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May6WedVince Cusack was at his lowest when he encountered God and The Salvation Army. May 6, 2020 by Ken Ramstead
"Addiction consumed my whole life,” states Vince Cusack. “I’ve been locked up, homeless, suicidal, had withdrawals that almost killed me, overdosed numerous times and had to be revived with Narcan. I’ve been in numerous car accidents because I was high behind the wheel. I hurt my family and my friends and did things I never thought I would do.”
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Vince posted this on his Facebook page this past spring to celebrate another year of sobriety.
“I had two options,” he went on to post. “Continue to self-destruct or surrender and admit I had a problem.
“I chose freedom. I chose to believe in God!”
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Vince “grew up in a family that was dysfunctional.” At the age of five, his family moved to Arizona, where Vince spent his childhood and teen years.
Unfortunately, his parents struggled with alcoholism.
“At an early age, I started drinking with them and that carried over into school,” says Vince. “Whether I was at home or whether I was at school, I was using substances and abusing them.”
By the time Vince reached high school, his life revolved around self-medicating, using drugs and alcohol, alone, with friends or with his parents. In his senior year, Vince was expelled for possession and use of drugs.
From the time he was 17, he had been in and out of jail for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and shoplifting.
“All primarily so I could get funds to use,” says Vince. “I would use until I got into trouble, get arrested and the cycle would repeat.”
Things did not improve when he moved to Kansas City, Missouri, with his parents. By then, he was addicted to heroin and “was doing all kinds of horrible things to get high.”
It was at this point that the 22-year-old was arrested for forgery and identity theft. As this was his first felony charge, Vince was told to find a drug rehab facility by the drug courts.
“And that is what brought me to The Salvation Army’s Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre (ARC) in Kansas City.”
By this time, Vince was mentally, spiritually and physically bankrupt. He had even contemplated suicide in the months leading up to this.
“I just was sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
So when Vince was offered the opportunity to attend a drug rehabilitation facility for a six-month, faith-based program, it seemed to him like God’s way of saying, “This is where I’m going to change your life.”
Vince took his new life one day at a time.
The Salvation Army pastors and staff provided Vince with basic necessities that he’d stopped caring about.
“Even seemingly minor things—a place to sleep, a roof over my head, food, clothing—were a blessing to me.”
However, the ARC provided more than that.
In the six months he was there, he met with Christian counsellors and attended chapel services twice a week.
But he was also motivated by those around him.
“I saw God transform others like me, facing prison time or homeless, coming in with nothing and leaving with the confidence to go and build themselves back up.”
As well, Vince started to embrace the ministry and the mission of The Salvation Army.
It was only a matter of time before Vince knelt at the chapel and told God, “I surrender.”
At around this time, the ARC pastors suggested that Vince find a home church. The closest one was a kilometre and a half away at The Salvation Army’s Eastside Corps.
He had already been to a Sunday service there thanks to the ARC, and attending services on a regular basis just galvanized his faith.
“Every Sunday, the pastors made me feel welcome and were invested in my faith and my Christian walk, and they took the time to answer my questions.”
Vince now knew that God had a purpose for his life, and he expressed an interest in becoming an official member of The Salvation Army.
“I wanted to serve,” says Vince. “And everything I read about the Army’s doctrines and mission agreed with what was in my heart. The more I prayed about this to God, the more I realized that this is what He had in mind for me.
“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me.”
Vince became an official member of The Salvation Army last year and threw himself into the life of the church.
“I was leading Sunday school, I was involved in the worship services, I did the media, read Scripture, I took guys from the ARC to AA meetings every weekend,” says Vince. “I could see how God was using me.”
“God, I can’t believe what You’re doing with my life,” he prayed one day.
“It’s one of those times you hear the still, small voice of God, and He said, ‘This is what I have for you.’ ”
That day, Vince started the paperwork to become a Salvation Army pastor. He is doing a full-time internship at Wichita Citadel church in Kansas and he expects to go into training next year.
“God’s used me in so many ways,” says Vince, “whether leading Sunday school, teaching a youth program, preaching or just being involved in the day-to-day activities of the church.”
When asked to encapsulate his life, Vince replies, “God loves us all and nobody’s ever lost. I want my story to be heard because if one person can identify with where I’ve been and where I’m at, that will give them hope.”