I was born to teen-age parents. My mother was seventeen when I was born. My father was an alcoholic and sent to prison with a crime related to this problem. My parents fought all the time and when I was twelve years of age they divorced. My mother remarried and life did not get any better for us. My stepfather introduced my mother to cocaine and she became addicted. She began to leave me at home alone for long periods of time.
One day I confronted her about why she was always gone and why we never had groceries. She told me that I should be grateful for we did have because she was selling her body for it. When I realized that my mother had become a prostitute, we got into a huge fight over it, including my stepfather.
To make up for my disappointment, my mother allowed me to do just about whatever I wanted. She allowed me to get involved with drugs and have my friends over constantly. At one point my mom actually had me escorting her to her clients.
At age thirteen my mother sent me to live with my Grandmother. I was very rebellious and filled with anger and rage because of the things I had experienced. My Grandmother then sent me to a Methodist boarding school hoping it would help. Soon after arriving I was expelled for selling drugs and bringing a gun to school.
My grandmother wouldn’t accept me back so I then went to live with my stepfather, my uncle (his younger brother), and their cousin. They taught me all about the drug dealing business and by the age of fourteen I was selling drugs full time.
When I was seventeen I was arrested for being involved in a drive by shooting. Although I had not pulled the trigger I had been in the car. The second time I was arrested I was eighteen years of age. This time it was even more serious. I had been caught with the possession of three major substances, Cocaine, Hashish, and Marijuana.
I had an aunt who had been praying for me that I kept in contact with periodically. She always told me I could call if I needed anything. I would call and she would preach to me over the phone. I didn’t like to hear it but I kept in contact with her anyway. After not hearing from me for three months, she began to wonder what had happened to me. She called all of the jails in our area and found me. Like the widow who relentlessly visited the unjust judge in Luke 18, she called and visited the jail until they brought me a message from her. Even though they weren’t supposed to make contact with prisoners for visitors on the outside, God moved on them to bring me her number. They begged me to call her so that she would leave them alone.
My aunt told me about a discipleship school called Teen Challenge. She told me she was going to propose to the court solicitor that instead of jail time I be sent through this program. She then told me when I got back in to my cell to pray about this and ask God to help me.
After our conversation, I went back to my cell and prayed. I prayed the best prayer that I could. God showed me myself when I was little, how I hated drug dealers for what they were doing to my family. He also allowed me to see that I was no longer that little boy but instead I was now the one being used to break up and hurt families. My cellmate at the time, who was a gang member, and I had previously arranged breaking out and doing some drug deals on the outside. When he saw me praying in our cell he surprisingly encouraged me to change my life.
Meanwhile, my Aunt had met with the solicitor and discussed her proposition. He explained to my Aunt that we were not dealing with petty drug dealing, and that I had committed a very serious offense warranting up to seven years. Although my Aunt began to feel a bit discouraged at hearing this, she refused to doubt God. At the last moment when she turned to walk away, miraculously, he stopped her and told her he would do everything he could to help.
The judge who was to be presiding over my case had a reputation for being ruthless when it came to sentencing. He was known for handing out jail time like it was nothing. As I went before the judge, my Aunt went with me as my spokes person. She told him about my background and petitioned for me to be allowed to attend the Teen Challenge program instead of doing jail time. Amazingly, he agreed to her proposal. And suspended the seven-year sentence. He gave me three years probation told me that if I returned that I would have to serve out that seven-year sentence.
On the way to the Teen Challenge center with my Aunt I realized that all I had ever known was dealing drugs. I had seen a car lot on the way and told my Aunt that I would probably have to sell cars for a living. She told me that she thought the Lord had a calling on my life to be a preacher. I laughed and said that I would never become a preacher.
Later at the facility I met several people that had once been drug dealers.
In the past I had met people who had quit selling and using drugs through AA and NA (Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous). Even though they had stopped selling and abusing drugs they were still the same people. The people I had met at Teen Challenge were somehow different. They looked as though they had never done or sold drugs in their lives. They explained to me that they had asked Jesus to come in to their hearts. Hearing this I wanted what they had. I gave my life to Jesus. In a service there, I forgave my mother. Immediately I was delivered of anger and rage, the demons I had carried with me for so long.
I have been in the ministry for eight years now. I am a youth pastor and also speak in high schools and conferences all over. My mother was saved eight years ago and has a beautiful family. She is on fire for the Lord and the scars of our past are no longer even evident. I thank and praise God for all He has done and all He is doing in our lives -
- Pastor Koopman