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Sexual Abuse Victim Freed from Tormenting Visions

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Andy Bronkhorst put in many miles and years behind the wheel of a semi-truck, alone with his thoughts and memories. Many were good, especially those from his 17 years in the rodeo, and the people there who touched his life. “They cared about you if you got hurt. They came up and consoled you. You knew from town to town you were going from rodeo to rodeo and the same people were there, you know? And so they became a family,” said Andy. 

The memories of his own family told a different story. His father, also a truck driver, was always gone and his mom, an alcoholic, brought people home to party. Andy said, “I felt hurt. I felt abandoned.”  

There was one memory that haunted him– the time his uncle sexually abused him when Andy was 7. Adding to the shame, his parents didn’t believe him. 

He said, “It crushed me. Yeah. Yeah. It crushed me because I was telling the truth. And I, I felt like I had to gain control. You know? I felt like I had to do something to fix the situation, but at that age, I didn't know what to do. I just thought I could, you know, can't beat 'em, join them.”

So, at ten years old he started drinking. By then he was a rising star in junior rodeo where he found his family and a reason for living as he worked hard to be the best. 

“I didn't feel like I was anybody already. You know, I felt like I needed to prove myself. I felt like I wasn't good enough,” said Andy.

While Andy enjoyed the attention and success, his body took a beating. He started abusing opioids and eventually meth. The addiction forced Andy to drop out of rodeo at 22 years old.

Andy said, “I felt like I, why was I even here? And you know, I just kept building on that, you know? And, and the more negative that happened, the more negative I thought about myself and the more negative I thought that was going to happen in the future.” 

By then he was married, divorced twice, and had four children. He became a truck driver to pay child support. The road was Andy’s escape from life.  

“And since I had so many bad relationships, nobody wanted to be with me. So, I was alone, you know? And so that's how I led my life, you know, I was always a rambler, you know, I always had to get out of town. I always left,” said Andy. 

Andy would spend 14 lonely years on the road, in and out of rehab, haunted by visions of his past. Then at 36 he would lose something else to addiction - his commercial driver’s license. Out of work, he joined a notorious biker gang. Still, the outlaw in him couldn’t chase the nightmares of abuse away. 

“And it just got worse, for every time I thought about it, I would just put more drugs and alcohol into my system or do something worse. You know, that, that would, I mean, even if I had to go to jail to get somebody's attention, I did it,” said Andy. 

He became so volatile even the gang had enough and kicked him out. Worse, his kid sister told him to stay away.  

Andy said, “I was very angry. I was abusive mentally and physically and verbally, yeah, everything. At that point, I just tried to tear it down. I didn't want to be alive.” 

In September of 2012, Andy, now 38, was living out of his pickup truck in a campground in Washington State out of money and having withdrawals. One day while walking along a creek bed, he remembered something from his rodeo days, the messages he heard about Jesus at Cowboy Church. It wasn’t until now he realized Jesus was his only hope. 

He said, “I laid in the, in the water to cool off and I just started sobbing. And I asked God, I said, 'Lord, I need you right now. I can't do this alone. So, if you help me out, Lord, I promise I’ll change my life.'" 

“I felt like somebody was standing there with me and I like had this, like somebody came and hugged me. I felt it.”

That same day his sister called, inviting him to stay with her family. While there, Andy watched Christian television and prayed to accept Jesus with Pastor Robert Morris.

“I started hearing that still small voice inside me. And when I found out that that was the Holy Spirit, boy, I let it rip and I just talked to that little still small voice. And I just knew, I just had this feeling that came over me that, that everything was going to be okay,” said Andy.

Andy went into AA again and, with God’s help, conquered his addictions. He also met and married Trina. As Andy grew in Christ, he was able to forgive those who hurt him. He said, “The Lord, the Lord told me that that wasn't my fault. He has taken those visions away. I don't have the, the visions anymore. And I feel like I’ve been heard.”

Today, working on the relationships with his children and grandchildren, Andy leans on Jesus Christ every day and finds all he needs is in Him. “I feel blessed, I feel redeemed. I feel loved. I feel honored to be a husband, a father, a grandfather, all the above. I just, I’m so overwhelmed with the love and the joy that I have. They call that the unsustainable joy, you know, that the Lord gives you. And every situation I’m in, I have that joy and I don't have that emptiness anymore.”

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Shannon
Woodland