PARTY ANIMAL TO DISCIPLE
A story of the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol and divine intervention.
“I learned much later that this combination was not a good mix. Coupled with my occasional bouts of epilepsy, I was flirting with death” – Dan Masa
One might think that after attending Catholic school from first to eighth grade I’d have come away with some religious experience of reverential fear toward God. But, I didn’t. No spiritual impact had been imparted whatsoever. Perhaps, my family background played a role as to why. My parents were the epitome of party animals. I was thrust repeatedly into the mist of what they considered weekend fun. Yes, wild parties and drinking was the family staple. “Carouser” could have well been our last name, and we wore it proudly.
Well, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Like my parent’s, I became a party animal in my adulthood. For me, drinking and all-night bashes were just a part of life, and of course, I didn't see anything wrong with it. I grew into a heavy boozer, which led to a life of drugs. I learned much later that this combination was not a good mix. Coupled with my occasional bouts of epilepsy, I was flirting with death. However, even that didn’t stop me from my pursuit of drugs and alcohol. I was ignorant…totally oblivious as to the damage I was inflicting on my body. Only by the mercy of God was I spared during those times.
LIFE WITH DRUGS
I used cocaine in my high school years, and from then on, my life became a search for the next high. I had no idea how deep in I was – my moral compass was shot, and I had no one to give me the advice I needed to make better choices. Ironically, I was the go-to guy for counsel and support for others. Hmm, how funny, I never took my own advice.
As a young man, I landed my first job at a convenience store. It was the perfect setup. Working as a clerk, I quickly found a convenient way to steal from the store shelves to support my habit. Each night, for the duration of my employment, I packed away bottles of alcohol and magazines and never got caught. Somehow, I ventured on to my chosen profession, which was plumbing - an honest craft, but a lot of hard work at times. Along the way, I met a guy named Scott, who was no novice to the drug and alcohol world. We soon became “best buds” drawn together like magnets. It was the worst hookup I could have made. And with neither of us the wiser, we went even further down the wrong road together. However, in spite of my addiction, I was able to function normally. You know, holding down a job and that sort of thing. Today it’s known as being a “functioning addict.” As for the seizures I’d been having – well, I couldn’t have cared less.
Plumbing allotted me the means to support my habit. I reported for work daily and on time, performing my duties very well. I received promotions that lead to a bigger salary, and I even bought my first house. Things were going well, or so I thought.
The body can only take so much before things begin to malfunction. Little did I know, my life was about to take a turn for the worse. It was a typical work day, and I was driving a company pick-up truck. I was heading down a four-lane road in a residential area. The night before, I’d been out indulging in my usual carousing, and I hadn’t had much sleep. I often functioned on four hours or less. This time, I’d only had two hours—and my body was still filled with drugs and alcohol. Half asleep with a good hangover, I blacked out.
I don’t remember anything after that, but here’s the story I was told: After blacking out, my truck went across all four traffic lanes. It missed two utility poles by a slim margin, went down an embankment, then into a retention pond where it flipped. I was submerged under the water of that pond, for forty-five minutes. During that time a passerby spotted my truck and called 911. The nearest hospital was two miles away, but the injuries I sustained were so severe that I had to be airlifted to a hospital fifteen miles away.
According to the medical staff, I was barely hanging on when I arrived. While the doctors worked frantically to save my life, I died multiple times and was brought back to life. It was no coincidence that the accident happened during the winter. I’ll never forget it. The date was December 16, 1988, in a suburb of Chicago. The doctors explained that the weather was in my favor because the cold temperature slowed down the process and miraculously preserved my brain. The next thing I remember is sitting in a wheelchair. I have absolutely no recollection of the trauma that my body went through.
ADJUSTING TO MY NEW LIFE
Recovery was a slow process. I was eventually assigned to rehab to learn how to function all over again. I would have years of painstaking exercises ahead. However, through all of this, I hadn’t given a single thought about God. I had no idea that it was He who’d spared my life – thanking Him for saving my life was out of the question. I was clueless. But over time, things slowly began to change.
Once back on my feet, I depended on a cane for stability. I’d come a long way. Shortly after this a friend invited me to a Wednesday night meeting at his church. By then, I’d decided I needed some religion, so I started attending a Catholic Bible study. Again, I’m sorry to say that I didn’t get much out of it. But unbeknownst to me, God was working out the particulars on my behalf.
I happened to run across a long-time friend named Randy who had attended plumbing school with me. I was surprised to learn that he was a born-again believer. He spoke to me about his church which was Christian and I was intrigued. After sitting in a few of the studies I was touched as the Word came alive. For the first time I heard the gospel taught on a regular basis. It was there I repented of my sins, accepted Christ, and was baptized.
The Bible study not only gave me more spiritual insight, but I was also blessed to meet my present wife Doris to boot. She was the next best thing that could have happened to me, after Christ.
When I look back, I’m so thankful for the great mercy of my heavenly Father. Just the thought that I was hell bound, and God miraculously stepped in and spared my life. In all of that, He was saying to me, “Death can’t have you because I love you too much, Dan – I’m not done with you yet.” For this reason, I will tell my story of God’s mercy wherever I go, for His glory.
Hi my name is Jenny Baldwin. I was raised by my grandparents Ethel & Stanley Preach. My real mother was young & not around. She left me & moved to California at 18. I didn’t have a dad except my grandfather. My grandmother was a very loving woman, soft spoken, with patience that loved God. I was raised in the catholic faith and attended church every Sunday as a young girl. I went to CCD classes on Saturdays. Received my confirmation and first communion as a child. My grandparents had me in catholic private schools from elementary to high school. We lived out in the Tucson foothills area since I was 7. We had horses, raised chickens & rabbits. Had a dog. Started riding horses when I was 7 & was in a horse riding club & in 4H. Also was in a lot of youth horse activities like horse shows, rodeo parades & county fairs. The Lord Jesus gave me a wonderful childhood. At 16 I started drinking alcohol at bars & night clubs with my friends. It was becoming a habit. My first marriage was at age 19. We had 3 children and were only married 5 years. My children were Tracy, Christy, & Julie Ann. Maried my 2nd husband Donnie at 27. We had 4 children together Amanda, Christopher, Joshua & Tonia. Lost most of my children to CPS except Tonia due to my drinking. Donnie had drug addictions & went to prison many times. Then I cried out to God to help me get off this alcohol. I came back to Jesus. Started praying more. Also started attending AA meetings & went to detox centers 2 or 3 times. Still had not hit my bottom yet. Still drinking & Donnie was in & out of prisons from his addictions. We wanted to get sober & clean. He worked on himself in prison & I worked on myself out here. Donnie started hanging out with Christian inmate groups. I went to visit him every weekend & we would share about what Jesus was doing in our lives. I was out of church for years, but Jesus was convicting me every time I would pass a church. My eyes were locked on that building. So one day a neighbor we knew invited me to his church & I agreed to it. Tonia my youngest daughter was about 3 or 4. We both went to Northwest Baptist church & was then baptized & gave my life back to Jesus Christ.