Art deVries’ Testimony

Meet Art deVries:

My name is Arthur. Today I’m grateful to be alive and in God’s family. I grew up in a Christian home and each week I attended church regularly, twice on Sundays and also every Wednesday night. When I was 13, I began drinking alcohol and I fell in love. With alcohol. Then marijuana. By the time I entered college I was a daily abuser of a combination of drugs. For several years I structured my life and activities around using mind altering chemicals. From 15–18 years old I attended a variety of churches and sought knowledge from various religions. Then I stopped seeking altogether. I found it really hard to be in a church when I was stoned. From the age of 18 until a month before my 25th birthday my life progressively deteriorated. Two years before I sobered up I had an experience where I heard a voice (which I firmly believe was God reaching out to me) say, “Art, I’m not going to let go of you.” I felt strangely comforted, yet scared at the same time. From that=2 0point in time until the day I sobered up I could get stoned but I couldn’t get high, couldn’t get the “good” feelings. God didn’t let go of me either. I experienced a number of events where I could have died or killed others,but didn’t, and I miraculously survived my rebellion. On Sunday, January 6, 1980, I awakened in a jail, 150 miles from my home.

My sister, who, along with my parents, had been praying for me daily for 10 years, came to visit me [for some reason the jailer had located her from 70 miles away and had contacted her], and asked if I was ready to turn my life over to God. I had grown up hearing how a person can trust Jesus as their Savior, have God in their lives and know for sure that they would go to heaven and be with God when they died. Yes, I had heard but I never had listened.

Here are some verses that I was familiar with:

a. John 3:16   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

b. Romans 6:23   “For the wag es of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

c. Romans 10:9-10   “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus as Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

d. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith; and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; not by works, so th at no one can boast.”

e. 1 John 5:11-13   “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

I found out what surrender means. It means I didn’t have to fight anymore; I could “let go and let God.” I asked God for forgiveness and help in turning away from my old life. I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life. What an incredible relief I experienced. While going to 12 step meetings and also developing relationships with other followers of Christ, I then learned the true relevance of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

After marrying, my wife Meg and I wanted to find a church where we both felt comfortable (she was raised Catholic, I, Baptist). We wanted a non-denominational church, so since I knew a few people already it was natural for us to consider Valley View. The moment we walked through the door we felt acceptance and genuine warmth that people were happy to see us. We could feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling us we had found a home.
Even sober I still have problems. Mostly with my character defects, such as false pride, stubbornness, procrastination, anger, to name a few. Early on in my sobriety I made some poor decisions that still affect my life today, but I know with absolute certainty that, with the Lord’s help, there is nothing that will happen to me today that I can’t handle. I’m encouraged by the church leadership to develop strong accountability relationships with other men in the church, so we can share our lives and receive support and guidance and instruction when needed. Not only does this help me mature as a believer, it also helps me in my relationships with my family, friends, colleagues and others with whom I share my life. James 4:10 tells us, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” I know that as long as I surrender to God on a daily basis, he will lead me where he wants me to be. Being led by God is much easier than running from or fighting God. I’ve tried both.
Today I have a wonderful wife who walks with me on my journey, a son who is growing in knowledge and understanding in the fear of the Lord, a daughter who loves the Lord and who desires a relationship with me, a son-in-law who loves my daughter, and a grandchild (born November, 2008). I lived past the age of 25, I graduated from college, I’ve held a steady job since 1988 and I enjoy sharing my life in the Lord with others. Sometimes life gets really hard, but I’ve not had the desire to use, and I try to remain teachable. One verse that really helps me keep a healthy perspective is 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”