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Finding a New Source of Hope

Former drug addict John Finley is a testimony of redemption.
On a January day in 2016, a drug-addicted young man on an out-of-control high began to destroy the home he shared with his parents in Breckenridge County, Kentucky. Reaching their breaking point, his parents called law enforcement to intervene.

John Ryan Finley soon found himself confined to a jail cell. His physical, mental, and emotional freedom had been seized. Any hope for his future appeared bound by a spiraling 15-year drug addiction, promiscuity, and sin. Finley spent one month detained behind bars, unaware that he would soon be set free in every way.

While awaiting an unknown future, Finley received an information book from Chad’s Hope, a ministry of Adult & Teen Challenge of Kentucky. Initially not wanting to be bothered with the Christian discipleship and restoration program, Finley rejected the opportunity for help. Yet, through the persistence of staff members and the pull from the Holy Spirit, he agreed to leave jail to live at the facility.

“When I entered Chad’s Hope, something hit me,” Finley, now 34, recalls of moving to Manchester, Kentucky, to reside at one of over 200 Teen Challenge centers throughout the U.S. “It clicked. This is where I needed to be.”

Finley accepted Christ and immediately immersed himself in biblical discipleship during the four-phase program for men who choose to overcome their addiction to drugs and alcohol. It started with a sermon message.

“I learned the truth, and I started weeping,” Finley says. “From that day forward, I wanted to do the right thing. I wanted to be a better person.”

While progressing through the program, Finley advanced in leadership responsibilities to help other men in Adult & Teen Challenge, a U.S. Missions ministry founded in 1958 by Assemblies of God pastor David Wilkerson. He now serves as operations manager at Chad’s Hope, where roughly 60% of the students come directly from being incarcerated.

Forest Quillen, 29, a 2014 graduate of Chad’s Hope, remembers the level of darkness Finley exhibited upon arrival.

“God can totally transform a person in such a way that even the music that they listen to, the way they present themselves, the way they speak, and the way they behave changes,” says Quillen, now assistant director at Chad’s Hope. “That happened in John’s life.”

Quillen says Finley’s radical transformation has been a testimony for students and staff that true restoration from addiction is possible.

“Men struggle with all kinds of issues, not just drug or alcohol abuse,” says Finley, husband of three years to Tyra LeAnn, and father to a 1-year-old daughter, Dani Brooks.

Finley draws from his own challenges as a teenager to address the issues facing men, including loneliness, isolation, and various kinds of abuse. He says while God is behind deliverance, churchgoers can plan a ministry role by acquainting themselves with the realities of alcohol and drug abuse.

“Christians need to take the time to talk to someone who is struggling,” Finley says. “They can learn just by listening to someone’s story.”

He says one of the most misconstrued concepts is that an addict is always an addict. Finley wants others who are struggling with addiction to know that any life can be redeemed.

“I am not an addict for life,” says Finley. “I want to be remembered as a man of God, not the person I used to be. I have been delivered and transformed through the love of Christ.”

His relationship with his parents, Frank and Doris Finley, has been restored and improved to better than ever before. He credits their godly prayers for turning his life around and says they now are his biggest boosters.

“I remember so many different nights I heard my mom and dad in the other room crying out to God to save me and help me and change me,” Finley says. “I just ignored what I heard and acted like I didn’t hear it. But I truly believe their prayers are the main reason I am where I am today.”

Althea Thompson Streater

Althea Thompson Streater is a doctoral student at Liberty University and has previously earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University. Thompson has over a decade of experience in journalism and public relations, including working for the Christian Broadcasting Network and Charisma Media. She resides in Orlando, Florida.