurt.
That's what my heart, that'swhat my mind, my emotions
told me was, don't get close to anybody.
Life for me was pretty lonely,and I think that's what
drove me wanting everybodyto like me and do
whatever I could to get that attention,
and went to extreme measures to do that.
- Oh, Lori and I clung to prayer so often.
We had scriptures almostevery day that we prayed.
- We prayed, do whatever ittakes to bring him to you.
And His righteousness endures forever.
- I started seeing thesepeople like during worship
raise their hands and I'dnever seen that type of stuff.
I'm like, this is weird.
But then it got to the sermon point.
He started talking about the prodigal son.
How, when the prodigal son comes home,
not only is just forgiven,but it's a time to celebrate.
And that's where, you know,I started feeling emotions
like joy and peace thatI had never felt before.
I saw the peace thatI was missing in life.
All I had to do was totake it, to take His grace,
to take His forgiveness, to take His love.
But I had a tough time trusting the person
who was giving those things to me.
- It's so hard to tell yourchild that he could not
be in his home.
- Lori, God loves Rusty more than you.
And I thought, oh, was that enough?
And then a few days later shesaid, Deb, I cling to that
every day because it's true.
- The Lord kept telling me,things aren't what they seem.
He designed Rusty, He createdRusty, He wired Rusty.
I mean if I didn't go toGod, what would I have?
He was my hope.
- They accepted me forbeing a drug addict.
They accepted me for being an alcoholic.
When I was homeless, theywere homeless with me.
I hated it.
It was like the pit of my existence.
I had that internal fightinside of me, you know,
because I had enough tasteof who God was to know that
what I was doing was wrong.
It was my fault, youknow, it was my fault.
I didn't feel like I was worth loving
or deserving of love either.
I realized that I needed todo whatever I needed to do
to be there for my kid.
I didn't want my child to go through
the pain of trying to fit in
like I went through.
I wanted him to always feellike, even if no one else
liked him in the world, he still had me.
Merle would come in every Sunday
and he wasn't the mostexciting person to talk to,
but it was never what Merle
said to me that really made a difference.
It's what he did.
He showed me God cared about being there.
I mean, what else woulddrive this 90-year-old guy
to come and talk to me aboutall the things I'd done wrong
in my life.
Here was this guy, and he was consistent.
It showed me that God could forgive me.
I didn't have the drugs.
I didn't have the alcohol anymore.
It was just God.
My prayer was very raw ofsaying, God, if you're real,
if I can actually trust you,
then this is the time I need you.
The judge knew my reputation,he knew my criminal history,
he knew everything I had done,so how I didn't go to prison
that day is literally a miracle from God.
That is the only way to explain that.
- It was, thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus.
- Now I have a purpose.
If God wants, I'm gonnalet him use my life.
- It's amazing, it isnothing short of a miracle.
Just trust in God and that's it.
Never, ever, ever give up.
- I know the power of prayer,because I have experienced it.
And I know it was Jesus.
I know He was right there.
- God's love has no barriers.
Didn't matter my reputation,all the hearts I had broke,
all the bad things I had done.
There's nothing that cankeep God's love away from us.