From a Pickle to a Cucumber

During my time of incarceration I remember asking a ‘seasoned convict’ if the particular facility we were in offered ACTS classes. Not being familiar with the program he inquired about its nature. I then related to him that it was a program similar to AA or NA with a strong scriptural approach. The gentleman then asked if I was an alcoholic to which I replied “No, I am an ex-drug addict.” Immediately recognizing my ignorance on addictive issues the gentleman proceeded to inform me that I was a recovering drug addict and would remain such the rest of my life. I attempted to explain my deliverance to no avail. After several minutes of debate the man, now exacerbated with my lack of understanding decided to make it simple. He asked “If you take a cucumber and turn it into a pickle can you ever turn it back into a cucumber?” The logic was good, but my experience trumped his present logic. I simply responded, “No, but God can.” This is precisely what He has done with my life.

By the time that I was 18 years old my life was entwined with a host of addictions including Meth and Cocaine. I was alienated from my family, quit high school and now faced up to 99 years in prison for two burglaries and an aggravated armed robbery. Hope had no home in my life. Under a cloud of shame, fear and depression I had had enough and wanted to quit the world. That’s where He found me. One cold January evening during an isolated moment of sobriety I reached out to a Pentecostal preacher. Shared my dilemma and received a life altering response.

I received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and was baptized in Jesus’ name in January of 1995 shortly before beginning a combined 20 year prison sentence.

After more than 5 years in prison, I was released from The Walls unit in Huntsville, Texas on May 1st 2000. Returning home, I continued under my pastor’s tutelage and immediately began pursuing higher education. Within two years I had been accepted into one of the finest liberal arts schools in the state Texas with almost 90% of my tuition and expenses paid. It was during my junior year that I began to sense a call to the ministry and by following year I was full-time on the evangelistic field. I graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education and History. Just before my graduation I was privileged to marry the love of my life. Since that time Amber and I have enjoyed the birth of our beautiful daughter, Ava and last year we were installed as pastor at Christian Life Center in the greater Milwaukee area.

My life experience is best understood through the words of the prophet Joel: “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25). Everything that I had lost or thrown away God has brought back to me through His restorative process. He did more than deliver me from the toxins of sin. He has made all things beautiful in His time.

Joseph Hanthorn

Pastor CLC