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My Return to the Father

“A whiteish, amber powder that they had drawn in a line out on the hood of my car,” Texan native Kim Barlow detailed, “And they handed me a straw and said, ‘Here, Barlow, suck this up your nose?’ And I said ‘You're nuts! There is no way I'm going to do that.’"

Kim Barlow had made his share of poor choices in life. Now at 36 years old, he was one step away from making another one.

“Then all the peer pressure started and the name calling and ‘You're just a girl,’” said Kim.

While this decision could ruin his life, there was one he made over 20 years earlier that could save it. He was 12, sitting in a small church in Amarillo, Texas at the invitation of his older brother, Larry.

“Larry, he was just my mentor and I know his love for Jesus shined through him,” Kim said. “Gave my life to the Lord on that Sunday.”

Kim stayed connected to his faith and church throughout high school, in large part because of his brother. But when Kim married his high school sweetheart at 19 and was out on his own, things changed.

“Going to church was more of a duty once a month or once every six weeks than it was to go praise and worship God,” Kim admitted. “It wasn't that I was turning my back on God, it just wasn't important.”

Kim says that what was important was what Kim wanted in life. He would go through three divorces in ten years, and even give up his rights to his only daughter, Dawn. In 1990, then on his fourth marriage, he would make another life-altering decision.

He was at a party with his wife’s family, when his brothers-in-law began pressuring him to snort a line of meth.

“‘You're not a man, look at us, we do this all the time,’” Kim said echoing the taunts, “And I thought, ‘Why not?’”

That wouldn’t be Kim’s last taste of meth.

“I started wanting to feel that euphoria again,” Kim said. “The next Saturday we had the same party, same alcohol, and around midnight out came the meth and I did it again.”

Before long, he and his wife were smoking meth regularly and Kim became a functioning addict. Now working in sales at a flooring company, he became good at lying to his customers when the signs of addiction began to show.

“‘You were talking and all of a sudden, your head just dropped. Are you okay?’” Kim said, recounting a customer’s question. “‘Well, of course, I am. I’ve just been having some sleep problems here lately.’”

Driven by the high of addiction, he broke numerous sales records, and earned a promotion that landed him in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

“I mean, I was invincible,” Kim proclaimed. “I just thought nothing could be better than this.”

But all addictions have their cost, and Kim’s body was now paying the price.

“I would be eating and feel something hard and pull it out and a tooth had fallen out,” Kim said describing the toll of his addiction. “Seeing my heart just 'bam bam bam bam bam. I would literally sit here thinking, ‘Kim, you're going to die.’ But it wasn't enough to make me quit, I just wanted more."

Kim eventually left his job and moved back to Amarillo. Now divorced again and working a lower paying job, he began selling meth to finance his addiction.

“If Larry asked me to go to church I'd be like, ‘Okay, yeah, I will someday.’ But I knew I was lying right out of my teeth to my own brother. I was more about Kim, about me, and where my next fix was are going to come from,” Kim confessed. “My life was just spiraling downward.”

More years were lost to his addiction. Strung out. Hopeless. Alone. Then, at 3:00 a.m. one morning in May 2008, Kim saw an email from his brother Larry with a link to a video titled “Cardboard Testimonies”...

“A wonderful girl came up on stage and she started towards the camera holding a piece of cardboard to her chest,” Kim said describing the video. “And it (the cardboard) said, ‘Was addicted to meth.’ And then she turned it over and it said, ‘Now addicted to Him.’ And at that very moment, I knew I was convicted. Started crying uncontrollably. I just heard the Lord speak to my heart, ‘Kim, this is over and I'm going to take you out of this.’”

After 18 years of addiction, Kim knew God had set him free.

“But I couldn't wait till the next morning, not only to throw the drugs away, but to call my brother Larry and say, ‘Larry, I want to know where to meet you for church next Sunday,’” Kim said with a smile. “He was just elated and I was elated too.”

Kim was also reminded of what he had learned as a child over 40 years ago. 

“I absolutely rededicated my life to the Lord at that time and have never looked back from that. I mean, my Lord, look what He did, sent His only begotten Son to die a brutal death on the cross all while He was looking in our eyes, wanting us to have a relationship with Him one day,” he said tearfully.

Kim held on to Christian community and has remained drug-free ever since. He now partners with addiction recovery ministries and even has a relationship with his daughter Dawn.

“I'm a new creature in Him.” Kim ended by saying, “It doesn't matter what you did one minute ago, five minutes ago, or 18 years ago, Jesus is always there, and He is wanting to take you back and have a relationship with Him.”

To learn more about Kim’s story, click here.

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