When Maxwell “Jim Bo” Assing smoked his first cigarette at the age of 13, it probably seemed innocent enough, but when he moved on to marijuana and alcohol a short time later, it changed the course of his life.
“By the time I was 18, I was a drug dealer and an addict,” he says. “My life was lies upon lies. I thought I knew it all.” Looking back, he realizes he knew nothing. “I thought I was with the ‘in crowd,’ but I came to find out that they were really the ‘out crowd.’ ”
A Mother’s Prayer
Born and raised in Bermuda in a Christian home, Maxwell remembers what it was like to face his mother, Gay Goins, every night when he stumbled through the door. “I would sell drugs on the street and then go home where my mom would place her hands on me and pray,” he recalls. “She never gave up. I did what I wanted to do—and so did she.”
Maxwell was convicted time and time again for dealing drugs. “I spent years in and out of prison,” he says. “Because I thought I was having a good time, I endured 32 years of suffering and sickness—without tears. I didn’t cry because I didn’t care.”
Throughout that time, Maxwell found himself in many types of programs and was given numerous chances to gain control of his life, but without success. “They didn’t work,” he explains. “I was like driftwood—drifting and drifting straight back to the pit of hell.”
Maxwell’s mother wasn’t the only one who would not walk away from him, even when he was at his lowest point. “My brother, Stanley, had also been into drugs,” he says. “Wherever we went, we hollered out, ‘How much drugs do you want?’ But when he cleaned up his life and turned it over to God, he kept coming around, asking, ‘Are you tired of this life yet?’ and I just kept saying, ‘No, I’m not tired.’ But he never gave up on me.”
Stanley was determined to help his brother. He literally led Maxwell to the front door of a substance abuse rehabilitation centre in Devonshire, Bermuda. “It was just like the story of Hansel and Gretel and the breadcrumbs,” Maxwell smiles. “He had prayed about it and felt God telling him to do what he had to do to get me there. Stanley led me straight to the door and when it closed behind me, I made up my mind that my old life was over.”
“Do You Know Who I Am?
Maxwell continued his rehabilitation at The Salvation Army Harbour Light in Hamilton, Bermuda, where he accessed a wide range of supports and services, such as addictions counselling, life-skills instruction, anger management, relapse prevention and Bible study. It was there he asked God to forgive his sins and became a Christian.
“I said, ‘Lord, I’m trusting You and want to walk Your way—not my way, because my way is warped,’ ” Maxwell shares.
Maxwell started to attend church at The Salvation Army’s North Street Citadel, where the pastors and church members welcome clients from Harbour Light as they re-integrate into the community. “My pastor at that time was Major Bruce Jennings,” explains Maxwell. “He taught me to say yes to God’s goodness, mercy and grace, and then to go and show someone else what He’s done for me.”
Maxwell is now an official member of The Salvation Army.
“Everything about me is different,” he explains. “One day I saw a guy on the street that I knew before God changed my life. I walked right beside him and asked, ‘Do you know who I am?’ He said he didn’t, so I leaned closer and whispered in his ear, ‘My name is Jim Bo. See what the Lord can do?
And He can do the same for you! All you have to do is say, ‘Yes, Lord.’ “And that’s what I continue to do every day,” Maxwell concludes. “Without God, I wouldn’t be here.”