Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2000

Harold Keller / L’Observateur / July 29, 2000

Last week, after I finished speaking to a group of 66 men at a drug rehabilitation center, I gave the clients, who were leaving the next week, a chance to share. A seemingly shy young man began to speak,acknowledged that he was nervous, and said that he was not used to speaking in front of so many people. He stumbled through his talk the firstminute and then settled down and told the group what happened to him about five weeks ago.

“I overdosed on heroin in a bathroom,” he said. “I was near death whensomeone in the apartment found me and called 9-1-1. I woke up in thehospital – confused, my body aching, and wondering what happened. I wastold how fortunate I was to be alive. I was sent to Charity Hospital to getdetoxed. There, I met a young man who had the same drug experience asmyself (a heroin overdose).

“We came together to this treatment center. Many times, I wanted to packmy bags and give up. I wanted out, but each time he would talk to me andtell me that I had to stick it out. He told me that this was my only chanceto live a good life.

“Tonight, I thank God for putting him in my life. Without his caring, Iwould not be here.” Then, in an emotional moment, he thanked him andimmediately, the young man stood up and came forward to hug his friend.

I consider it a blessing to have witnessed such love between two human beings, both struggling to beat a vicious drug habit.

At the closing of the meeting, all 66 men stood up, made a circle, and sang “Amazing Grace.” What an awesome, spiritual experience!After the meeting, I talked to the young man who had been such a great help to his new-found friend. “I know you’ve used many drugs andexperienced many super-artificial highs, but tonight, I feel like the greatest high you’ve ever had is when your friend acknowledged that God had used you to maybe save his life.” He smiled and said, “It’s the greatestfeeling I’ve ever had!” During our conversation, I found out that he had been a narcotics policeman at one time. He took pride in his job and served his departmentwith honor. Then, like a thief in the night, the drug culture he ws fightingbecame his friend. It destroyed a career that he loved, embarrassed hisfamily, and almost took his life.

As we parted, I told him that God wanted to use him to share his story and maybe even become a counselor. He smiled and said, “That really would besomething.”Yes, I agree. That would be something, but that’s the way God gets theglory. He loves to take people who feel like they are “nobodies” and makes”somebodies” out of them. A changed life is the greatest miracle andtouches people more than anything else.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational group.

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