By Mark Ellis —
His parents divorced when he was five-years-old, which crushed him emotionally and set him on a downward path toward addiction, violence, and jail time.
“I wanted my family, my mom and dad, to be together, but it did not work out,” Caleb McCall recounts on a Be the Bush podcast. “They were both Christians. I didn’t speak until I was four years old and when I did speak I had a speech impediment and had to go to speech classes.”
At 11 he was introduced to drugs and alcohol. “By 13 I was a full-blown functioning addict. I was smoking marijuana every single day,” he says.
At that time his best friend’s brother came home from prison and decided it would be a good idea to introduce Caleb to cocaine. Caleb began using it and selling it to his eighth grade friends. He experienced his first arrest for drinking and fighting in an apartment complex.
“In junior high school, I had already developed into a drug dealer and entrepreneur of sorts and began to love the lifestyle of fast money. I loved shoes and clothes and all these things.”
In 2003 Caleb became obsessed by rapper 50 Cent’s album, Get Rich or Die tryin.’ “That’s all I was consumed with, all I wanted to be like him, like other rappers.
“My parents thought some things was going on but they didn’t know how bad it was because I was a master manipulator. I lied to my parents all the time. When things got bad from a negative standpoint I would pack my bags and leave and my dad would remove me from my situations to try to keep me out of trouble.”
He graduated from high school after attending three different schools, but not before his girlfriend got pregnant. His drug dealing became even more lucrative.
“I lived in one of the nicest neighborhoods here in my hometown with four cars in the driveway, people living there. My life was wild and crazy,” he recounts.
Caleb turned down scholarship opportunities to play college basketball and continued to sell drugs.
At 19, he got robbed and beaten by two individuals he considered friends. “When that happened I didn’t retaliate. This is the drug world. You don’t retaliate; things get ugly.”
A few weeks later he had a .45 caliber pistol stuck into his chest at a Walmart gas station. “There was a crack deal that went wrong with them a couple weeks before that, but this was the world and the life I was wrapped up in.”
After the second robbery he said, “This is never going to happen to me again.”
Caleb moved from Chevyville to Manchester, got his own place, and a new set of friends. He started injecting steroids and a streak of violence broke out in his life that lasted seven years. “I couldn’t go anywhere without fighting someone,” he recounts.
The only things he cared about were drugs and money. One day he made the mistake of mixing pain pills with blood pressure medication. “I started walking about and passed out. I called the poison control center and they said I needed to get to the emergency room quick; you’re about to die.”
Caleb didn’t want to go to the hospital because he was on parole at the time. “I got up to go to the bathroom and started to pass out. The room went dark and I saw stars shooting by and I yelled the name of Jesus and I just snapped out of it.”
He stayed in bed another three days asking God, “Please don’t let me die like this, please don’t let me die like this. God, I’ll never take drugs again.”
He survived but didn’t completely surrender his life to Jesus Christ. “There is power in the name of Jesus,” he recognized. “I just said the name of Jesus and I snapped out of me dying.”
At 21, he received his first felony charge. “I had married my son’s mother. It didn’t take her 10 months before she packed her bags and left. I was crazy; I was violent; I would punch holes in the wall, rip doors off the wall; my life was a mess,” he admits.
After he snapped his ankle playing football in the back yard with buddies, doctors prescribed painkillers. “This is where my opioid addiction kicked in. At 22 I didn’t have insurance. I went to the hospital and they sent me home with pain killers and they took over my life.”
A year and a half later he left a friend’s wedding and flipped a jeep after mixing Xanax, prescription meds and vodka. “I could have killed myself,” he says. “I can tell you testimony after testimony of how I should be dead. I’ve been hit across the head with bats, knives pulled on me, brawls, all these things.
But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Amazingly, God’s loving-kindness and the seeds planted in his youth drew Caleb back to church.
“At 24 I walked through the doors of Canvas Community Church. My first Sunday I was on crutches and I wore sunglasses in the back. I smelled like a pack of Marlboros and a liquor store. I had been drinking. I was on crutches from a fight a few nights before, on a Friday. I kicked somebody in the head.”
Pastor Johnny Chase noticed Caleb sitting in the back and invited him to lunch.
Caleb thought, If this guy knows anything about me he’s not going to want to go to lunch with me…what’s wrong with this guy?
The two began to have lunch periodically and Pastor Johnny shared the gospel with him. “I kept coming to church but began to operate within a whirlwind of hypocrisy,” he says.
One day the pastor asked, “What do you do for a living?”
Caleb lied to him, saying: “I do home improvements and work from home.”
“That’s great. Why don’t you come down to church and help us out?
Caleb went to help with the church painting project and later, the pastor asked him to watch a video testimony by Todd White.
As Caleb watched White’s testimony, he immediately related to him. He thought, My God if you will do it for this man will you do it for me?
I believe that you’re real. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But I need to change my life. I don’t know how to change my life. Help me…
Even though Caleb attended church, he didn’t spend time alone with God, reading his Word. “Nothing was changing in my heart because the Word of God was not getting in,” he admits. The “whirlwind of hypocrisy” continued for many months.
He and his wife were in and out of each other’s lives. She joined the Navy and when she returned from bootcamp Caleb was high on drugs. After a fight erupted, she took off, leaving him with five-year-old Aiden. “She didn’t speak to him or me anymore and didn’t tell us where she was.
“Now I’m in the middle of addiction trying to raise my five year old son by myself, a broken individual.”
Two years later she returned and they got into another donnybrook. “I went to jail again. I was in and out of jail all the time. My son went back with her and that lasted four months before he went back with my family.”
Completely defeated, Caleb went to Pastor Johnny and said, “Look, I can’t do this anymore. Is there anything you can do to help me?”
“Caleb, have you ever heard of Teen Challenge?” he asked.
He knew about the Christian drug rehab ministry because his mother went through it in 1982. “I spent a year there,” Caleb recounts. “It was incredible. I devoured the Word of God for those 11 months I was there. It changed me. I had an encounter with King Jesus.”
The power of the Word and the Spirit finally caused Caleb to surrender to Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
“Jesus is the only one who can change the addict,” he declares. “Jesus is the only force that can take someone and let them be born again. He’s the only one who can take a life of sin and shame and turn it into something beautiful.”
“So many people dealing with addiction come out of the church; they grew up in the church. All it takes is a few bad decisions to get wrapped up in this thing.”
Caleb and his wife Kelsey started Be The Bush Recovery Ministries in 2018 and have been able to help more than 73 people get free from their addictions. “We’ve seen 31 salvations and had 22 baptisms. Seven have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is another level. That helps you to bridle the tongue. It is a powerful thing.
“Why don’t you let him light you on fire?” he asks. “Why don’t you let the fire of God hit your life so you can be a vessel for the Kingdom of God?
“Addiction is bondage and we’re seeing people come out of bondage and into the freedom that God has for them. That’s what God brought me out of. Sometimes I pinch myself in the morning and say, God, do I really get to do what I do?
“There is a road to recovery, but it ends on a street called Redeemed.”
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To learn more about Be the Bush Recovery Ministries, click here