Overcoming Manifold Obstacles

Overcoming Manifold Obstacles

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Drew Morrison started smoking marijuana in seventh grade and that led to educational and legal dilemmas. School authorities in Claremore, Oklahoma, expelled the youth for fighting and a county court placed him on probation after being convicted of assault and battery. By the age of 15, his steady weed habit morphed into an addiction to prescription painkillers.

The following year, Morrison caved to peer pressure and began smoking methamphetamines and dropped out of high school.

“I replaced an addiction with a worse addiction,” says Morrison, now 25.

Morrison at 16 sold many of his possessions, even his shoes, to raise money to buy meth. When he ran out of belongings to hock, he began to steal video games from Walmart for resale at Game X Change. Still 16, Morrison moved in with a woman nearly twice his age. He repeatedly pilfered all eight ingredients needed for her to cook meth in a homemade lab.

“I became her little servant,” Morrison says. “She gave me cooked meth as a reward.”

Eventually, Morrison moved in with an older male relative in Houston and the two regularly got high together because Morrison knew how to whip up a batch of meth in only a couple of hours. But his relative had a literal witch of a girlfriend, and Morrison began seeing demons in the apartment. Even though he had no religious upbringing, Morrison realized the spiritual battle being waged for his soul.

When his mother Shelli Overacker called on his cellphone, Morrison broke down.

“I started crying hard,” Morrison recalls. “I told her I was sorry I had wasted my life on drugs.”

Overacker arranged for her son, technically still a runaway at the time, to enroll at Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch in Morrow, Arkansas. En route, Morrison slipped into a gas station restroom for a final buzz from meth.

Upon arrival at Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch, Morrison immediately embarked on a three-day hike sponsored by the outdoor-emphasis ministry (Teen Challenge is a department of U.S. Missions).

“When I got there I hated the accountability, the structure, the discipline,” Morrison remembers. Although many Adventure Ranch students have a breakthrough within the first couple of weeks, Morrison stayed out of control for six months. He nearly faced expulsion from the program.

Morrison credits Kyle Tate, who served as a schoolteacher at Adventure Ranch, with having a lasting impact on his life.

“Kyle had been on meth and got free, so that gave me hope,” Morrison says.

Tate, who graduated from Alabama Teen Challenge after six years as a meth addict and multiple arrests, says he wondered whether Morrison would finish the program.

“Drew was the hardest kid I ever had at Teen Challenge,” says Tate, who worked at Adventure Ranch from 2010-15. “He came in as a drug user and was super rebellious in any situation.”

The turning point happened when Morrison’s mentor in the program, Mark Welbourn, went on a 21-day fast on behalf of the most troublesome students. Morrison came to believe in the reality of Jesus as God’s Son, and nightly for three months he poured out his sorrows to Him. For the first time in his life, Morrison studied Scripture. He accepted Jesus as Savior and Teen Challenge staff discipled him.

“After Drew started reading the Bible some of the results were immediate and some took longer,” says Tate, who lives in Gatlin, Mississippi, and is in nursing school. Tate, 34, now is good friends with Morrison.

In 2011, after a 13-month stay at Adventure Ranch, Morrison entered the Youth With a Mission center in Ozark, Arkansas, for further Bible study. While there, at 19, he married his wife, Sarah.

Morrison went back to Adventure Ranch and served on staff for 3½ years. As a direct care supervisor, he trained and equipped staff, organized activities, and handled crisis situations.

“I didn’t have as much sympathy with the kids as some of the other staff members,” Morrison says. “I was able to see past the manipulation of students playing the victim because it was the same stuff I had tried to get away with.”

Despite all the strikes he had against him — growing up in a broken home with multiple stepfathers; being addicted to drugs for years; having no faith background; marrying as a teenager — Morrison is on solid ground.

“What I love most is when I see a kid like Drew who came in here a meth addict needing to be restrained transformed into a godly, Spirit-filled dad,” says Darren J. Reynolds, Teen Challenge Adventure Ranch executive director and a U.S. missionary.

Morrison became a mentor to Reynolds’ youngest child, Caleb, now 20.

“Drew is an amazing man of God, who brings a Spirit-empowered anointing on whatever he does,” says Reynolds, 50. “He has a strong drive for excellence.”

In February, Morrison went back to work at YWAM Ozarks, where he is involved in prayer ministry and organizing youth conferences. He and Sarah now have three children: Ellen Rose, 5; Noah, 3; and Luke, 1. Morrison plans on seeking ministerial credentials through the AG Arkansas School of Ministry.

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