***FOR THOSE ADDICTED***
We at Savior Watches reached out to our brother Robert Crouse, Founder and CEO of Bridging the Gap in San Diego, CA to find out his story as to how he submitted his life to Jesus Christ. What we found out was a testimony we had to share in our blog for anyone else who fell into the same traps the devil set for them...
Born and raised in San Diego, my father was the chief engineer for the Tomahawk cruise missile guidance system, my mother was a housewife and I had two older sisters and a dog named Bingo. I remember growing up in Spring Valley with a pool and playing sports having an awesome time as a kid. Then we moved to Del Cerro very nice community into a huge house on a canyon much better than I remember living before. It took a little time to make friends but eventually I did through sports and the center of everything was baseball and we were all going to be pro baseball players .
Chris Cannizzaro Sr was a catcher for the Padres and his son was one of my best friends, Chris Jr and we lived and breathed baseball. There’s a Bobby Sox field down the street from my house so we would go watch the girls play all the time but over the weekend it turned into an off-road center for bicycles. Looking back I guess I consider myself a daredevil kind of guy always pushing the envelope.
This one particular Saturday I was 13 years old and we were racing at the Bobby Sox field , I went down to go off the jump and I took flight. The front wheel fell off and I just kept coming down and as I did, the forks went through my skull into my brain which paralyzed my left side as I fell almost flat on my face. Jim Strum who was racing with me just kept riding and went and got my parents. They rush me to the hospital and for the next 8 hours or so I was in surgery.
When I came out of surgery, nothing was the same after that! Being paralyzed on the left side didn't work for me and I was very angry through the recovery process that ends up bringing my whole left side back to 100%. But something was amiss, I didn't feel just right, something inside of me was troubling me. The only thing that seemed to help was smoking some weed and when that started it didn't stop... it progressed from weed to coke, from coke to meth and when I got to meth I thought I found heaven on earth. That was the beginning of the end, addiction immediately escalated and it wasn't long before I was stealing, lying, manipulating to get more drugs.
I had everything a kid could want, lived in the beautiful house, had all the toys, had a good looking girlfriend, played sports but deep inside something was wrong. I moved out and got emancipated when I was just about 17 years old, ended up moving out to Palm Springs and that I knew everything. My connection became my running partner so you can imagine what happened then. As time went on the drugs increased, the control decreased and crime became a way of life. What started out in burglaries progressed to armed robberies and ending with home invasions. So through a series of arrests I did a year, got out, got busted, got two years county time, did two years and got out... it was 65 days later I caught a 14-year case and off to state prison I went.
I was a little surfer dude and I was scared, but I was violent and crazy to protect myself because I didn't think I was going to make it out alive. I got wrapped up into the politics in prison and the maneuvering to sell drugs, similar activity inside caught me a few years added to my sentence. I Got out in 1991 or '92, went to Delancey Street for two years, graduated, had the world in the palm of my hands and next thing you know... it was my drugs in the palm of my hands. Having three strikes at that point I figured there's no turning back. If I'm going to get busted, I might as well go for the top arrest. So I became violent, unpredictable and very dangerous... and tried to blow somebody up, burn down a house and take him out.
Of course they caught me and at the end of the day and I ended up with a 41 to life sentence. The only benefit was I ended up going to a mental institution and I would brag about being the only guy in a mental institution yard that doesn't take medication there. I was the shot caller in a mental institution for the criminally insane! I'd reach the top of my demoralization at that point. I ended up deciding to get out straighten up and fly right so I got out after a few years and moved to LA. Over the next 3 or 4 years, I went in and out, in and out Patton State Hospital using meth . I was over at my buddies house and we got raided, we had guns, Kevlar suits from the police department and I ended up locked up for over a year.
While I was inside locked up, I got jumped and beat up for over an hour and I was re-paralyzed on my left side again messing up my balance in the inner ear . While I was in there they put me in the hole by myself and one night I was crying out to God, “I don't believe you created me to spend the rest of my life in prison, in the name of Jesus let me out of here!” That was on a Tuesday and was going to court on Friday. As a result of that prayer, everything shifted- the DA violated my 4th Amendment rights by submitting evidence they weren’t supposed to have and the case got thrown out... they had to dismiss all my charges and I literally walked out a couple weeks later. The case made the front page of the paper, had a big lawsuit but I still had my addiction. So I went directly to Heartland House Residential Treatment Facility and I proceeded to graduate early, get a job there as the weekend manager and promptly started using again.
One of my best friends there relapsed on heroin and eventually he overdosed and died. Things were pretty dark for me so it got really really bad... crime spree’s that were escalating with violence, escalated drugs use that lead to me one day trying to take myself out with a gram of heroin. I had been shot, stabbed, left for dead twice and all I wanted to do was kill myself. I did almost all of it and I didn't even feel it. I was heated, so mad and my buddy did the rap from it and almost overdosed. I called the only other guy that I knew going to church and was doing good, Chris Wong .... I told him I needed help and he got me cleared to go up to the Cornerstone Ranch in Descanso for the weekend. I went up on Friday and I walked away after church service Sunday but something was different, I didn't want to get high. I just wanted to serve God and advance the Kingdom... make the name of Jesus known throughout all my circles of influence.
It was 2010, five years later a guy that didn't have a license couldn't drive and have a car. God just blessed me and allowed me to work at City College, founder of a 501(c)3 that deals with at risk youth, a leader at my church... life is extraordinary. I still have issues, I get mad… I'm not perfect and I make mistakes but the difference is, I can turn to Jesus today instead of a bag, woman or anything else and have God's Word which never comes back void.
I live with my 81 year old mother who I take care of and do the best I can to make her life as beautiful as possible. We have a team of about 15 for Bridging the Gap-Where Hope is Born, www.btg4hope.org & www.dontbeabullyconference.org which keeps me busy all the time. Recently had somebody offer to fund us so we're stopping everything right now to get everything in order to take it to the next level . The only reason why I'm doing what I'm doing today is because of Jesus... Jesus died on the cross over two thousand years ago, he bore my sins and everyone else’s as well. He died, went to hell, came back 2 days later and rose to heaven on the third day and He is our Savior! So I just repent, ask for forgiveness and stop feeling bad because that’s the only thing the devil can really do is lie to us. I know who's really responsible for my life, just remember I'm the guy that was beat up in a cell, half paralyzed with nowhere to go…but that one night when I cried out to God, He heard me and He did a miracle similar to the parting of the Red Sea for getting me out of what I was in. Every day is a blessed day for me, some are harder than others but I live for God 24 hours a day 7 days a week because I know where I'd be without Him. Serving God is the greatest thing you could ever do, the greatest thing to ever be a part of is the Kingdom of God. Oh thank you Jesus for setting me free, I'm a Grateful Servant, God bless!
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
What a story Robert shared with us all. Plenty of us suffer from addiction, plenty of us have a violent past, but once you stop what you're doing, throw your hands up surrendering your life to Jesus, a new chapter in your life begins. Confess your sins, give your life to Jesus Christ and let him take control... you'll see the greatest changes in your life happen right before your eyes.