Bill: I grew up in a home with parents that used drugs and my dad left when I was young. I didn’t know anything else, so I started using when I was about 12 years old. I dropped out of school in ninth grade and I was in prison by the time I was 18 years old. After prison, I decided to get clean – but that only lasted for ten years. I was going through a difficult time in my life, and drugs seemed to be the only thing that helped me get through the day. I had a great job and a nice car, but I lost everything when I started using meth. I didn’t care that the drugs would eventually kill me and I lost all respect for life. I did things, chased things, and hung around people I never thought I would. I was in the gutters with dirty people and would shoot up with them on a daily basis. I started selling meth, too, and lived my life on the streets. As far as being close to death, I hung out with skinheads, biker gangs, white supremacists, and other people you would never want to be seen with. As I was making my living by selling drugs, stealing cars, and spending nights in hotels, I met my wife, Carey.
Carey: I was on the run. I was on a fugitive drug warrant and wanted in Kentucky. I turned to drugs during a tough time in my life, as well, and ended up hanging out with bad people and finding myself in bad situations. One of these bad people set me up and I was charged with making meth. They were going to arrest my mom and I would do twenty years unless I testified against that guy, so I ran. I packed four huge suitcases, way too big to carry on the greyhound bus to California. I was leaving my son, my family, but I was scared that if I had testified, I would have been killed. Once I got to California, I stayed with a friend and eventually ended up on the streets. At breakfast one morning, my friend introduced me to Billy.
Bill: Even though my life felt over, I wanted to help Carey. For two months, as I was running around in stolen cars and selling drugs in the middle of the night, Carey would never leave the hotel room because she was scared. One time, we drove over to a friend’s house in a borrowed car to sell drugs and the cops pulled us over. I had a week’s worth of meth on me, which would have guaranteed a large possession charge. The cops asked us our names and if we had any drugs on us, they searched our bags, but found nothing.
Carey: The cops put us in the back of their car, and Billy told the cops my name was “Sheila” to protect me.
Bill: While they were trying to search for her name in the system, I swallowed all of the meth I had on me before the cops could find it – the amount I swallowed was easily enough to overdose. I remember that it was a hot day and there was no AC in the car. The windows were up and the hair on my skin began crawling. I started to feel like I was going to lose it, so Carey started blowing on my face.
Carey: He banged his head against the car window and told the cops that he was having a panic attack. The cops turned on the AC and then put us both on the curb after Billy frantically told them he felt like he was going to die.
Bill: My head was spinning, and Carey was crying, afraid she was going to go back to prison. They couldn’t find her name in the system, so the cops had us leave the borrowed car we came in, along with all of Carey’s belongings, and drove us to a Taco Bell, where they dropped us off. We had no shoes on our feet and it was 115 degrees outside.
Carey: I can still feel the blisters on my feet; it was so hot.
Bill: I knew at that moment that things had to change, and I needed to do something about it. I got a job a few months later and started working again and we eventually got our own place. Soon after, we had our second child, and that was about the time we started looking for a church.
Carey: Billy’s sister invited us to Sandals, and we started to attend regularly. But, as I began to understand the vision of Sandals, I felt like a fake to my kids and myself. I began to think about my warrant and during a service, God spoke to me and said, “It’s time.” He said, “Let me wash your feet.” That’s the first time I knew God was speaking to me. God confirmed with me that I could trust him, and he told me it was time to go to Kentucky. I turned to Bill and repeated, “It’s time.”
Bill: She had a look that was so serious, and it looked like she had seen a ghost. I understood what she meant, and my first reaction was, “I don’t think so. I had a job, kids, and there is no way you can go back to Kentucky for a twenty year sentence.”
Carey: I told him we would talk to some lawyers and figure it out. God kept assuring me that we would be fine, that our kids would be fine. God told me he would never be able to use me if I didn’t do this and trust him. We talked to a pastor at Sandals to help Billy understand what he had to do. We started selling things and we talked to a lawyer – I was scared to make that call. We found a lawyer and he told us I would only get 1-5 years if I testified now. I knew I had to go. We bought our airline tickets and I said goodbye to my kids – that was so hard for me. I wondered when would be the next time I’d see them. I had to put God before my kids, and that was scary.
Bill: I didn’t trust God. Carey had heard God’s voice, and I wondered why God would speak to her. I was fighting for my life. We spent a few days together before Carey’s court date, and I was still fighting the fact that we were in Kentucky, we had three kids at home, and I would have to go back with her and try to explain to our kids where mommy was.
Carey: The morning I would turn myself in, my lawyer was still trying to talk me out of it, but I insisted. I had to do it, and I had a peace. They didn’t have my papers ready when I showed up and I started to freak out – I believed I was going to jail that day.
Bill: I was emotionally distraught. Carey was called forward and they asked her to take a seat while they figured out her paperwork. They called her back shortly afterward, and the DA that was standing in said to book her. I watched as they put the handcuffs on Carey and took her into custody. I watched her walk away from me. It was no feeling I had ever experienced. I just gave my wife away. I didn’t know why God would do that. Why would God take her away from her kids and from me, and why did he tell her to do this? We were perfectly fine. I was hysterical, and Carey was perfectly calm.
Carey: Once I was in custody, I started to doubt that God had actually spoken to me. I would read and pray – I had a lot of time to do that. I look back now and realize that God knew exactly what he was doing.
Bill: After they took Carey into custody, I had to get on a plane by myself and come home. It was an unbelievable feeling to know you may not have your wife back home for up to five years.
Carey: By 60 days, I had a chance of the judge granting me shock probation Shock probation is granted to someone who has never been in jail before. They say that jail shocks you into changing your ways, and the judge said he had only seen someone receive shock probation once in his life, so it was a “shock” if you were granted this. I was in jail for a total of 58 days. and while things were looking hopeless, on the 59th day, the lawyer called Billy.
Bill: When I got the call from the lawyer, they informed me that they were releasing Carey from jail. Carey was free to go and I could come pick her up. I immediately dropped to my knees and started bawling. I knew in that moment that God did, in fact, speak to Carey and that he was real.
Carey: On the last day it was possible to receive shock probation, the judge granted it to me. If he hadn’t, I would have been in jail for almost four years. That next day, I got a call, and he said, “Carey, you’re a free bird, go take care of your family.” I was free, I wasn’t on probation, and there was no more time for me to do. I was free.
Bill: I could not believe that we went from running the streets to finding a church we could call home, and now we saw that God was faithful He showed us that he was always there and that he would do what he said he would.
Carey: Just a few months before, God told me he wanted to wash my feet, and I let him. Allowing him to do that brought me out of hiding. I don’t have to hide anymore, and neither do you.
Bill: You can be redeemed for whatever you’ve done; you don’t have to believe that you’re not worthy. God is waiting for you right now, and if you give him a chance, he will heal you.