Ryan Caldwell: Too Close to Overdose
By Michelle Wilson
The 700 Club
Ryan Caldwell grew up in a Christian home. Unfortunately, the protection his parents provided wasn’t enough. Ryan wound up hanging out with the wrong friends.
Ryan Caldwell: They had older brothers that were 20 or so, and they would sit down and they viewed, I viewed, a sexually explicit video for the first time. I had one in my possession not long after that. [We did] a lot of marijuana smoking and drinking.
Carolyn Caldwell: It scared me, literally to death, because we had not exposed him to that environment.
As a teenager, Ryan withdrew from his family.
Joe Caldwell: When I’d say, ‘Ryan, well, let’s go to a ballgame, or let’s do something.’ He’d say, ‘Ah, Dad, you know I just don’t want to.’
Ryan supported his drug habit with a job as a cook. Then at 17, he was introduced to cocaine.
Ryan: I bought three bags and I kept getting more and more; and I was broke and the third day – I had been up for three days.
From that point on, every waking moment Ryan was consumed with getting his next fix, his next high. His parents put him in a teen re-hab facility. He was clean for a week. Then he started experimenting with other drugs.
Ryan: When I got really high on crystal meth, I thought my heart was going to blow out of my chest. And I never really prayed a sincere prayer, but I’m like, ‘God, please don’t let me die.’
But Ryan’s near death experience wasn’t enough to make him stop. He left home, and over the next six months he lost his job and wrecked his car.
Joe: I was just waiting for the police to come and tell me that my son was found dead somewhere.
Carolyn: We had started making a commitment to each other that we would pray three times a day the same identical prayer. And that prayer was real simple, ‘God, whatever it takes, stop his drug use before it kills him.’
With no job and with no way to consistently feed his habit, Ryan and a friend decided to break into a store where they knew there was $3,500 to steal. Ryan was arrested and sentenced to six months in a Virginia prison.
Joe: And the hardest thing that I have ever done is: Ryan called me on a payphone and said, ‘Dad.’ I said, ‘Yes, son.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m in here with murderers and rapists.’ And he said, ‘Would you please come and get me out cause I think that I’m going to get killed in here.’ And I said, ‘Ryan, I can’t.’ I said, ‘I turned you over to God. And I told God to stop you and he did. So I have to get out of the way and let God run his course with you. And I’m sorry, but I can’t come and get you.’
But as soon as Ryan was released from jail, he moved in with some friends and they began to party. He sold drugs to support his habit. Then he started losing friends to drug overdoses.
Ryan: My friend didn’t wake up from sleep. It really scared me a lot because this was one of my close friends that passed away this time.
Shortly after that, another friend began talking to him about Jesus Christ.
Ryan: And she looked at me; and I just looked at her because I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to do about it. She started talking to me a little bit about Jesus and how she went to church and how she knows Jesus in her heart.
Ryan began to question his relationship with God.
Ryan: And I said, ‘I’m going to hell. There’s no way you’re going to let me in heaven. So I felt God was saying to me, ‘Ryan, just let me in. Just give yourself to me.’
Ryan moved back home.
Joe: He says, ‘There’s just something going in my life that I can’t explain.’
Ryan: And I talked to him about how I felt about God, and how I needed Him to help me; and I wanted to know I was going to heaven when I died.
Joe: I said, ‘Ryan, do you want the Lord to come in your heart right now?’ And I said, ‘He will take that drug addiction; he will take all that from you, but you’ve got to give it to him.’
Ryan: At 3:00 a.m. is when I knelt to my knees and I accepted Christ as Savior. And with many tears being shed, I came up off my knees and I felt like a new person.
The next Sunday, on Christmas day, Ryan went to church and was baptized.
Ryan: And I felt so clean when I got out of that water. I didn’t feel so dirty anymore. I knew that, you know, my sins were washed away.
Today, Ryan has a job and attends church and has a new set of friends.
Ryan: I live for Jesus each and every day because He is the reason that I’m alive today.
Joe: Ryan is the result of what prayer can do. And I’d like to tell parents today that have kids on drugs, ‘with God anything is possible,’ because I know it, because I’ve seen it.
Ryan: If you’re still alive and breathing, no matter what you’re going through, there’s hope in Jesus.Can God change your life?
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