My name is Peter Chen, and I am an incredibly, overwhelmingly, grateful recovering addict. I have been clean from drugs for 6 years, alcohol and cigarettes for 2, and sexually sober for almost three months. It is through the journey of recovery that I also recovered my relationship with God. I am forever grateful to Operation Dawn for changing my trajectory of rebellion to a trajectory towards God. This is the story of my experience, strength, and hope:
I hit bottom in 2010. Up until that point, I had been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, depression, porn and dependency relationships, and a slew of bad habits that accompanied my addictive patterns. Through my own insistence on self-will and refusal to admit my powerlessness over my addiction, I hit bottom after bottom until I was kicked out of my mom’s house, rejected by family and friends, dropped out of college, and left out on the streets with no money, no job, and nowhere left to run. It was at that point that I was finally able to admit that my life had become unmanageable, and that I needed help. Providentially, right at that time, my mother heard about Operation Dawn through a friend of hers. After contacting Pastor Yao, we set up a time to meet face to face and check out the Rehab Center. When we got there, to my surprise, the place did not look like the typical rehab center I had in my mind. I was thinking of a huge facility much like a clinic. What I came to was a two story house, with a front lawn and two-car garage. Another surprise was that there was only one other student there. I heard Pastor Yao’s story about how he was addicted to heroin for over a decade and had been in and out of jail several times. Finally, after coming to Operation Dawn in Taiwan, he not only recovered from his addiction, but also became a follower of Jesus. Subsequently, he became a Pastor and now helps minister to drug addicts. I was blown away by his testimony. Even though at the time, I knew little about the Gospel or God, there was no denying God’s power to change broken men through this man’s testimony. I made the decision to come to Operation Dawn and commit to staying the entire length of 18 months. I ended up staying for two years in the program, and throughout my stay I was constantly confronted with difficult people, emotions, and circumstances. I have to admit, I did not change immediately. The self-justifying part of me wanted to blame my problems on others, and I sharpened my focus on the flaws of others to keep from looking within myself and facing my own junk. However, I was treated with grace by the staff, who bore with my grumbling and treated me with compassion. I graduated the program with a spiritual foundation and a newfound recovery community that has since been vital to my ongoing recovery. One big takeaway I have learned from being in Operation Dawn has been that you cannot do recovery alone. It takes a village to raise a child, and recovery only works in community. There are vital elements of recovery that can only be experienced in community with other fellow addicts and brothers/sisters: working through difficult emotions, exposing faulty core beliefs, learning how to love, forgive, reconcile, and confront, and celebrating signs of growth together. We are addicts not just because of our addictions but because of our unhealthy addictive patterns of coping with life. Until I came to grips with the reality of what’s going on inside me, I was deceiving myself. However, if I stopped there, I would be left in despair. What I also needed was unconditional acceptance and affirmation in spite of the baggage I carried. And that’s what Operation Dawn provided for me: a people and a place where I could learn to face myself in all my flaws and still feel safe and loved. Through Operation Dawn I have learned to be comfortable in my own skin, and to look at the world for what it really is, and still have hope in God’s redemptive plan for me and humanity. Since then I have learned that although I am an addict, and always will be one, my primary identity is a beloved Child of God. As such, I am no longer primarily a sinner, I am a saint and a new creation. This critical change in identity has helped me to acknowledge my sin without self-flagellation, speak truth to others without condemning them, and learn to celebrate growth in myself and others. I strongly believe in Operation Dawn’s ministry of recovery of the addict, not just from bondage of addiction, but into a vibrant relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ. And it is because of this ministry that I am now free from drugs & alcohol, a follower of Jesus, and able to take responsibility for my life. Praise God that even though I have been faithless, He is forever faithful to His children (2 Timothy 2:13)!