What do you do when God gives you a second chance at life?
For Jonathan Meshack, that second chance came in the form of faithful prayers and a fresh start. Though he grew up in a Christian home, his faith had never been his main priority. “I was kinda forced to know God, so I believed in Him, but it wasn’t my focus in life. I realize now it was more of a superstitious thing than a real relationship, thinking, ‘If I do this and go to church then bad things won’t happen to me.’”
This went on until 10th grade when a basketball injury sparked a downward spiral.
“That’s when I started partying a lot. I grew up in that so-called Christian bubble most of my life, but once I got a taste of the world, I enjoyed it. Those years lasted much longer than I would have liked, but that’s what happens with the world and sin…it just devours you.”
“I developed a pretty bad drug problem. It all started with my torn ACL. I got hooked on painkillers. Eventually, I got clean from the painkillers, but my heart didn’t really change.”
The Wake-Up Call
Though Jonathan found freedom from one drug, he found others. The parties and drugs continued for a few years as he followed the music festival scene, but the Lord never stopped pursuing him. In an odd moment of grace, Jonathan received the wake-up call he needed to make some changes.
“I got into a pretty bad car accident. I fell asleep at the wheel after a concert and crashed my car into a tree. I was already passed out, so when I hit the tree, the airbag was what woke me up. I was outside the car looking around when the police came to check out what was going on. By God’s grace and His grace alone, I walked out of there. I didn’t get a second DUI, and didn’t even get charged.”
Two months later, Jonathan became a resident at Teen Challenge, a Christian substance abuse recovery program.
“Teen Challenge was where I realized the Lord really let me escape from this lifestyle for a reason, and I need to use this testimony to help the kids that are still so lost. I’m very grateful to Teen Challenge for giving me my life back and for God giving me a second chance at life.”
He remained in the program for 15 months before joining on as staff, hoping to use his experience to help others who were walking similar paths.
“I try to be an open book because if I’m not and if I hold anything back that means it can’t be used to help someone else. I firmly believe that’s why the Lord let me fall and go so far away from Him.”
A counselor at Teen Challenge once mentioned Word of Life Bible Institute in passing, but Jonathan didn’t think much of it at the time. “I didn’t know what I wanted or where I wanted to go and I was looking into all different things. I checked out the Bible Institute and all I saw was a two-year program with no degree.”
To Jonathan, the two years seemed like a waste of time, but God had other plans.
“Things just weren’t happening. I was at a standstill with every other option. One day I was sitting at my desk and Word of Life popped back into my head. Everything felt like a brick wall at that point, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to call. So I called and doors started opening. It was gnarly.”
An Open Door
The Lord clearly had His hand in leading Jonathan to the Bible Institute, right down to the details. His Admissions Counselor, Jenny, was very familiar with Teen Challenge since her father had also recently gone through the program. In her last weeks serving with the Admissions Team, she worked extra hard to get Jonathan a spot as a Spring Enrollment student.
“I think spending a year or two here will give a good perspective for your life. It’s not a waste of time. I’ve already grown in just one month of being here, and I can’t wait to see what the next year has to offer.”
Where some new students may struggle to begin in the middle of the academic year, adjusting to new people, new schedules, and new rules, Jonathan says he appreciates the structure of the Bible Institute, as it’s created a seamless transition from Teen Challenge. Though it has been an adjustment to be back in a classroom setting for the first time in about 10 years, he has been catching on quickly, spending most of his free time in the library studying.
“People here are super nice, from my roommates all the way to the staff. I’m very grateful to God for where He put me.I was a little worried about being 29 and coming to live on campus, but everything has been perfectly fine.”
In the short time that he has been at the Bible Institute, Jonathan has already been an encouragement to many with his upbeat and positive outlook in the midst of a long and busy winter. His attitude is one of abundant thankfulness, and it’s contagious.
Jonathan hopes to spend this year growing in his understanding of God’s Word. “I believe that’s why I’m here too. Talk is cheap, but if you actually walk the walk, it gives something people can follow.” He hopes to use his story to connect with others as a missionary to the United States.
“Our country is falling apart. People are searching. I firmly believe the Lord didn’t let me go where I went and meet these people just to see them fall to the enemy. He didn’t keep me safe for no reason. I want to get more education and go back and help in any way. I want to use my testimony. I cry out to the Lord every morning, ‘Lord use me. I don’t care how You use me. You gave me a second chance at life, and I just want to be used.’”
What do you do when God gives you a second chance at life? You use every day for His glory.
To read more Bible Institute student testimonies, click here.