From Darkness To Light

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 19, 2003

Todd Sasser has been on a long, treacherous journey - a journey from the darkness and destruction of alcohol and drugs to the light and love of Jesus Christ.

Alcohol and drug stories are as common as a "bad" cold and Sasser said he knows that most people are tired of hearing them.

"But once you come out of the darkness and destruction of alcohol and drugs, it's like you have been born again and you're so excited that you want to share it with others," he said. "I don't know if people learn from the mistakes of others but when you mess up your life so bad, you don't want others to fall into the same dark pit.

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"I was in the pits of hell and God gave me a new life and I want to praise and glorify Him. If my story can save just one person from what I've been through, then it's worth telling."

The story Todd Sasser has to tell is probably a story that should never have been.

His childhood was happy and he came from a good family. His mother was a Christian and she brought him up in the way he should go.

However, peer pressure was strong enough to shake loose the teachings of his upbringing and, around age 16, Sasser "got hooked" on alcohol.

"I drank beer and some stronger stuff, but I hated drugs," he said. "I had seen what drugs could do and I didn't want any part of that."

But six years later, one bad decision and Sasser fell into a pit and couldn't pull himself out.

"Things were going good in my life," he said. "I was in a bar and a friend - or someone I thought was a friend - offered me some coke. I told him that I didn't do drugs, but he said one time wouldn't hurt. It would be fun. I thought I didn't have anything to lose."

One time did hurt.

"The coke made me feel better about myself," he said. "I was able to approach girls easier and they seemed to like me more. It was a good high and I was hooked."

For a while, Sasser was able to manage his life on coke.

"I had a construction company and was making good money," he said. "I was married and had a good wife. I don't know why I thought I needed drugs to get me through the day. I was buying a lot and selling too."

Soon coke wasn't enough to satisfy Sasser's "habit" and he turned to a drug called "crank."

"I was always running, trying to find something," he said.

Instead he lost the things very dear to him - his wife and family and his business.

"My wife left me and I couldn't blame her. Nobody in their right mind wants to live with a drug head. I lost a part of my life. Drugs turned me in the wrong direction and on the path of destruction."

Sasser's dad was diagnosed with cancer and Sasser blamed God for the suffering his dad was having to endure.

"My daddy was a good man, but he had not accepted Christ," Sasser said. "My daddy had a good woman behind him and my mother prayed everyday that he would be saved. My daddy suffered so much. He screamed in pain and prayed to die. He said he couldn't live like that."

Before he died, Sasser's dad accepted Christ and entered into the family of God.

"That is one of the greatest memories of my life, getting to see my daddy come to know the Lord and to know that through God's grace he was saved."

But, Sasser was not concerned about his own salvation.

He attempted to drown his sorrow in alcohol and with drugs. His highs were extreme and his lows were "the pits."

"No matter what I did or how much I did, I couldn't get things off my mind," he said. "I guess I passed out, but, when I woke up I had this uncontrollable desire to go to church. I got up and got out the clothes I was going to wear.

They sang songs that day and had a long sermon but I didn't hear a word the preacher said. All I knew was that a peace came over me like I had never known. I was so cold I started to shiver. I just took off over the pews. I had to get to the altar."

When Sasser left the church, he wasn't able to keep his feet on the ground.

"I had this wonderful warm peace about me and I knew God had saved me.

For five months, Sasser stayed on the straight and narrow. He read the Bible, prayed and stayed away from the "evils" that had torn his life apart.

"God has saved me but the temptations the devil put before me brought me right back into the darkness of the pit of hell," he said. "This time, it was even worse.

I got into crystal-meth and I learned to cook it. Over the next months, I lost my second wife, my family, my house and land and my business."

Sasser's mother saw her son sinking to the lowest point in his life.

"One night I heard a sound coming from my mother's bedroom," Sasser said. "I went to the door and listened. She was crying and praying for me. I can never thank her enough for loving me the way she did."

Sasser felt the overwhelming presence of God and heard his words, "Son, it's time. Let me help you."

He entered the 16-week Christian Recovery Program offered through the Christian Mission Centers and, when he emerged, his life was forever changed.

Sasser knows how easy it is to slip back into past habits, but he knows this time, he is steadfast in his walk with the Lord.

He can still see the smile on his mother's face when she realized that he had let God come back into his life.

"She loved me when I was a sinner," he said. "She loved me as God loved me and God forgave me just as she did. How blessed I am that God is a forgiving God and that my mother prayed for me and that I am a saved man today."

With Sasser's experience and expertise in construction, he would be making $16 or more an hour. Instead, he is working for minimum wage with the Christian Mission Centers.

"This is where God wants me to be so I can share my struggles and my triumph with others," he said. "I know where they are because I have been in the pits of hell, too. And, I know that life doesn't have to be that way. If you let God guide your life, you can find peace and happiness. And, I can tell, for sure, that God will not give up on you. You might give up on yourself but God will never give up. He sent his Son to die for our sins. If Jesus died for me the least I can do is live for him."