My name is J.T. Jordan and I’m the Youth Pastor at Canvas Community Church. I am blessed to be married to an incredible woman of God and to be the father to three wonderful children.
I was recently asked to share part of my testimony concerning my past struggles with alcohol. It’s a part of my life that is embarrassing and also something that I’m not proud of.
I was raised in a Christian home. My mother was the worship leader at our church and both parents were heavily involved in leadership at our church.
I was saved, baptized, filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and felt the call to full time ministry in the 5th grade. I literally felt God’s hand guiding and directing my life.
From that moment in the 5th grade, doors began to open for me to sing, share my story, and serve within the church. My entire high school career was spent trying to be the model Christian student.
My desire was to live a Christ-like life and to do everything a little “Jesus boy” should do.
I was involved in FCA. I would help lead praise and worship in the auditorium before school. I was also part of leading Bible studies for middle school students.
After high school, I continued my pursuit of serving the Lord and giving Him everything I could give. I traveled for nearly a year with a southern gospel group before coming home to serve as youth, praise and worship, and discipleship leader at our church.
In my eyes, life really couldn’t get any better.
Then, I met a girl. (The ones that know my full testimony, know her as “crazy girl.”) We did not share the same world view. We didn’t share the same religious views. Really, I don’t think we shared any views together! I realized that we needed to break up, but I didn’t have the guts to do it. So, I joined the military in hopes that they would do the breaking up for me. It worked!
I joined the United States Air Force and my career began as a Chaplain Assistant. I was happy. I was able to serve both God and my country. The Air Force was good to me. I met my wife, served in the middle east during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and had so many more incredible experiences.
I went into the Chaplain Assistant career field thinking that it was going to be a “spiritual” experience. I went into it with the mindset that I was going to change the world.
During my technical school, I quickly realized that many of my classmates did not hold a lot of the same Christian values that I did. Some of them would go out for drinks after class or have study groups that included alcohol.
It was shocking to me because I was taught to totally abstain from the consumption of alcohol. My parents taught me the dangers that alcohol could have on families, careers, and ultimately your spiritual life. It bothered me to see my classmates claiming to be “Christians,” yet consuming alcohol.
I continued to remain strong in my convictions and beliefs. At my tech school graduation, I was surprised to learn that the chaplains had sponsored an open bar.
I was heartbroken.
These were chaplains, men of God – people that were supposed to be pointing others towards Jesus. I could not understand why they had sponsored an open bar. Broken hearted, I realized that I was no longer living in the Christian bubble that I had obviously grown up in.
At my first duty station, I served alongside a Catholic priest. He was extremely knowledgeable when it came to the Bible and we often had friendly theological debates.
On one occasion, he invited me, along with some of his parishioners, to his home for dinner. The beverage of choice that night was wine. Words can’t describe how I felt when that glass was placed in front of me. I was horrified, scared, and confused. I didn’t know what to do. My feelings must have been written all over my face because he asked me if everything was ok. I spoke freely and told him about my reservations as a believer towards alcohol.
When I finished sharing with him, he apologized for making me feel uncomfortable. He also told me that he would not be offended if I chose not to drink the wine.
He also expressed that he wished I did not view the consumption of alcohol as a sin. He explained the fact that the Bible does not say DON’T consume alcohol. He told me that the Bible actually said that wine was a gift from God to be enjoyed. He made the argument that alcohol should be consumed in moderation and that we shouldn’t get drunk.
The more he talked, the better a glass of wine sounded. I respected this guy. I admired the way that he eloquently advocated for the consumption of wine. We were friends. Surely, he wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction. His parishioners began to chime in with their opinions and advocating on behalf of socially drinking. I bought into their claims about the innocence of alcohol if consumed in a mature fashion.
That night I took my first drink.
When that first drop touched my lips, I fell in love. I enjoyed the taste. I finished that glass and quickly asked for another. Not only was that the night of my first drink, it was also the night that I became drunk for the first time.
That night began my battle with an addiction to alcohol.
I felt guilty about what I was doing. I felt conviction. However, the words and example of this chaplain that I respected reminded me that what I was doing was okay. In fact, soon the conviction went away. I learned that God had not stripped away the ministry from me. I was actually given even more responsibilities.
I was leading several of the worship services at the base chapel to include starting a brand new contemporary worship service. I was asked to come and say the opening prayer for a NATO Summit in Washington DC. As time progressed, ministry progressed.
As ministry progressed, so did my drinking.
The time came for me to get out of the military and I got a crazy idea that I wanted to be a country music star. I loaded up in a van and went out on the road playing country music. That adventure only escalated my drinking. After being on the road for almost a year, I hit rock bottom.
I was aware that if I didn’t do something about my drinking I was going to die. I stopped traveling and went back to work as a civilian leading worship at the base chapel. The problem was that, yes, I stopped traveling, but I did not stop drinking.
Attempting to do God’s work, while running from Him at the same time, is a miserable way to live. I was living a double life and could not deal with the conviction any longer. I had tried several times to quit drinking without seeking help from God. Nothing was working.
I eventually left the ministry.
Fast forwarding through many more details, one night my wife was driving me home from a party. I was drunk out of my mind. I decided that I needed another beer. The beer was located in the cooler, in the back of our SUV. I opened the door to our vehicle, which was going approximately 60 m.p.h., and attempted to get out. My wife was able to slow down enough that it did not kill me when I rolled out of the vehicle.
By this time, she had put up with all she could take of my alcoholic antics. She was so fed up, that she left me in the ditch that night. I remember thinking as I looked up at the stars, that I had really messed up my life. I wasn’t in ministry anymore. I was about to lose my wife and family. My world was crashing down all around me.
The next night, I was laying on the couch, drunk, when I heard a familiar voice coming from the television. I opened my eyes to find my former youth pastor/ pastor on the screen swinging a baseball bat. I honestly thought I was dreaming. I couldn’t figure how my television ended up on the Trinity Broadcast Network. (That was not my channel of choice.) I also couldn’t believe that he was preaching on that channel.
Then, he looked into the television camera, pointed the baseball bat towards it, and shouted “YOU! Yes, I’m talking to you!”
I thought to myself then, that I had to quit drinking because things were getting a little freaky.
He read from Ezekiel 22:30, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”
He shared about the power of one person. He proclaimed that God was looking for a few good men who would stand in the gap on behalf of the land. I knew he was talking straight to me as he said “God has intended you for great things. Stop running from your calling and be the man that God has created you to be.”
In that moment, even though I had been drinking, I had never felt more sober in my life.
I realized that my view of alcohol and social drinking was wrong, and that it was time to lay my viewpoint on the altar of sacrifice. I fell to my knees and out of desperation I cried out “MY GOD! I’m a sinner. I’m an alcoholic. I’m about to lose my family, my ministry, and God…you’re all I have left. Forgive me, fix me, and make me the man that you want me to be.”
God had not forgotten me. He still had a plan for my life. He restored me.
I learned some valuable lessons during that time of my life. No, the Bible doesn’t specifically say, “Thou shalt not drink any alcoholic beverage,” but, I have personally seen the effects that alcohol can have on a person’s life. I’ve witnessed the barrier that it creates between a person and God. As a deputy sheriff, nearly every domestic violence situation that I responded to, almost always involved alcohol.
Through all of this I learned the reality found in 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)which says, You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
As a leader, I also don’t want to be a stumbling block for those that respect and look up to me. I respected that chaplain. I looked up to him as a leader and an officer. I believed him and his speech about drinking in moderation.
The problem was, I didn’t have a moderation button that I could push, to stop me from taking another drink when I was about to cross the line of being drunk. I allowed that chaplain to be a stumbling block and in turn, I became a stumbling block for others.
I had close friends that ended up in jail for DUI, divorced, and some still struggling with that addiction. As a leader, with a clear conscious, I can’t endorse or teach that it’s okay to drink alcohol.
There are too many other people’s lives and their eternity that is at stake. Maybe it is permissible, but I believe in no way, is it beneficial.
This is my story.