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Prodigal Returns Home to Help Others

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“I had a chip on my shoulder. I was taught that you didn't let anybody push you around. If you win a fight, people praise you for it.” Fighting, drugs, and alcohol-- things Josh Timms picked up from his parents: two teenagers living in poverty and addiction. For Josh, a dropout and crack addict by age fifteen, the fighting was about respect and attention. “The people I looked up to were tough guys. I wanted to be somebody you didn't mess with I was real arrogant, cocky.”

As for the drugs….“I didn't like Josh. I didn't wanna deal with any of the hurt or pain I had caused or that I had myself. I just wanted to drown it out.”

Addiction, crime, and violence would become a way of life for Josh for years to come. His anger drove him; defined him. Even spending almost two years in prison for armed robbery and numerous assault charges seemed to have no effect on him. “Prison for me was like training or something. That's the way I looked at it. Like, I'm not ever gonna be anything anyway. I honestly thought I'd either get killed or I'd spend the rest of my life in jail.”

Six months after his release from his first prison term, Josh was arrested again for assault and stealing cars. That same morning, he got some news from his girlfriend, April, that would soften even his hardened heart. “When she told me that she was pregnant with my daughter I was happy. Even though it was like, my life is an absolute mess, I was still happy. I didn't fully grasp it.” 

Sitting in prison for a year and a half, Josh began to think about his life and his child’s future. “I wanted to come home and I wanted to be a dad. Now, I didn't know how to be one, I didn't really know what that meant, but I wanted to try.”

So, when Josh got out of prison, he married April and started working construction. For five years, he tried to go straight and be a good husband and father. He always fell short. He and April fought constantly.

“It was really hard for us to get along because he wanted it his way, and I wanted it my way and neither way went together,” April recalls. “There was no compromising.”

“I was really sad about the way I was,” Josh remembers. “I wasn't happy. I didn't wanna be the way I was. I just didn't know how to get out of it. I had no power over it. I was willing myself to quit doing drugs, willing myself to quit having the attitude and the temper and all that stuff, but it didn't work.”

Then, one day while doing drugs with a friend, Josh felt a darkness he couldn’t shake. “It was like, the weight of everything in my life just kind of came down on me. The way I was as a person, as a friend, as a father, as a husband--the guilt of my life came down on me.”

Josh went home, hoping the feeling would go away after a good night’s sleep. The next morning, it was still there. “I didn't hear a voice audibly, but I felt it, inside. And it was God,” Josh remembers. "And He told me, ‘You're going die and go to hell for the way you lived.' And in that moment, I thought, 'I'm dying, going to hell right now.' And in the same instant, just as clear as a bell, He said, ‘But you don't have to.’”

Josh remembered his grandma and others talking to him about Jesus through the years. “It don't matter about how tough you are. It don't matter about how bad you are. It don't matter about how much money you have. None of that's gonna matter. Like, the only thing that'll matter is your relationship with the Lord Jesus. And at that point, I just broke down. And I started praying. I don't remember what I said as far as my prayer, like word for word, but I just asked God to forgive me. I put my faith in Christ that morning and immediately the whole dread, all of that stuff, just left me. And I feel this weight lifted. I wasn't angry anymore. God took that from me.”

At first, April wasn’t convinced he had changed. She had heard it before. Then, Josh told her he wanted to go to church. “I knew then, like, this is--he's serious,” April recalls. “His demeanor, his attitude, our conversation, just everything about him was different. He just seemed more gentle immediately.”

That Sunday, at the end of the service, they went down to the altar together. April remembers that day. "That's when I prayed and said, ‘Lord, I know that I really messed up and I don't wanna live like this anymore, and I really want to commit my life to you.’ And so, from there, God just really changed our lives. We would not be married today if we had not gotten saved. There's no way.”

“I wasn't free before; I was a slave,” says Josh. “I was a slave to getting drunk. I was a slave to sin. I was a slave to getting high. I was a slave to, you know, maintaining a persona. I was a slave to that. And when God stepped in, He released me from all that. He broke all those chains for me. He freed me from that desire. He made me free.”

Now, Josh can be the man he never thought he could be. Today, a father of three, he pastors a church in the same town he used to terrorize. He says he’s amazed at what Christ did in his life and his family’s. “If you're still here, you're not too far gone. You still got breath and you still got a chance. God's there. If you'll call on the Lord, He'll save you.”

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About The Author

Amy Reid

Amy Reid has been a Features Producer with the Christian Broadcasting Network since 2003 and has a Master’s in Journalism from Regent University. When she’s not working on a story she’s passionate about, she loves to cook, garden, read and travel.