The Battle Between Good and Evil
As Sven got out of the car and walked down the long sidewalk, his mind was racing. Years of struggling with drugs and alcohol had worn him out. He was tired and desperate for his life to change.
Growing Up Too Fast
“I grew up in a lifestyle of drugs and alcohol,” says Sven. “By the time I was nine I was selling whiskey to support our family. At ten I was running craps on Saturday and in church on Sunday. I never had a childhood and I never knew what love was. As I look back, I know now I was being pulled between good and evil.”
Sven’s mom worked. His dad didn’t. The youngest of four kids, he had to learn how to fend for himself. He learned to cook, clean, do laundry and even hunt for food. By the time he was fourteen years old he was working and had his own income. He had also started sipping the whiskey, not just selling it.
“I didn’t want anyone to tell me what to do so I moved in with my uncle,” says Sven. “I had my own money and thought I was grown. I was going to school, paying rent and working. I even bought my first car when I was fifteen. After my uncle died, I had to move back home.”
Sven starting running with older kids, drinking and experimenting with drugs. By age eighteen, he was using powder cocaine, but managed to hide it from his parents. A year later, his son was born.
Highs and Lows
“The next four years were a blur,” says Sven. “I got married and instead of a honeymoon, we threw a cocaine party. My son died tragically in a trailer fire. Meanwhile, I was out getting high. The guilt was overwhelming. Looking back, I can say I was serving Satan…and I was good at it… every drug dealer loved me.”
In 1997 lots of changes took place in Sven’s life. He moved. He got divorced. He successfully completed a rehab program. He found not one job, but two. He was clean, sober and doing well. Then he got hurt on his job. Despite telling the doctor about his struggle with addiction, they still prescribed narcotics for the pain telling him he wouldn’t have a problem with them. They were wrong.
“I had been clean eighteen months and suddenly everything fell apart,” recalls Sven. “I quickly became addicted to the pain killers. I couldn’t work. My girlfriend got pregnant, then was put on bed rest and couldn’t work. We needed money, so I started bootlegging whiskey and running craps games. I steered clear of drugs at first, but one night we had a fight and I ended up using. I continued to use and was even using the night she went into labor.”
For the next several years, Sven bounced between using drugs, going to jail, staying clean, using again, going back to jail and so on until he wound up in prison. He was in prison when his second son was born.
From Hope to Homeless
“After prison I moved in with my mom,” says Sven. “I got a job and was making good money. But I got arrogant and slipped right back into the drug scene. It got so bad even the dope man didn’t want me around. I’d burned all my bridges and had nowhere to go. I was homeless and ended up sleeping on a bench at the fairgrounds for the next six months. All I was living for was the drug. I had to stop or I was going to die.”
On August 14, 2010, Sven started calling every rehab he could find or think of. Every place he called wanted money up front or insurance. He had neither. Sven still has the list of numbers he called.
New Beginning, New Life
“One man I called told me about this place in Nashville that didn’t require any money and wanted to know if I could be there by 6:30 pm,” recalls Sven. “My mom and my aunt made the two-hour drive to bring me to Nashville. The man I had spoken with met us in the parking lot. He walked me up to the door and told me everything was going to be okay. He was a guardian angel. He didn’t work at the Mission and I never did get his name. I tried calling the number again later to thank him, but it was disconnected.”
“If it hadn’t been for the Nashville Rescue Mission I’d be in the grave. I know coming here saved my life.”
As Sven walked through the doors of the Nashville Rescue Mission, he was a bit apprehensive. Sven vividly recalls his first night in the program. “The pastor preached on repentance and forgiveness. I knew he was speaking directly to me. I gave my life to Jesus that night.”
“Today I have a personal relationship with Jesus,” says Sven. “At times rehab helped me stop using and find a job but none of them led me to Christ. The Nashville Rescue Mission did. I saw chaplains and counselors not just talk the talk, they walked the walk. I learned what love really means. Love means time.”
Sven also used his time in the program to prepare for the GED exam. He will be taking the exam in March and is confident he will pass thanks to all the help he received while at the Mission. Today, Sven is a kitchen manager and sees his position not as a job, but as a calling. He is married and father to two wonderful boys and one beautiful stepdaughter. God has restored his relationship with his family.
“I know my family appreciates the Nashville Rescue Mission more than words can say,” says Sven. “To those who give, please know it’s worth the investment. Only God knows how many lives like mine that you’ve saved.”