*Bryan PopeWhen I was eight years old, the Lord made himself known to me, and I readily embraced His fellowship. My newfound faith, however, was not well received at home. The Christian school I attended was not only the genesis of my awakening; it also became my central resource for affirmation and fellowship in those formative years. My mother was very spiritually-minded. She had imbibed the world’s view of Christ being another of the great moral teachers; but at some point in her life, she had violently rejected Christianity and Christian religion as a whole. We were not a typical, conservative American family and ready access to every imaginable spiritual and ideological concept affected my walk with the Lord. After years of searching for truth apart from the living God, she was able to build a relationship with Christ several decades before she died in 2009.

Early in my teen years, my views became muddled with Eastern religion, sociology, and as a matter of course, drugs and alcohol. During this time, two of my three sisters and my brother became Christians. One of my sisters tried her best to witness to me from her experience, but she knew that the personal choices and decisive actions would only come from my own acceptance of God’s will.

In 1981, I was seventeen and married. We were young and unskilled, and we struggled financially with two children, but my in-laws had a strong foundation in Christ. The floundering faith of my wife and I was revitalized as we absorbed valuable down-to-earth guidance from her family. The decades to follow were years of maturing both mentally and spiritually, but my alcoholism brought our marriage to an end. After three DUI’s with eighteen months in prison for the third one, I was on-and-off homeless for the next ten years. I now have a positive relationship with my ex-wife and children, and I do believe that my wife did the right thing in putting an end to my madness.

Prodded by my son, I moved to Kauai in 2007. Within a year I was homeless again and living in denial. I decided in 2010 to return to school in the hope of giving my life a positive direction. With a ninth-grade education and a GED, I applied at Kauai Community College for the fall semester but was hospitalized in July by a car accident. It was over a year before I could walk without a cane. Injuries aside, I reapplied for the spring 2011 session but was unable to finish because of homelessness and my problem with alcohol. My attempt at returning to school made clear to me my incapacity to deal with life sensibly. After a decade of futile efforts to gain self-control, I finally came to the painful but heartfelt conclusion that I no longer had anything left to offer, drinking or sober. This was the honesty I needed to accept God’s direction and make a real change. On Sep. 1, 2011, I entered the Hina Mauka Treatment Facility on Oahu. Academia was still on my mind, but I took good advice and worked on myself first. I graduated from the program in March, became more active in Alcoholics Anonymous, and applied for the fall 2012 semester at Windward Community College. With a broken and repentant heart, God used AA to make me honestly evaluate what turning allmy will over to the care of God means.

Our Lord has led me down an unpredictable path. I earned an Associate Degree in 2015 from WCC. I have been a peer mentor with Hina Mauka for over five years now from which I was recruited by HCORP as a paid Peer Specialist intern. I spent two years as a secondary education major at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, but felt the call to shed that role and finish my bachelor degree in U.S. History this Fall. That way I can begin my graduate program with Learning Design and Technology at UH in the Spring 2019 semester. It appears as though I may be able to apply the work I do with HCORP to a project-based degree with LTECH.

I realize now that despite my willful desire to be in control, all of those experiences have not been happenstance. The Lord has used all these circumstances and people to shape me uniquely into the man I am today. The Lord has never stepped out of my life. The Lord has never walked out of my life. Through all trial and error, He continues to bless the lives of my family and the lives of those he sends to me. I am working with the recovery community, helping men on probation to re-enter society, and God willing, I hope to develop someday a resource on Oahu that can positively affect secondary aged students who are at-risk. I certainly had different goals five years ago, and I could not have planned any of this. Though many of my Professors scoff at the notion, I continue to testify that none of this could have happened without the power of God.