John Verrill of Duluth, Minnesota came close to death as a child!

“I was taking a bath when my mother came in the bathroom. I was splashing the water. She grabbed hold of me and held me under the water. I thought I was going to die. Her face was ghoulish as she shoved me to the bottom of the tub. At the last minute, she pulled me out.”

The physical abuse worsened in time.

“Mother made a whip out of clothesline wire. She used it on me whenever she felt I had disobeyed her. One time, she tied me to a tree. Our home was finally broken apart because of alcohol and the abuse. I didn’t know I had 11 brothers and sisters until I was 21 years old.”

During his teen years, John turned to parties, alcohol and drugs as he was trying to cope with the memories of child abuse.

“A friend of mine told me the drugs would erase the pain. Although they didn’t make me happy, I didn’t care about anything when I was using. The pain of not having a mother’s love is horrendous. It was by far much worse than the whip and the drowning attempts in the bathtub. The drugs became my coping mechanism.”

Although he became a Christian at the age of 21, John’s life was marred by extreme alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.

“I traveled the circuit of gambling casinos in Minnesota and Wisconsin.The first six months I was on a roll having won over 50 thousand dollars. The winnings encouraged me to keep on gambling. But, the money was secondary to what I was really doing. I was still trying to escape my childhood. But, everything came to a head when I started losing. I lost my house, my car, every paycheck for two years and my self-respect Gambling became a bondage I couldn’t get out of. I soon became a seasoned liar in order to survive.”

Although he got married, John’s lifestyle of alcoholism and drug abuse quickly ended the relationship. When he started stealing from one of his sons, John knew he needed help.

“My son was out of state when I broke into his storage shed and pawned some of his stuff. When he found out, both of us were devastated.Gambling overtook my life, pride and everything I had. I was at my rock bottom---wanting to end my life. I wanted to drive my car into a brick wall.”

Instead of suicide, John asked for help and got it!

“I told God, ’What ever it takes for me to serve you as Lord of my life, go ahead and do it. God soon became the focal point of my life. He gave me the idea for a ministry to help hurting women. I was now finally free of the addictions. I know I am God’s son. He is using me to help others. For a long time, I was a ‘fencer,’ a Christian who is living with one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in the world. ‘Fencers’ have accepted Christ as Savior, but not as Lord of their lives. There’s a scripture that says ‘My people perish because of lack of knowledge.’ I sought the whole truth and God soon unveiled the parts I was missing---who Jesus Christ really was, what happened on the cross and how Christ was my strength. When we walk in God’s spirit, we are able to walk totally and victoriously in the joy of the Lord. With His encouragement, I no longer linger in the abuse I endured as a child. I have forgiven my mother after all these years.”

Three years ago, John Verrill, who has a master’s degree in Christian Counseling, founded the The Prodigals, a support group for people who are struggling with addictions.

“The Prodigals is a place where Christians and others can get support to begin a whole new life. Our goal is to make Jesus Christ our Savior and the Lord of our lives. There is victory in Jesus!”

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