Dustin Brown, 38
In recovery since December 16, 2013
His epiphany came during the worst ice storm Branson, Missouri had ever seen.
Homeless and hungry, Dustin Brown had been walking aimlessly for three days. Out of money, friends, and with no job, the 34 year old felt ready to die.
When the ice storm hit that night, Dustin ran out of what energy he had left. Around 2:30AM he fell exhausted onto the pavement.
And then prone on his back, he heard it.
“God spoke to me. ‘Get up, son’, He said to me. And right then I knew then it was time to surrender.”
It was December 16, 2013, and for 16 chaotic years, Dustin’s escalating drug use landed him a litany of trouble and with a laundry list of fines. It had cost him friends and family and made him a fugitive from the law.
“I sat up on my knees and I called back to Him: ‘I have no idea how you’re going to fix me, Jesus. I am such a wreck. But I’m in your hands now and I will trust in you.’”
It was the last day Dustin Brown ever took a drug.
Dustin’s issues began in childhood, growing up with a strong single mother, but one who suffered from mental health issues. “I had to grow up real fast,” he recalls.
His drug use, though, didn’t start until years after he ran away and dropped out of school. Marijuana, then cocaine, then crack, then meth, then heroin. Jail stays, warrants, moving from place to place.
Two sons were born during the decade of his drug escapades. One was in DCFS custody. The other he had not spoken with or seen in two years.
“I learned to manipulate the system. I ran from the law. I lost everything. Lived in the streets. Scammed anyone I could.”
“But when I let God into my heart, I knew I was never going to go back to where I had been.”
The day after the ice storm and with Jesus on his side, Dustin turned himself in on his outstanding warrant. Soon after, he returned to Illinois and was sent to Champaign County Drug Court, a jail diversion program where he was assigned to work with Drug Court Counselor Vicki Moss at Prairie Center.
“Prairie Center helped me find the underlying causes of my addiction. Through counseling and process groups with Vicki, I discovered the infections I had towards other people and myself that were fueling my problem. Prairie Center helped me heal my issues."
“She really believed in me,” Dustin says of Vicki. “Her heart is filled with understanding. Her compassion gave me a second chance.”
Today Dustin has his two sons, Tréton and Collin, back with him. “With God’s love and Prairie Center’s help, there’s now a closeness and bond we all have that I never did when I was their age.”
With a new job, new apartment, and a stable family, Dustin now pours himself into ministry. He volunteers for Loaves & Fishes and regularly brings his sons with him to the street ministry to hand out Bibles and offer prayers to those in need. In April, he will become an ordained minister.
“That day in December God wrote his word upon my heart. I surrendered to Christ that day. It is only because of that decision that I am still here. God has opened so many doors for me to now to give back.”