Chap. Devon Stewart Johns
I was born in 1961 to a great Mon and Dad. I am the youngest of 3. I have an older sister and brother in that order. We are all 2yrs. apart. Because of my parent’s experience in growing up, our household was hard-working middle-class, in the San Mateo suburbs, next to the 101 Freeway. My dad was hardworking, personal and a great provider. My mom was loving and an excellent homemaker… they were great parents and provided a very loving household… NOT perfect…but, truly loving and trusting in GOD.
The best way I can explain my life growing up in San Mateo, from my perspective, is a progression from the TV shows, “Leave it to Beaver”, to “Happy Days”, to “That 70’s Show” … After that, it was “The Outer Limits” … that was on me.
Personally, I have known GOD since I was a very young child. In fact, my first memory of having a conversation with my mom was regarding GOD, life/death, and Heaven. As a child I knew Jesus Christ as the Savior of the World… but, not as my personal Savior and Lord. My dad influenced me to build a personal relationship with GOD as my Heavenly Father who would never leave me or forsake me. I had no understanding about building a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and operating in obedience to The Word in the power of The Holy Spirit. I had never read the Bible yet, even though I was encouraged to do so many times… I was not a good reader as a child. That understanding came to me when I was 23, when I read my first Bible… I was a much better reader then. Since then, it has been something that has taken all my life to develop and grow in… I’m still in process, Amen.
One might think that my life was all good… all-in-all, it was very good the way life came at me. So then, how did I mess it up so much? Looking back now, that’s easy to explain…
It was … S.I.N. … Self-Centeredness, Insecurities, and Narcissism. I did it to myself.
I had a hard time getting out of my own way… all along the way. Because of this, I never quite “Fit-In”. I tried not to compare myself to others and blazed my own path. I tried to work hard and do my best trusting that GOD would take care of the rest. Through those times I was the youngest in my crowd. I always looked older, bigger, and was naturally stronger than most of my peers. While hanging around older kids and adults, from all walks of life per the socio-demographics of The Bay Area, I was always trying to be/do better than I was. I became “Chameleon-like”. I could blend and hang with anyone, anywhere, for the most part. But, because of my own insecurities and wanting to do what I thought was “Cool” at the time, it opened the door to the manipulation and influences of the World. They said, “You only live once”, “Didn’t knock it till you tried it” and “If it feels good, do it”. So, if I was having fun and didn’t knowingly hurt anyone along the way, I ran with it. I was a hard worker and having fun making “it” happen. Otherwise, if I was not having fun with “it” or “them” … or if “it” or “they” were not happening or doing what I thought was “Cool”, I would start getting frustrated or bored and look for other ways, or other people, to satisfy my needs. The manipulated and influenced, (me), became the manipulator and influencer.
The results of that kind of outlook on life were a mixed bag of success and failures that touched every area of my life. My relationships with family and friends, jobs, careers, businesses, physical and mental health… was a Rollercoaster ride of bliss and madness, including my personal relationship with GOD. All along the way, my faith was tested and challenged. I relied on the Word that said, God would never leave or forsake me. I even asked Him one night when I had my doubts because of the mess I made of my life… He clearly assured me, He was there, that was 1998. Going forward things got worse, as I couldn’t seem to stop the momentum of my mess…my fault!
Fast forward to 2010… In the end, it didn’t matter how “Cool” I was, how smart, my education, my skills, talent, expertise, background, experiences, money I made, how strong I was or how nice/mean I tried to be… At 49yrs old I was “Shot-out”, “Strung-out”, “Burnt-out”, and “Stressed-out”… with NO Peace.
Everyone left me, or hated me, including myself… I was alone, unemployed, evicted, recovering from a stroke, living on the streets in a broken-down Motorhome, playing “Cat and Mouse” with the COPS. I was struggling with a drug and alcohol addiction that was stronger than ever. I finally came to the end of ME, and hit the proverbial, “Rock-Bottom”. I didn’t know what to do, or where to go.
But GOD!!!… He took my mess, misery, and madness and turned it into Ministry… Hallelujah!!!
I went to a church to pray on 2/27/2011. I was told about the Modesto Gospel Mission’s, Men’s New Life Program (NLP) through a new friend I met. He led the Saturday bread ministry at that church. It had sustained me for three months, in the winter of 2010/2011. The next morning, I stepped out in faith one more time towards GOD. I laid everything down at the foot of the Cross, at Jesus’ feet, trusting GOD to lead me on the right path. That path was to enter the doors of the Modesto Gospel Mission, join the Men’s New Life Program (NLP), put down my cane and my burdens to get busy in serving The LORD, and I never looked back… that was 2/28/2011 at 9:00am.
Since I returned to my LORD, I have been repenting ever since. The result has been that my life has completely changed for the better. I have Peace of heart and mind. My marriage to my beautiful/loyal wife is restored and better than ever. As of 9/2023 we have been married 24 years. Our family is restored and growing in love and respect towards each other as never before. I recovered from my stroke with no real complications. My heart and mind are being renewed and getting stronger all the time. I have been 100% clean and sober since 2/28/2011 from 35yrs of the influence and madness as an alcohol/drug user, abuser, and addict. I was a “Functional” daily indulger until I progressed to a “Dysfunctional” addict, from 1976 – 2011… I’m 62 now. Along the way, I have been blessed to become an IACCC, Ordained Minister/Counselor, an CADTP SUDCC-II Counselor. I earned my BS in Biblical Studies and have been a Men’s New Life Program (NLP) Chaplain and Case Manager, Teacher, Life Coach, etc., at the Modesto Gospel Mission since I graduated my 2-year (NLP) program in 2013. I love what I’m blessed to do in serving our community.
Along the way, I met my SOTC brothers in fellowship and service to The LORD in building The Kingdom of GOD… one Soul at a time. I am grateful to serve GOD Almighty, by the indwelling power of The Holly Spirit, in Jesus’ name, as a fellow SOTC Member and Chaplain. I have been blessed since 2019, to run with my Soldiers of The Cross brothers… a Motorcycle Ministry, like no other… that’s for sure.
I don’t know what my future service with The LORD looks like, exactly. But I know The One who does… and I’m good with continuing to step out in faith towards His calling… in Jesus’ name. Hallelujah, Amen!