My name is David Gallagher II, originally from Harrisburg PA. Currently I am traveling again through East Texas on my way to wherever God sends me. The following was a letter that was being written to my 17 year old daughter but turned into something I’d like to share with more.
My Dear Heather;
I was going to write this as a letter to you but decided to make it a public document. I hope you and others take the time to read this testimony regarding what has happened to me over the past year and especially the past few months. Since this is going to be a very long testimony, I’ll be continuing the story when I can.
Looking back at November of 08, I can see now that I was becoming a danger to not only your sister Sara but to everyone around me, including you. I was acting recklessly and irresponsibly and it was only the beginning of a long dark fall I was about to take. My reasons for leaving were selfish but I know now that God was in control all along. His infinite wisdom combined with my own stupidity kept the people I loved most, safe from my self-destruction. My drinking had again become a problem and everyone around could see it. Once I left it got only marginally better but this was only a small positive before things turned even worse in my life.
After a car accident I was in, my loneliness and self-pity brought that alcohol problem back. This time it returned to finish the job it had started. For almost 3 months my life existed of work during the day and drinking at nights and throughout the weekends. This though, because I felt safer, was done in my apartment and done alone. Only when I was working overnight and out-of-town did I spend my time with other people while I drank.
I thought I had control of the situation but quickly found out I was completely wrong. My drinking progressed to a point where I started missing days of work. My weekends were spent in a total haze. My rent was paid and my fridge was full of beer and liquor. I would go days without eating and didn’t really care. I drank to just fall asleep. I drank to not have nightmares. I drank for breakfast and I drank for lunch. It quickly consumed every minute of every day. It was affecting my work and looking back, I should have been left go. Instead they took pity on me and became more like enablers. This was not good and only let my problems continue and fester.
Near the end of May, there was a lull in our work. I spent the better part of a week at home just drinking and waiting for a call to make some money. During this week my drinking continued and increased along with my loneliness and depression. God intervened!
On June 4th, 2009, I woke up around 4am from a heavy night of drinking. Like before, I went to the fridge and grabbed another beer – and then another and so on. About 9am, I decided to gather up my laundry and make about a 2 mile walk into town to the laundry mat. Stumbling drunk and headed down the road, 2 men in a truck stopped and asked if I needed a ride. I accepted and hopped in. The man driving was local business owner and obviously a man of God. He was not overbearing or pushy about it though. He had me “pegged” right away and only offered a prayer and his business card. He told me to call him or his wife at home if I ever needed to talk. He said he spent many nights at home and they were there if I needed them. He also told me to go across the street to a thrift shop while I was doing my laundry. If there was anything I needed there, I was to mention his name and they would put it on his account. Something was already working on me when I went into that store. I grabbed a couple of tank tops and went to the counter. The people behind the counter, besides my obvious stench of alcohol, sensed something was wrong. When they also asked if they could pray for me, I felt ashamed. Not for my problems and sorrows but ashamed over the simple kindness of strangers. With my head spinning and shame filling me, I cried like a little baby. As I left, they also gave me a business card and extended the same invitation to call if I needed to talk.
I went back to my laundry and made the long walk home. I arrived in time for my favorite shows and sat down for another night of drinking. That night, drunk and depressed, I called that man who offered me the ride and prayed over me. I started asking questions about him and his relationship with the people at the thrift shop. He explained that the store was used to partially fund the operation of a spirit and faith based rehabilitation center in a town not too far away. He said that many years ago, he had been a resident there for about 2 years. He didn’t push this program too much and only answered my questions and provided friendly words of support.
Over the next few days, it was business as usual for me. Lots of alcohol, a boring and lonely weekend followed by going back to work on Monday. Over those few days I had called that man a couple of times. I just couldn’t comprehend why a kind man and his wife would waste their time on a piece of garbage like me.
After a long day of work that Monday, I settled into my apartment with my TV and my beer and liquor. My depression grew and the alcohol was having it’s normal effect. I decided to call this man one last time. When he answered, I told him that maybe it was time I took a look at this rehab center and try for some changes for the better. He asked me a bunch of questions and told me he’d pick me up early in the morning. After I got off the phone, I went back to my drinking.
As the night progressed, I got angry and frustrated with myself. Everything boiled up inside of me and started to overflow! I was angry I wasn’t strong enough to take care of the problem myself. Everything I had accomplished and accumulated in my life was gone, lost or destroyed. My life, my wife, my kids, my home, my cars, my possessions. It was ALL destroyed and gone! My own stupidity! My own selfishness! My own pride! It had all caused this! I couldn’t even recall the last good decision I had made. The pain I had caused others became unbearable. I found myself asking why? It wasn’t that long ago that I had everything I had wanted in life? A beautiful loving wife. Caring and compassionate children. A nice home in a quiet neighborhood. There was the thrill and excitement of watching my new wife and daughter growing together right in front of my eyes. I alone destroyed it all! The memories just came flooding back.
Then the deeper thoughts started to set in. I couldn’t let myself do this to anyone again. Who was I to destroy others lives? Who else was I going to hurt that had found it in themselves to love me. As I sat and continued to drink, my mind wandered. I thought of all the terrible injustices and tragedies in the world. The anguish and the depression overwhelmed me. I started asking myself, why should I take a perfectly good spot in this rehab center when there are plenty of other people, much better and more important to others than I? Others that could make a more positive use of it than me!Who am I to destroy more peoples lives, even ones that I don’t know, by denying them the help they need just because I exist? What’s left in my life for me anyhow? Even if the program was successful, what then? Everything I cared about and loved was destroyed!
As I laid there in self-pity and sorrow, I asked myself, “Why bother?” My life had no meaning to me or anyone else I could think of. It was here, at this time, when I decided that my life was a lie and was no longer worth the effort. It was time for me to end my own pitiful existence and stop being a burden and worry for all who knew me.
Somewhere in this attempt on my own life, my body and soul just wouldn’t let it happen. Looking back, it still amazes me how I survived that night on June 9th, 2009. I was in complete shock when I woke up the next morning! I knew that I should not still be alive but there I was dirty, battered, bruisedand in terrible condition but nonetheless still alive. The details of that night were gruesome and ugly and my body will forever remind me of that fateful night. My head was terribly fuzzy and my recollection matched it. Then came that knock on my door.
That same man that was so kind to me the past few days was standing there at my door asking me if I was ready. The expression on his face told me that he knew I had to go. I packed two bags of clothes some personal hygiene products and my reading and writing materials. Last, I grabbed my Bible. It had been given to me the previous November and up to this point had received little use. Little did I know that it would serve such a large part in any recovery my body and soul would undergo. All my other possessions I left behind. A note was left for the landlady stating I was going to be hospitalized for a while. Even though my rent was paid, the few items remaining could be sold or donated. Maybe some of the less fortunate people in my complex could make use of them.
I hopped in his truck and traveled a while into the countryside soon arriving at the Rehab Center. That morning, June 10th, 2009, my life was about to change. The first day or two at the center were a blur. There is not much I can recall except learning the routines and the many, many, many rules I had to abide by.
The routine was simple. Up at 6am for breakfast then a Devotion Service in the Sanctuary at 7am. After that there was chores and jobs assigned on the property until 11am when in was time for a 1 hour class or short service again in the Sanctuary. Lunch was at noon and then it was back to our assigned duties until 3:30 when we had another 1 hour class or short service. at 4:30 it was considered personal time until dinner came around at 6. Church service was again at 7pm and after we could congregate until 9pm when we had to be back in our rooms. Each day was pretty much the same with minor variations occurring on occasion.
The property had no fences or gates and nothing that kept a person from staying if they felt so inclined. The rule was that if you ever did leave the property, you were not welcome back. The rules were strict but fair and most I had no problem following. (I emphasize most because I was and always will be somewhat of a free spirit!)
I managed and muddled through but within the first two weeks I had realized that I did not believe in God! That thought or belief had always been in my head but never before was it so blatant and pronounced. Everything that was talked about, preached, taught or sermonized was gibberish to me. I started to struggle and get upset at things I could not understand. I went to one of the pastors and confessed these thoughts and feelings hoping someone would understand my dilemma. At this point she sat me down and started to tell me all about myself. My past, my problems and my pain. These things I had never spoken of nor put on anyform or application. She was dead on! She seemed to already know more about me than I did!
I spent the next couple days in shock over how accurate and correct she had been. She knew I was in a fragile state of mind and offered only encouragement and preached patience. It had a very calming effect and for the first time in my life, I opened that Bible of mine and just started to read. I’ve always been an avid reader and I never realized that “The Good Book” was a good book! When I opened it I found the one I owned wasn’t the same ordinary Bible with the all the traditional pronouns such as “thou,” “thee,” “thine,” and all that stuff that made the reading difficult and unpleasant. That Bible given to me the previous November was a NIV (New International Version) Life Application Study Bible. It was translated into Modern English that was easily understood. I never realized this Book was filled with such interesting and colorful stories and characters. My new “find” broke all this historical information down for me, complete with footnotes that expounded on difficult verses, profiles of key people and places in History. These people and the time started to come alive to me. I could almost picture it in my head!
There was still a problem. I still didn’t believe. I still did not have faith. With the exception of the Book, I had nothing to reach out and grab hold of. That damned personality of mine did not give me the ability to not ask why and just have faith. Why? How? Why? How? Why? It’s all I could get myself to think. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. Anything that would “flip this switch” in my brain and let me just trust and believe. However, the more I read and the more I paid attention, the more I understood. I watched, listened and learned. I asked lots of questions (although this annoyed some). I read a book titled More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. It gave me a lot of insight on questions that were always answered with “just let it go and have faith”. As I got my hands on more of these books I was able to concentrate even more on my Bible and what I was reading. It was finally starting to flow for me. Things were making sense. Except I still felt pain in my heart. My sadness was overwhelming. I was still miserable.
About this time, a man named Pastor David Roberson came to visit our ministry. His ministry is called the Family Prayer Center in Tulsa, OK and by this time I had heard a little about him. I don’t know what I expected but what I saw was one of the most peaceful men I’d ever encountered. His soft spoken nature and confidence fell over me like a warm blanket. I tried to soak up everything he said. He was only there for a week and that passed by too quickly. I was still in a “Christian Infancy” and wished I could have retained more. I still carry his book around with me everywhere I go. It’s titled “The Walk Of The Spirit: The Walk Of Power“. I’ve now read it a couple times and I always put it down gaining a little more inside me. After listening to him preach that week, I felt like I was on the right path but still had a long way to go.
After Pastor Roberson left, I kept to The Word, continued to study and searched for answers. At this time we were treated to an extended stay by Pastor Shurby Long from North Carolina. He is a very powerful and energetic man. You can feel the Holy Spirit flow from him as he entered a room. He was there for me and gave me encouragement when I started a weekly routine of fasting. He was also a pillar of strength for me in a time of need. After spending time with him, I came to realize that the alcohol problem I had was the easy part of my life to conquer. The issue at hand was forgiveness not only of others but forgiveness of myself. Forgiveness of all the terrible things I’d done and the horrendous choices I’ve made.
At the end of a particularly tough 3 day fast, I found myself inside the sanctuary praying and worshiping. I was alone and thought I was having a breakdown. In my tears I discovered that I knew of Jesus Christ but I had no relationship with Him. I needed to release my pain and suffering to Him and accept His forgiveness. I must accept what I’ve done and live through Him so these things would happen no more. I realized that we live by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) I HAVE FAITH IN YOU LORD! I BELIEVE IN YOU LORD! Surely Lord you are my salvation; I will trust and NOT be afraid! (Isaiah 12:2)
I took off running out of the sanctuary and when I rounded the first corner, there sat Pastor Shurby. He looked at me and said “Let’s go”. He took me back inside the sanctuary and prayed with me and over me. This day was the first of a new time! I was saved by my Lord, Jesus Christ! Just like everyone else in my life, I had taken Him for granted but no more! My life was changing. I found new understanding and purpose. As we prayed, I found a new peace that had never been there before. I gained understanding that my suffering was for a purpose. The memories of the past will be there forever but I need to draw from them wisdom and strength. I need to learn to live as part of this world without getting trapped in it. Greater is he who is in Me, than he who is in the World. (1 John 4:4)
It wasn’t too long before I was reminded that my trials and tribulations were far from over. More work was to be done but a carried a new confidence that told we I was no longer alone to face my problems and tough decisions. If I abide by His Word and trust in Him for guidance, he will eventually deliver me through the difficulties.
About 2 months had gone by at The Center and I was feeling great mentally, physically and especially spiritually. My first test though, was an ugly one! It involved people who let anger, jealousy and hatred run amok in their lives. I admit that I failed miserably! I let these individuals get in between me and God. I let them yank me away from the path I was following and knew I should be on. I started to ask myself why God would let these so-called Christians treat people this way. I didn’t understand why an “infant” like myself would be subjected to this. I then started to question how I had gotten to this point. What difference would it make if I didn’t read my Bible so much? Who would care if I stopped fasting each week? What would it matter if I didn’t praise and pray to God every day?
What an idiot I turned out to be! I had asked Him: Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind. (Psalm 26:2) I had actually asked this of Him and he called me out on it! WOW did I fail this test! All I had to do was “stick to my guns”! I needed to continue with all I had learned and been taught and just pray for these people. They needed some of the same revelations I had received. They didn’t understand that you need to do more than “talk a good game” while in the church but actually carry this lifestyle with you when you leave. (HECK! I was still learning this one myself!) There are just too many Christians we see praising God till noon on Sunday only to leave and “kick a puppy” by 12:15! I’m exaggerating, of course, but I’m trying to get a point across. It’s on old expression to “practice what you preach” and I know I’ll be reminding myself to do this for a long time to come.
Since I didn’t’ handle this test very well, it really set me back. Pastor Shurby had left the property on his “latest mission” and my closest confidants had fulfilled their commitments and moved on to the “real world”. I fell into a deep depression and felt alone again. If I would have opened my heart, I would have realized that the Lord was there with me all along. I would have understood what He was trying to teach me. Was that lesson about pride? Humility? Dealing with rejection? Maybe just learning more trust and patience? Later on I found out it was all of the above.
I had less that 30 days left to fulfill my commitment to The Center and now I was contemplating leaving. In my frustration, I packed my things and was running away again. I had no money and no where to go, but I was determined not to stay there. It was then that something came to me. I needed to ride this out a bit longer. It was time I made a phone call to someone I had not talked to in a LONG while. Since we were only allowed calls on Sunday, it would have to wait a couple days.
Sunday finally came and I was a bit excited. There was some anxiety mixed in but I had prepared myself. After almost a year, it was time to talk again with my mother. It had been a tumultuous relationship at best so I was a little nervous. Since the people at The Center had never known me to send or receive mail or phone call, they were a little surprised when I asked. They asked a few questions but this was irrelevant. I was determined to make this call. This was between her, me and God. Unfortunately, I got her voice mail but I left a message. At least now she new I was alive and loved her.
When the staff found out I hadn’t reached her, I was offered to make another attempt on Monday. I know this was an act of God, softening some hearts, for the rules to bent a little for me. It kinda let me know that I was still on the path that God wanted. This phone call was important for some reason, but not in the way I had hoped or expected.
I made my 5 minute call the next day and gave my mother the short version of this story. I let her know that I would be leaving the program on September 9th and was thinking of returning to PA. She didn’t say much either positive or negative and over the next few days my questions started to surface. Does my family want me anywhere around? Am I once again, on my own? Should I even pursue this and ever call again?
The immediate Saturday, it dawned on me that my learning and worship was becoming stagnant. I just went from day to day without a clue and those days were turning into weeks. (Kinda like the old alcohol driven days) These things that I had let come between me and God were winning. I had to go “back to basics”. I need to start again. I had to stand firm. NO ONE and NOTHING is going to come between me and God! None of this nonsense is worth losing my soul over!
With renewed force in my praise and worship. With new Energy in my reading and studying. I was getting back to the joy and peace I had discovered existed. When the next Sunday arrived and I call my mother, the conversation wasn’t much different. I decided to just pray about it and leave it in God’s hands.
The next day I decided it was time to renew my weekly fast. It had done so much for me before and my body and soul needed it. During my fast I read my Bible and prayed a lot. Lots of studying and reading was a blessing. My commitment to The Center was just two weeks away. The question before me was, head for PA? Look up friends in Longview TX? Maybe commit another 90 days at the center?
Although The Center was a good and safe place, I felt there wasn’t anything left there for me. I didn’t feel I could grow to what I aspired. The property was too private and the group too self-contained. There didn’t seem to be any way to reach out and help people who needed it. you had to wait for them to come to you. This left two possible solutions. My answer was more prayer.
Besides my “itching’ to leave, the week was uneventful. When Sunday came, I made that call again. As I talked with my mother, I slowly came to find that she hadn’t said a word to anyone about my pending return. She had not even talked to my father about staying there while I looked for work and a new place to worship. She reasoned that she didn’t know how everyone would react. Herself, my brothers, you and your brother were still hurt over what I had done. Even though it was understandable, it still hurt me a bit. I already knew that this “tree must bear fruit“ (Luke 6:43-45) before it could be trusted again.
I kind of expected this and took it as a way of the Lord telling me what to do. At this point, I felt it was time for me to leave The center. I still had 10 days left to fulfill my commitment and was about to break it. I know this was wrong but I was starting to feel that I was in the way of others. Where I was spiritually and mentally were only a distraction to the other residents.
On Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009, I walked off the property and back out into the world. I made it back to where I had been just 3 months before, only this time I was not alone. This time I knew I’d never be alone again.
With the kind help of people I had known before, I returned for a service that night to the church and congregation that had given me my Bible the previous November. I was able to proclaim that my Lord, Jesus Christ, had delivered and saved me from the alcohol that was ruling my life! I was also given the opportunity by a few people to give them an abbreviated version of this testimony. That night the message from Pastor Jason was The Parable of the Lost Son. (Luke 15:11-32) I felt like the Pastor was only speaking to me. With the love of others, the wisdom of the words and the power of God, I knew I had made the right decision.
It dawned on me that night that a spoken word can give hope. When a life is in turmoil, a gentle push in the right direction can lead to salvation and ultimately eternal glory. If only one person I speak with in my lifetime can find what I have found. If just hearing the story of what I went through can bring them out of the darkness and into our saviors eternal light. I could consider my life a success.
Now as I go from place to place or from one church to another, I won’t hesitate to tell what happened to me if I’m called upon. If anyone needs that gentle push, I’ll give them all the knowledge I have. Just letting them know that the choice is theirs. The door to Jesus is always open, they can just step through.
I was there and that’s what I did when God sent that kind man on a day when I though my laundry was the only thing that was dirty.