Never would I have dreamed that I’d end up running from the police, serving time in jail, or developing drug-induced heart failure. But things like that happen when you live far from the Lord.

I was 18, entering my first year at AB-Tech Community College in Asheville, North Carolina, when my life turned toward darkness. Like many, I dreamed of attending college, getting a degree, and making something of myself. Doing drugs or becoming the community drug dealer was never a part of that dream, but that’s where I was by the end of my first year at AB-Tech. I dropped out of college and descended into a dark life of crime and selling drugs. I was far from the Christian values my parents had taught me.

I have no regrets about my childhood or my parents. They were hard-working people. My mom was a dedicated schoolteacher who raised me to know better and to live right. My dad worked second shift and lots of overtime at an industrial manufacturing plant. But with my parents both working so hard, I had time on my hands to get into trouble and be influenced by other people, movies, and music.

Paying for college was a big expense, and I didn’t have a lot of extra to spend. It didn’t take me long to realize that selling drugs could get me things, including money for college. I started by telling myself I would only sell marijuana. But that didn’t last long.

So many people “needed” me, and I began to feel important. Satan used that pride to gain a solid foothold in my life. I began selling harder drugs like cocaine and ecstasy and racking up drug charges and felonies, including the intent to distribute. Each day, I moved further from my Christian roots, until at age 19, I was on the run from South Florida police.

Galatians 6:7–8 says, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit” (NLT).

For years, I mocked the justice of God. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I did it anyway. I was a selfishly deceived man who was about to experience a decade of harvesting decay and death. From age 20 to 30, I spent 80 percent of my time either in prison or on probation.

With my first probation, I had a strict 6:00 p.m. curfew…but I disliked following rules. That arrangement didn’t work out well for me. I ended up with more charges and was locked up. Long jail time did nothing to change my heart, however, and when I was released, I went deeper into the drug life. Of course, that led to even more charges.

By then, I couldn’t even recognize the man I’d become.

Though my drug use would cause significant tension in my parents’ marriage, they never turned their backs on me. Mom was a rock, reminding me often that she was praying for me. She was concerned for my well-being; she could tell I didn’t care anymore.

“Jerrell,” she would say. “What’s happened to you? You used to take care of yourself and have good hygiene. You’ve let yourself go!” She was right. Mom would speak the truth to me. She also stood her ground against Satan.

I remember once during a dark time when she came to my door, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, “Satan, you cannot have my son, in Jesus’s name!” Then she turned around and left. No matter how dark it got, my mother never stopped fighting for me in the spiritual realm.

Dad, too, continually reminded me to trust in the Lord and to stop leaning on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). He constantly warned me that drugs and the life they offered had deceived me. “Jerrell, seek God’s guidance and His understanding. He will lead you,” Dad said often.

In 2010, while in jail for the umpteenth time, I decided to become a better person. I started reading books, studying, and bettering myself intellectually. In and of itself, that was not wrong. But I also should have been studying God’s Word and allowing Him to transform me into the man He’d created me to be.

I, however, wasn’t there yet. I needed a changed heart, not worldly knowledge.

Released but with the same dark heart, I returned to my old ways. Two years later, I was back in jail. This time was more difficult because I had fathered two daughters during those years of freedom. I loved my girls and knew I wasn’t doing them right, but it would take me years to become a father they could be proud of.

Released again, I went back to selling drugs to make fast money. I sold cocaine and ecstasy—and then I started using, something I had said I would never do. Now, with an addiction of my own, I had to sell drugs to support my habit. With each passing deal, I stepped further into darkness.

I wasn’t all bad—after all, I didn’t sell drugs on Sunday. That had to make me a good drug dealer. Crazy, right? I was sure that it would be all right with God if I quit selling drugs and only grew marijuana. Dad was right; I was deceived.

In 2015, my home was broken into, and the police discovered my stash of growing marijuana. I was charged with manufacturing and producing 50 pounds of marijuana. Again, I went back on probation. But this time, two good things happened.

I got a steady job and started reading the Bible lightly. One day, I read James 1:27. It says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (NLT).

That scripture tugged at my heart as I realized I had allowed the world to corrupt me. I finally saw my actions of selling, using, and growing drugs for what they were—evil in the sight of God. God also showed me the humbling truth that I was corrupting others, and that was dangerous ground (Matthew 18:7).

With this revelation, I determined to develop a relationship with Christ. This desire ignited an intense spiritual battle. God and the devil were wrestling for my life, and there were times I felt I was losing my mind. My thoughts became so random and intense and dark.

I searched desperately for Christ anywhere and everywhere. I searched the Web and watched YouTube videos.

One day, an internal voice told me to run to St. John’s Church. I ran four miles in the rain, obeying the voice I heard. When I arrived at the church, I started crying out for God. The people there immediately called for the pastors to come. I was in obvious distress.

Pastors David Suber and David Perry came and prayed for me. And then, before them and God, I confessed with my mouth that Jesus was Lord and believed in my heart that God had raised Him from the dead for me (Romans 10:9–10).

I repented of my sins—the drug dealing, stealing, selling, and engaging in sex with random women. I repented of the lies I’d told and admitted I’d been trying to be my own god. I asked Jesus to come into my life and save me. That day, I became a free man. It felt like the fire of God burned every residue of sin out of me. God opened my eyes to Satan’s schemes in my life and my community. I experienced peace of mind and heart in a fresh way that could only be explained by the presence of God within me.

In 2018, I became a true believer in and follower of Jesus Christ. No longer was I a drug dealer, user, and grower, trying to convince myself I was a Christian. I began attending church faithfully. Hungry to learn about God, I started reading the Bible daily. I fell in love with God’s Word and allowed it to change how I think. No longer was I being conformed to the world’s ways, but I was being transformed into a new person by God and His Word (Romans 12:2). And people could see the transformation in my life.

God sent me back into the community where I’d sold drugs to help clean it up. I no longer grow marijuana; instead, I’ve developed a community food garden that provides food for the people there.

Today, I spend my days serving in an outreach program called “Brother’s Keepers” that helps men find freedom from addiction and the cycles of prison life. We then help by praying for and fostering relationships with people in the community as we share God’s love and message with them. Giving back to a place I once corrupted brings me great joy.

God has been so good to me. He’s healed my mind and freed me from addiction. He’s healed me physically too. Drug use had caused significant damage to my heart and led to heart failure. At one point, my heart function was as low as 9 percent. But since I came to Christ, my heart function has improved to 45 percent. God has given me a new heart spiritually, one that loves, listens, learns, and cares—but on top of that, He’s renewed my physical heart, too.

And it all started when I humbled myself before the Lord.

I encourage you to do the same. Second Chronicles 7:14, one of my favorite verses, says, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (NLT).

When I humbled myself, began to pray, sought God’s face, and turned from my wicked ways, God forgave me and restored my mind and life. His love changed me into a new man.

And His love can change you too.


JERRELL BULLARD lives out his calling for Christ by being a part of a community outreach program called Brother’s Keepers, an organization that fosters relationships with those who were formerly incarcerated, drug addicted and more. Jerrell is a huge influence in the rebuilding of his community for Christ and witnessing to the lost.