A Life Seemingly Destined for Hell Now Guides People to Christ
Jared Bellan’s life was out of control. Although he came from a loving family, he got mixed up with the wrong crowd when he was 11 years old, and started doing drugs. By 16 he was hooked on a cocktail of marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, and heroin.
Five years later, Bellan’s choices had left a trail of pain and destruction in his path. Friends and family had been repeatedly betrayed and hurt; his family was left fractured in the ruins of his life.
“I was in this downward spiral,” Bellan recalls. “I felt like it was this black hole with no escape — it kept pulling me in again and again and again.”
When Bellan, then 22, was pulled over by the police, strung out on a heroin-based cocktail of drugs, with his drug-addicted pregnant girlfriend in the front seat next to him, and his car loaded with drugs he was transporting, it would seem it was the darkest day of his life.
But that wasn’t the case. Being arrested and hauled off to jail was quite possibly one of the best days of his life, only he didn’t know it — yet.
“When the police called and told us Jared was in jail and what the charges were, we were so thankful,” says Trudy Bellan, Jared’s mother. “At least he wasn’t coming home in a wooden box!”
Although Jared says he really didn’t even know who Christ was at that time, a jail church service drew his attention. The service was based on Matthew 7:7 (knock and the door will be opened). The words penetrated Jared’s heart and life and he soon found himself contemplating his life, including that he was soon to be the father of a son born addicted to drugs.
Desperate, he prayed: “Everybody else says you’re God. If that’s true, I really need your help.” The next thing he knew, an overwhelming peace came over him and he began to repent, telling God all the terrible things he had done and the people he had hurt. The next morning, he totally surrendered his life to Christ.
A few weeks later, Jared was out of jail on bond, awaiting sentencing, when he learned his girlfriend was giving birth to their son, Jayden. When he was born, doctors immediately sent Jayden to the neonatal intensive care unit as he was fighting for his life, and losing. After days of fighting for Jayden’s life, doctors quietly informed Jared his son was not going to make it.
“I knew what was happening to Jayden had a lot to do with the lifestyle I lived and choices I made,” Jared admits. “We gathered around him and I prayed, ‘Lord, don’t let Jayden suffer for the poor decisions I made, please help him.’”
The moment the prayer ended and the small group opened their eyes, they looked to see Jayden open his eyes for the first time in days.
“All of a sudden there were all these noises as machines started going off and doctors started rushing in,” Jared says, the thrill of the moment still evident in his voice.
Later a doctor would call Jared aside, and tell him, “I don’t know whatever you got a hold of, but whatever you have, never lose it. That was a medical miracle — there’s no medical reason for your son to be alive.”
Today, Jayden is a healthy, active 12-year-old who doctors confirmed, over several years of testing, has never suffered any ill effects from his parents being drug addicts before and throughout the pregnancy.
Jayden’s biological mother didn’t want anything to do with him, so she signed over the rights to Jared early on and took off. The only problem was, due to the amount of drugs Jared had been caught with, he knew he would be serving years in a federal prison.
Jared started attending a small Assembly of God church, First AG in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The people there loved and embraced him, unconditionally, much like his mother continued to do. And then, even though he couldn’t fathom why God was leading him in this direction with years of prison awaiting him, he submitted his application to attend Bible school.
During this time, Jared’s family also started to notice the extreme change in behavior taking place in his life.
“We had done a lot of hard praying and soul searching, whether or not we should even bring him back into the house,” Trudy admits. “After he came home from the arrest, we sat him down and told him, ‘One strike and you’re done.’ Thank heaven we never had to do anything with that.”
Trudy explains that even though the family always went to church, when they witnessed the transformation in Jared’s life and Jayden’s miracle, she and her husband, David, who passed away in 2010, began to more fully understand and embrace having a personal relationship with Christ.
The day for sentencing arrived and the judge reviewed the quantity of drugs Jared was caught with, which required a 5- to 10-year federal prison sentence. Jared’s lawyer sought to reduce the time to 2 to 4 years in a state prison, which was in itself a hefty reduction.
But something odd was going on. The judge began talking, almost as if to himself rather than the courtroom. Jared recalls that as the judge contemplated the charges, he began to ponder out loud. “You were caught with a lot of drugs . . . I don’t know if I could do anything . . . if I had to do it for you, I would have to do it for everyone else . . . I have a son who has a son . . .”
Finally the judge paused, then made his pronouncement. “I’m not going to send you to prison. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I’m giving you 16-months probation and a second chance at life.”
It was yet another miracle from God! Tears streamed down Jared’s face in disbelief and thankfulness.
Jared would go on to justify the judge’s decision and God’s faithfulness. He attended Bible college, and during that time he met and married his wife, Melissa, who then adopted Jayden.
“God did a restoration work in my life and my family’s lives,” Jared says about his time at Bible school, then laughs and adds, “I thought I was going to be that guy always living in his mother’s basement!”
“You can be religious and know who Christ is,” Trudy observes, “but when you go through all of those things, you truly come to know Him and you realize you would never be able to do any of this without Him by your side. It was the only way we made it through.”
Jared, who now has a second son, Jacob, with Melissa, would graduate from Bible school. His initial ministry involved serving in crusades for several years, witnessing incredible miracles as he worked with evangelist Ruth Fisher. But then he and Melissa felt the call to church planting.
“I met Jared in 2006,” recalls CityReach Network President and Founder Brian Bolt. “He had just been recently saved at that time. A few years later, I got a call to meet with Jared about working together to plant a church in Pittsburgh — the rest is history.”
The “history” Bolt refers to is Jared proved to be very adept at church planting. Bolt would ask him to join his ministry as the church planting director. In the last 5 years of working with Bolt, Jared has helped plant more than 60 churches, with at least 30 more to launch this year.
Jared also expresses appreciation for the support and assistance of many organizations along the way, including Church Multiplication Network and AGTrust. “We wouldn’t be able to do it without them and the collaboration with some great districts and many like-faith organizations who have partnered with us across the country,” he says.
“It’s amazing — he’s an incredible leader,” Bolt says of Jared. “But those forgiven much, tend to love much, and he has a love for seeing God’s kingdom advance. God has rescued him, saved him, and given him a purpose.”
Bolt also notes the impact Jared’s salvation has made, as the ripple effect has spread from Jared, to his family, and now through the scores of churches planted across the U.S. and even into Canada.
“The ripple effect of the gospel, it’s like the ripple never ends, you never see the end of the ripple as the kingdom of God keeps advancing!” Bolt says.