My name is James Steven Shelton, known as Steve. I was born and raised in Huntsville by my grandparents, Clarence and Sarah Shelton, since I was the age of six. I was born to their oldest daughter, Nancy, and to a German father Wilfried Stöeber, a man I never knew. My mother had a life-long addiction to alcohol and suffered from mental illness. My descent into addiction to drugs and alcohol began at the age of 14 when my uncle, my mother’s only brother, introduced me to marijuana.
It was the beginning of a four-decade long rollercoaster ride of addiction to marijuana, alcohol, speed, with various other dabblings into narcotics, particularly painkillers and other opiates to which I became addicted in the 1990s. However, for the last three decades my primary addiction was alcohol. By 2015, I had drank myself into congestive heart failure which has weakened my overall health, and I have had to learn to deal with many new physical limitations due to my alcohol consumption.
My reckoning with the reality of my behavior came in 2019 when I became addicted to crack cocaine. Never, ever, did I believe that the demonic drug could take such a hold of me. Within four months I had lost a good job just one day before my 16th anniversary with the company where I was employed. I continued to recklessly waste all of my finances on that demonic drug. And soon, having no money, I was suffering from starvation, nearly to the point of death. The COVID-19 outbreak and national lockdown of early 2020 further pushed me into isolation.
For the majority of my life since the death of my grandmother at the age of fifteen, I lived a life of agnosticism. So, Jesus wasn’t the reason for any season as far as I was concerned. But during the early days of COVID-19 lockdown I picked up my Promise Bible and had that “come back to Jesus moment.” I did not know where to turn to get help with food or my addictions, but as I was reading the Bible, I heard an advertisement for Salvation Army on the radio, and it was the first message I got from the Lord on where to get food and help. It was there that I met a new friend who showed me other places to get food and help. The Lord also used this friend to lead me to the 2820 Church. When I first walked into the building, though I didn’t know it at the time, my life changed. God was telling me, “This is where I want you to be; this is where I have plans for you.” It was right at that moment that I felt like I belonged.
Life After Jesus Destroyed My “Mugshot”
It is because of that church that I now have five of the most beautiful examples of what “Love in motion for the Lord” is all about. They are Luke Copeland, Jonathan Fowler, his father Randy, Doug Smith, and last and certainly not least, Ben Hand. It is because of Ben Hand and 2820 Church that I am now a proud, grateful, and thankful member of His Way. It is God’s gift of connecting me with these two places that I now have a new lease on life.
At His Way I have a bond with many brothers in Christ who have all been down that hard road of addiction. I have found a place of healing, all brought together by the grace, love, mercy, and guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ. All of His Way’s wonderful stewards of knowledge, wisdom, authority, and love have benefitted my brothers and myself greatly. Specifically, Darryl Floyd, Scott Martin, Jim Norville, Mike Ross, and not to mention the host of our ceremonies, Tom Reynolds.
Of all the classes I’ve taken it’s Tom’s “Life of Christ” class that I miss the most. It is his class that has accelerated my knowledge and enthusiasm for learning the Bible and the spiritual messages behind them that have helped me to become the man that God has longed for me to be. I cannot finish without giving equal credit to Tom’s son, Andrew, for being one of the many angels with which God has blessed my life. Andrew is also a fellow member of (if you don’t mind me saying, Tom) MY CHURCH of 2820!
Because of my connections with (thanks to the Lord) 2820 and His Way, the experiences with these two places have given me the greatest happiness I have had in all of my life. Because of His Way I now have employment with the wonderful store we all know so well as The Saving Way. They are another extension of the families I have gained thanks to our Almighty Lord.
I want to close by adding, “A man with a family is a rich man. A man with multiple families is richest beyond measure.” I stand before you all and proclaim that I am the richest man in this room tonight. And it is all thanks to 2820 and His Way, all of which was made possible by God and His son whom he sent, Jesus Christ.
There is one more person I have to thank for making His Way a reality. Originally it was called “The Way,” and it was created by a most wonderful, caring, and generous man named Clyde Jones. He is another example of Christ’s love in motion because he has a love for his fellow man, and he is a man with whom God is well-pleased. I want to thank Mr. Clyde for allowing God to inspire him to create His Way, this Christ-centered recovery house for men who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse. I am happy and proud to say that I reside in the original house that bears his name, “The Jones House.” God bless you, Mr. Clyde.
Thanks for allowing me to share my testimony.
God bless you. God bless 2820. And God bless His Way.
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