My name is Jaime Garcia. I’m writing from Dunklin Memorial Camp, a beautiful place in the middle of the Okeechobee swamps in Florida, where I have been since a year and half ago. I came here with my wife Liliana and my two daughters Daniela and Antonella as a result of a very painful process in which I destroyed everything that was around me, including myself.
I grew up and lived all my life in Colombia, South America, as an overprotected child, full of fears and misguided identity in which I found acceptance through people around me. I graduated as a Civil Engineer, received a Master’s Degree in construction management and years later the Lord called me to work full time as the senior pastor of a 5000 member congregation. But unfortunately my ministry was characterized by masks of security, optimism and spirituality which I had worn to hide the insecure child who panicked at the thought of rejection. I wasn’t able to face the fears in me, much less admitted it and showed it to others.
It did not take long before I converted into a workaholic. I found in the ministry the perfect socially acceptable excuse to keep my mind busy 24/7 and not have to deal with those situations inside of me that were producing pain. I never had time for my family and they suffered so much; I always promised them that things were going to change but I never found the way to do it. I learned and even taught that in my priority list, God should be in the first place, my family 2nd and then everything else, including my job, studies, friends, etc. I never learned how to walk out this theory. For me, my work (ministry) was first in my priority list and nothing else.
In the end I was running from the Lord and what He wanted to do in my life. As a result I committed adultery. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I ended up destroying everything in my life; my wife and daughters suffered immensely. But they were not the only ones: My parents, sisters, cousins, grandparents, friends and the congregation who were following me, an unreal and “ideal” figure.
Adultery turned into a sexual addiction, I ended up in a hole of self condemnation, depression, loneliness and the desire of dying. By the grace of God I was delivered from all these feelings after many months of intercessory prayers from my wife (who finally decided to forgive me) and others who decided to believe the Lord still had plans for my life. Grace is an undeserved gift and today I perfectly understand that, I did everything I could to loose my family forever; yet God saw it fit to give them back to me.
We finally came to Dunklin and the Lord walked us through a beautiful recovery process that started with He and I, followed by a process of reconciliation with my wife and daughters. Recovery for me means to face the pain I ran from my whole life out of fear and deal with them; it was very difficult for all of us, but today, I can honestly say, for God’s glory, the storm is over. I reached the other side because the Lord walked me through by hand. I’m enjoying a beautiful relationship with my Lord now, I’m free, I definitely know His grace, His unconditional love, His forgiveness; and I have the most wonderful wife in the world. I’m a blessed man because she is beautiful inside and outside and now she is also my best friend. The Lord also restored my two daughters and gave us a beautiful Christmas present last year; today she is 10 months old and her name is Anabella; she is the seal in the restoration the Lord did in our family.
Today, our testimony as a family has become the foundation of the new recovery ministry the Lord has given us. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We have accepted the calling of God to give by grace to others what by grace we have received, giving our lives to help raise Cities of Refuge like Dunklin and Canaan in Colombia, so that more lives would be restored and filled with the unconditional love in a life giving community in the same way God has done for us.
Jaime Garcia, Colombia, South America
Our relationship had been completely destroyed by the time we arrived at Dunklin. Through the family recovery process God totally regenerated our relationship. He didn't repair what was but gave us a whole new marriage. We returned home to build a Godly family raising our 2 boys in a Christ-centered home. Since being at home, we have had the opportunity to minister to other couples in crisis, lead groups and teach classes in our church. The tools we learned in the marriage classes have helped walk out what the Lord started at Dunklin.
Billy and Sheri McDaniels, Fort Myers, Florida
The battle with addiction, and all that goes with it, nearly killed our marriage. Even after months of recovery counseling in Family Recovery, the feelings of anger, resentment, and deep hurt remained. It seemed as if we would not make it. However, beyond what we could see, the Holy Spirit was healing our relationship. Now we walk in His light and live together as a Christian family.
The Lord has allowed us to minister to other hurting people and even opened up a place for me to minister at Teen Challenge to young men struggling with life control problems. The God of redemption redeemed our marriage and our family.
Kevin and Christine Rainey, Fort Myers, Florida
I came to Dunklin in the Summer of 2003 with a life controlling addiction to cocaine. I had destroyed relationships and caused a lot of pain and disappointment in the lives of those who loved me most. Since then, the Lord has done what only he can do. He's given me life, hope and purpose. All of my relationships have been restored and the Lord has given me the wife of my dreams. We’ve just had our one year anniversary and it has been a wonderful year. Isn’t God good.
Ben Dismukes, South Carolina