Bruce's story is one of many, but exemplifies how a Life In Christ can change one's circumstances. Bruce is currently Recovery Ministry Director at Peninsula Bible Church.
I grew up in a family with five sisters with no brothers. My father was physically and verbally abusive to us all. I believed I was defective, worthless, and useless, so I turned to food, drugs, pornography and alcohol for comfort. I started using drugs and alcohol in the sixth grade and continued all the way into my 30s and my was life was in ruins!
My first try at recovery started in 1990, when I entered project 90 because of my addiction to crack cocaine, alcohol, pornography, and anything else that could change the way I felt. I completed the program and went into transitional housing for almost a year. I managed to stay clean and sober for the next 7 1/2 years but I did not complete the 12 steps of recovery.
After the first two years, I got into a dysfunctional relationship that lasted the next 5 1/2 years. I wanted out of that relationship but didn’t know how and I ended up relapsing. It only took about three weeks until I was beat into submission again and was all the way back to the start! Three weeks after my relapse I went back into project 90 again. I managed to stay clean and sober for the next 2 1/2 years and then relapsed again and was in and out of recovery for the next year or so, until I came to PBC for the first time.
I first came to PBC in 2003 to the “Recovery Bible study” because I was invited by my AA sponsor who was a regular at PBC. The PBC recovery ministry was in its infancy at the time. Years later, I found out that my sister had been married by Ron Ritchie in 1989 at PBC Cupertino while I was incarcerated. It is amazing to realize that my sister, brother-in-law to be, as well as people at PBC, were praying for me before I even knew there was a PBC!
When I first came to the recovery ministry @ PBC in 2003, I was pretty hopeless again, as I had become a chronic relapser! I started to come to the recovery Bible study, as well as to R&R, on a regular basis. Being brought up Catholic, I knew a lot of the biblical stories and was surprised at how much I remembered. I managed to put a few months of clean time together and I really started to believe that Jesus was for real and that he died for me and that I could be forgiven and have eternal life! When Easter came up in 2004, PBC was having a baptism in the center courtyard. I wasn’t really sure if I was ready yet but I did not want to wait another year to be baptized. I think about 12 people got baptized that day! Just after everyone was finished being baptized, the pool collapsed and flooded the courtyard and got everyone’s feet wet!
When I look back to that moment in time, I think that the pool collapsing, was perhaps a sign of what was about to come. Two weeks later, I went into what turned out to be the worst drug and alcohol binge of my entire life! I had been living with my sister and brother-in-law for about six months, when I didn’t come home one night after relapsing in an evening of using drugs and alcohol! I called my sister two days later to tell her that I was OK and that was when she told me that I could not stay there anymore!
I hid from everyone in my life, in hotels for the next three and a half months. The only people I talked to for three months was the drug dealer, the liquor store clerk, and occasionally the hotel clerk. My plan was to kill myself before I ran out of money. I ran out of money and I had not killed myself. That was the darkest time in my whole life; I didn’t want to go on living, but was afraid to kill myself! When I look back on this time in my life, I really believe it was necessary for me to go through this experience to truly be at the end of myself! It was very painful but necessary!
It was August 12, 2004; two days after my 43rd Birthday! Out of money, over $40,000 in debt, almost out of gas, and nowhere to live, I called my mother and asked if I could stay with her and she agreed. By the grace of God, I have not used drugs or alcohol since August 12th, 2004. It took a few more years before God helped me to overcome the pornography addiction.
I pretty much slept for a whole week and only woke up to eat once in a while. I had to detox from all of the drugs and alcohol I had put into my system. I returned to the recovery ministry @ PBC and immersed myself in recovery meetings, Bible studies, serving in many capacities at R&R, and soaked up everything I could from the Bible and recovery literature.
About six months later, I started to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. I kept up with my recovery at the same time I spent a lot of time pursuing the stand up comedy career. I was asked to be a host at R&R and did that on a semi regular basis at first. Then I was asked to join the steering committee/ leadership team.
A little over three years into the comedy scene, God showed me that my motives were in the wrong place and I stopped performing stand up comedy. At first, I thought that I had wasted over three years of my life, but God used that experience to train me in speaking in front of groups and being vulnerable. I often have the yearning to return to stand up but God has not opened that door as of yet.
Having been on the recovery Ministry steering committee/leadership team for about four years, the idea of opening up Our Brothers Home started to form. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I blurted out that I wanted to be the house manager! When I look back on it now, I definitely see God‘s hand in everything!
God grew me up a lot as the first house manager at OBH! I really didn’t know what I was doing at first, but I trusted God would guide me and help me to learn from my mistakes. There was a lot of heart ache but a lot of joy at the same time! One of my favorite memories at OBH was when my whole family came over to OBH and we held our annual family Christmas celebration with all the guys. Some of the guys that were there have told me that it was very special to them and I know it was very special to me and my family!
About two years after becoming the house manager, God started to develop the relationship between myself and Lucy, who is now my wife.
Lucy and I worked at the same company for about six years, before Lucy and I started to become really good friends as coworkers. God helped Lucy through a very painful divorce from a very selfish husband. I started to have feelings for Lucy but was afraid to tell her because I knew it would change everything at work. I did tell her how I felt and we were able to develop a close relationship and co-exist at work at the same time. Lucy is the greatest gift God has ever given me, second to Jesus and his saving grace! I left my post as Our Brothers Home’s first house manager and Lucy and I were married on June 16, 2012 by our beloved pastor Andy Burnham. I truly believe that God put our marriage together and sustains it with his great love! It is only because of His grace and mercy that Lucy and I have learned to be “broken together”!
I was brought on staff at PBC as the “Recovery Ministry Director” in February 2018. The title sounds nice but I am really, like I have heard someone say before, “A beggar showing other beggars where to find a bread”. Since getting married, I have remained on the OBH board of directors. Shortly after coming on staff at PBC, the OBH board agreed to hire me in a part time supervisory/shepherding role, for which I feel blessed.
Thank you Lord for taking me out of the depths of despair and total darkness! I do not recognize the man that you have made me to be and I am eternally grateful to have a life full of purpose! Like it says in your word, I am not my own, I was bought with a price!