Testimonies of people who have found answers

Michael W. Smith recalls drug addiction, boasts of identity in Christ
 
Audrey Barrick
Singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith hasn’t been the same since God came to him more than 30 years ago during his darkest days. Though he has become one of the most recognized and respected Christian music artists – with 44 Dove Awards, three Grammys and more than 15 million in sales – it wasn’t always smooth sailing for Smith.
In a personal testimony shared on the website IAmSecond.com, the West Virginia native recalled three years of his life when he was “sucked into” the drug scene. “I began to be enticed that you can play with the fire [and] you won’t get burned,” he said in a raw video testimony. “Little did I know that I would be in the biggest pit of my life and feeling like there was no way of escape.” “Smoking that first joint and feeling so guilty about it …,” he said, recalling his use of cocaine and LSD. “I got sucked into this thing [and] for some reason I justified it.”
Smith had just moved out to Nashville after dropping out of college to pursue a career in music. He had a passion for worshipping God through music and had felt God’s calling on his life at age 15. Growing up, he recalled “a beautiful time in his life” when his heart was really after the Lord and when all he wanted to do was pick up a guitar and sing praise songs. “God had a call on my life and music was supposed to be a part of that,” he said. But when he got to Nashville, he began to be enticed, playing at after hours bars and getting into the drug scene. “It’s almost like your compass sort of just … disappears,” he explained, “and you enter this whole other world and you don’t really realize what’s going down and then all of a sudden it’s too late.” “I knew where I belonged. I just couldn’t get out of the mess that I was in,” the 53-year-old artist said.
After a near-death experience, Smith cried out to God for help from the linoleum floor of his kitchen. He began weeping unceasingly. It was November 1979. “The God of the universe came and wept with me on that floor,” he recalled. “And I haven’t been the same since. It all changed.” Within a year, Smith landed a job as a songwriter and soon thereafter got his own record deal. Crediting God for his immensely successful career, he said, “I never could have orchestrated any of this. God is faithful.” Peace and hope, he highlighted, do not lie in selling millions of records or being a rock star. “All that stuff dissipates. It doesn’t last,” he stressed. “The greatest peace that I have is I know who I am. I’m a son of the high King of the universe. My identity crisis is solved.”
 
UFC Fighter Vitor Belfort finds god through pain
 
Jennifer Riley
Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Vitor Belfort shared in a new I Am Second video that it was not physical pain but emotional trauma that helped him find God.
The Brazilian-born Belfort, who is scheduled to fight current titleholder Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight Champion title on Feb. 5, recalled the year that changed his life forever in the ministry video.
The UFC champion shared that he didn’t turn to God even when he suffered a neck injury at the age of 20 that threatened to end his career. But it was the pain and mental anguish of losing his sister that brought him to Christ. In 2004, he captured the title of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. But in that same year he received devastating news that his sister was kidnapped in Brazil after their mother dropped her off at work. The family never found her body, but heard stories that more than 20 men raped her and killed her in the slums. “We have words for if you’ve lost your husband, you’re a widow; if you’ve lost your parent, you’re an orphan; but if you lost your child, they don’t have a name for that. That’s so painful that they don’t have a name for that,” said Belfort.
Amid the anger and bitterness, thoughts of revenge consumed him. Seeking a way to assuage his pain, Belfort began to pray. It was through praying that he heard God’s voice: “Son, it doesn’t matter how you look, how you think about your life, your sister belonged to me.” It was at that moment that Belfort said he realized for the first time the reality of God. “I think there is two ways to get to God, through love or through pain. Mine was through pain,” stated Belfort.
Now, his heart is peaceful and his relationship with his family and God is good, he shared. “I can see now that through that tribulation, I’m a new man. I’m a strong man. I’ve matured,” Belfort said. “I’m not perfect. I still struggle with many things, but it’s a process. I’m in the middle of the process and every day I try and prove myself so I can fight through that process, which never ends.” Belfort said that he is often asked how he can participate in such a violent sport and still serve God. His response is American football and hockey are also violent. “Everybody’s a fighter,” he said. Belfort has won 19 of his 27 UFC fights and has been ranked in the top 10 in the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions. 
 
Former vampire novelist: No Rest, Peace without God
 
Jennifer Riley
Famed Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice confesses there is no rest and no peace without God, in a new video in which she talks about her return to the Christian faith.
For 38 years, Rice was a “Christ-haunted atheist,” she says in a recently posted “I Am Second” video. Her vampire novels were a reflection of her internal struggle living in the godless world she created. The vampire, she says, is a metaphor for the outcast and the person who feels cut off from God. Rice gained fame and wealth from her vampire novels, but internally she was increasingly dissatisfied with “the world in which salvation was not a possibility,” she shares.
“And the reason for the dissatisfaction was simple: I really believed in God,” she says in the video. “Not only did I believe in Him but I loved Him and I wasn’t admitting it.” Rice grew up in a Catholic home as a child but rejected her faith when she was 18 to gain freedom and search for knowledge. “I felt that there were so many things forbidden to me as a Christian … I felt a desperate need to be free,” she recalls. In the “I Am Second” video, Rice says she was reminded again and again “that as long as you are denying God you will not know any rest. You will not know any peace.” “You can’t save yourself through art. You can’t save yourself through music. You can’t do it through travel. You can’t do it through wealth,” Rice shares. “All your attempts at saving and transcending through other means will ultimately fail. You save yourself or God saves you when you turn to Him.”
After nearly four decades of denying God, Rice says she was finally ready to surrender to Him. She returned to the Catholic Church in 1998. “I surrendered the doubts,” she says. “Imperfectly and contrite, I went back.” And returning to Christ has changed everything in her life. For one, she no longe
r feels she can work with the vampire metaphor. “I wasn’t a person in a godless world [anymore], far from it,” she says.
Now Rice devotes her time writing books that are “directly to God and devoted to Jesus Christ.” “I have changed and I have to do this,” she says with determination. “I have to write for Him.” Her Christian books include Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, and Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim.
 
2nd Korn member shares story of faith, recovery from addiction

Josh Kimball
A member of nu metal band Korn will release a book on Tuesday about his journey through addiction, faith, and recovery.
And, no it’s not former guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, who split from the group in 2005 following his conversion to Christianity. This time, it’s bass guitarist Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu, who is still a member of the band but reveals how different he is now from his former self in Got the Life. “I was an expert at drinking, smoking dope, popping pills, using foul language, being mean, and partying without any remorse,” Fieldy recalls in his soon-to-release book, published by Harper Collins. “You don’t get that good at anything without lots of practice.”
The turning point for now 39-year-old came after his father became ill. “When Dad got sick, I thought I could fix him because I had money, power, and influence,” he recalls. “I was rich and famous, right? I thought I could fix anything.” As time went by, however, his father’s condition went from bad to worse. Every doctor Fieldy took his father to insisted that he had cancer, though all the tests returned negative. To cope with the mounting frustration, Fieldy turned to partying, drinking, smoking, and pill popping – activities he had been engrossed with for the last twenty years of his life.
But Fieldy’s “deep denial” of his father’s illness would soon come to an end. In 2005, Fieldy’s father – a “total Holy Roller, completely into Jesus” – died. And following his father’s dying wish, Fieldy found God. “I’ve been clean for three years. I don’t fight with my wife anymore. I don’t lust or cheat anymore …. I don’t wake up feeling like hell anymore. I don’t spend money on things I later regret anymore. I don’t deny my blessed life that has been waiting for me … anymore,” Fieldy writes since his father’s death. “Losing Dad was my wake-up call to see that I had to change the way I lived or I was going to die, too,” he adds. With never-before-seen photos and never-before-heard stories, Got the Life offers Fieldy’s raw, candid, and inspiring story of rock and redemption.
The bassist’s hope is that his thoughts will somehow inspire readers. “Don’t waste your life. There are only so many hours in a day and you can never get those back,” he writes. “You were made to make a difference.” Today, Fieldy is a happily married father of three who lives in Southern California. He is also still a member of Korn and working on a new album with the band as well as a few side projects. Among the side projects is his own clothing line, Immanuel One Twenty Three.

 
Football Star: God Will Take 999 Steps for You to Take One
 
Jennifer Riley
His rough life made him believe that there was nothing anyone could teach him. But a Texas college football star learned after his injury how faithful God is and how much he needed Him. Baron Batch, now a senior at Texas Tech, grew up with people telling him that being a good athlete is life itself. “What happens when it’s over? What happens when football is over? What happens when you can’t play sports anymore? If that’s your life, what happens then?” asked Batch, running back for the Texas Tech Red Raider football team, in an “I am Second” video posted last week.
In 2006, he suffered an ankle injury that led to seven surgeries and missing out on the entire 2007 season. During that time, he contemplated quitting football and lost his identity – a college athlete. Moreover, none of the people he thought were his friends visited him in the hospital. Instead, two teammates he did not have a close relationship with visited and said God had a plan for him. Eventually, he started attending church and Bible studies and his ankle healed. But life actually became more difficult after he accepted Christ and his ankle healed, he said. From a young age, Batch had led a hard life. His mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was ten years old and passed away when he was in ninth grade. He, his three brothers and one sister basically raised themselves, which shaped his attitude that “no one can tell me anything because I’ve done it on my own.”
But God used the 2006 injury to break him down and remove the distraction of football. “If you are a thousand steps away from God, which I was, God will take 999 steps just so you will take that one,” said Batch. “I said, ‘God, I know that I’m a screw up. You know that I’m a screw up. I understand that you gave me these talents and these abilities and I spit on them. I spit all over them. I disrespected the things you gave me and tried to claim them for my own self to bring glory for me,’” he said in the video meant to inspire people to live for God and for others. When he returned to the football field he had a new attitude and new way of celebrating touchdowns. Batch said he no longer pounds his chest or points to his jersey number or name when he reaches the end zone. Instead, he points up. “To me, Jesus dying on the cross is the ultimate act of love and the ultimate act of obedience,” he said. “All I can do every time I get to the end zone is point up, point up and say ‘Thank you God. Thank you God because you are so, so, so, so, so faithful. You were faithful when I wasn’t. You were faithful when I laughed at you. You were faithful when I said I didn’t want to have a part in you. But yet somehow you turned all of that into a powerful testimony.” On Saturday, Batch’s Texas Tech Red Raider played against the Oklahoma Sooners. Landry Jones, quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, also shared his story on “I am Second.”
Similar to Batch, Jones placed his identity in being a star athlete. But when he got to college, he realized that he would not be the football star that he was in high school. “Everything that I put my faith, hopes and dreams into was stripped from me,” said Jones, who grew up in a Christian family but viewed Bible stories as “fairy tales.”
“I started to believe in lies that Satan has spoken into me in high school, that without football, without sports I was worthless. Everyone hated me. Why am I even here on this earth if I can’t play football?” He turned to alcohol and girls as he spiraled into depression during his first year of college. Jones, who was previously always popular because of his athletic abilities, had a bad attitude during college football practices so no one wanted to hang out with him, he recalled. “I was just drowning. It was like Satan just pushing me deeper and deeper and deeper under the water,” he said. “I just wanted to crawl into a hole and just be left alone all by myself. I didn’t know if I wanted to keep living. How can I go through another miserable year like that? I just wanted to die.”
It was at this point that God intervened and freed h
im from depression and loneliness. “I just remember feeling so much love just pouring into me and saying that He didn’t care where I was, what I’ve done, and all He wanted was me,” Jones recalled. “Instead of Landry Jones the athlete I was Landry Jones the son of God. And that is what my identity is now.” Jones, whose team celebrated a 45-7 win on Saturday, said in the video that he has never felt happier in his entire life after coming to know Christ. “It is the eternal joy that God speaks into you,” he said. “At the end of times it isn’t really going to matter if I’m a Hall of Fame quarterback or a great college quarterback or anything like that. It is going to be a matter of what I did on this earth and how I used my gifts for God.”