Jimmy Cassadore has not had an easy road, but God led him back to a life of service.
Debbie K. Dietrich, as told to her by Jimmy Cassadore
My grandfather brought me up in the Lutheran church. I sat with him in the front pew. By eighth grade, I was confirmed. By high school, I was still going to church but sitting in the back pew, half the time hung over or still high from a night of partying.
After high school, I wasn’t happy, so I kept drinking. I tried the homosexual lifestyle and learned to become the life of the party to hide my pain. I lived a sad, quiet life at home when not partying, getting high, getting drunk, or selling myself for a moment of pleasure and a bit of money to keep me high.
Finally, in a moment of clarity, I went to trade school to be a mason. But the pain didn’t go away. Work wasn’t the answer. Work gave me money, and I lived life high on cocaine while at work. When that didn’t help, I switched to meth. I thought I’d found the answer. I stayed high using meth to keep me awake at work and came home sad, tired, lonely, and in deep emotional pain. So I drank beer until I fell asleep.
This routine kept me going for almost six years. My pain just grew worse. I worked at my job only to stay high and when that wasn’t enough, I sold myself to men and women and finally started selling drugs myself. I lied. I cheated. I stole. I had gone from the back pew of church to out the back door.
The road back home
Soon, it happened. I got arrested and taken to jail—for one day! After I was released, I tried to hitchhike a couple hours to my home. It was cold, raining, and no one was around, so I walked. Along the way, I yelled and argued with God. I thought, He doesn’t even care about me. So I laid down in the middle of the road on the side where most of the cars were coming. I was just waiting to get run over, but no cars or trucks came!
I got up and started walking and really screamed at God, because now cars and trucks kept going by. I laid down again in the middle of the road and waited to die, thinking that would end my pain. Nothing. No cars. No trucks again. Just cold, rain, and lots of pain.
Finally, I got up again, yelling at God until I was exhausted and fell to my knees crying in pain. “God, I’m sorry, please forgive me and show me the way to go from here just like you showed Moses.” And then I fell asleep in the cold rain on the side of the road.
When I woke up, it was pitch black, and I just prayed God would get me home. A trucker stopped and picked me up. I told him I’d just been praying for a ride home and then he appeared. We talked, and he listened and let me use his phone to call my mom to pick me up. She said she had no car, but she’d work on it.
When the trucker let me off where my mom might come to get me, he would not leave me alone. He stayed for 30 minutes. Finally, my mom came, and I was still so angry at everything. I had planned to yell at her for letting me hitchhike. But when she opened the car door, I fell down weeping like a small child and crying to her that I was so sorry. She welcomed me home where blankets and food, hot drinks, and my grandma all waited. We all hugged and cried together.
The phone rang, and it was the truck driver asking if I’d made it home and praising God that I had! Sometimes I wonder if he was an angel or God himself. Whatever it was, it was God saving me and getting me home.
A few weeks later, one Sunday, I woke up my mom. When she asked, “Where are you going now?” I told her, “To church with you.”
I quit all those drugs and alcohol and the homosexual lifestyle. It wasn’t easy at all. For two solid years I dreamed of doing all those sinful things and often felt afraid. People hated the person I had been, but they hated me now too. Yet I kept clean and dry and also kept going to church. A friend told me about a Lutheran recovery program so I went to check it out. It was awesome. I met people just like me. We shared our hurts and habits and encouraged each other with God’s Word. I was getting help. I was thankful to God that for some reason unknown to me he must have a purpose for me on this earth.
A road forward
When someone at church suggested I take Apache Christian Training School (ACTS) Bible classes, I said, “No way. I already go to church. You don’t know what’s good for me.” But he said I’d get a lot out of deep Bible study, so I tried it. I was hooked! We studied the Word deeply and then discussed how it applied to our lives. I’ve learned to share the messages from the Bible at work and also discussed them with my mom, relatives, and friends. I was on fire for the Lord, and I couldn’t get enough of studying and sharing the good news about Jesus! I still feel that way.
Then the pastor who was teaching asked me if I would become a leader for our Lutheran Recovery Ministry.
“ME?” I said “No, I don’t think so. I’m not worthy. I’ve been into drugs, a homosexual, a dealer, and put many people in danger. I’m just a mason. Pastor, go find someone with credentials!”
Pastor said, “We just did, Jeep! (That’s what they call me here.) You can use your past experience and your love and deep knowledge of the Scriptures to be a Christian leader helping those who’ve been where you’ve been and want out. We need you here in the Lutheran Recovery Ministry.”
Now I’ve been eight years sober and clean and four years with the ACTS Bible program. The classes have opened my eyes to exactly what God tells us in the Bible, and I can clearly see how our Lutheran churches do not add or subtract anything from the Bible. It’s not about race, culture, age, or our past. We’re a family who is always there to hold each other up as we serve in our families and communities, at work, and in our churches.
Life is still hard. I’ve been beaten, bruised, and raped, and that hurts. But now I’m saved, healed, redeemed, and serving as a Christian leader. I have never been happier. God did have a plan for me. He brought me back to serve him. Hang in there; God has a plan for you too.
Debbie Dietrich is the Native American mission communication coordinator. Jimmy Cassadore is a member at Open Bible, Whiteriver, Arizona.
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Author: Debbie K. Dietrich, as told to her by Jimmy Cassadore
Volume 105, Number 6
Issue: June 2018
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