Suicidal ex-soldier finds clean break as rehab director and street chaplain
Jack Jones had everything a man could want: wealth, women, honour and success from military service and million-dollar IT business deals, yet he despised what he had become.
"At age 35 I was at the very bottom: I was an alcoholic, a marijuana addict and sex addict," Jack confesses.
"Nothing was appeasing the hole in my heart. No success, no trophy, no drug, no woman— nothing was removing the torment inside. I attempted suicide numerous times."
Following abuse as a child, Jack tried to suppress these memories through smoking marijuana and alcohol.
Attempting to escape his personal vices, he joined the army at age 17.
"Far from making a man out of me, in the military; the better the drinker you were, the more women you had; the 'greater man' you were," Jack explains.
He was honoured to be part of the UN peacekeeping force in Cambodia, and while there recalls, "I saw first-hand the capacity for evil that humans truly have. I had no answers, and the pain of it dug deep into my soul."
He became even more depressed when every relationship he entered failed.
"I certainly could not love a woman as a man should and committed adultery numerous times," Jack remembers. "I hated myself and was suicidal more than once."
He remembers holding his automatic rifle to his head after hearing that his girlfriend had a nervous breakdown due to his unfaithfulness.
When his father died of a heart attack in 1999, Jack resigned from the military and thought that money would "cure" him.
Life felt like a dream come true working in website design for a company involved in an international takeover and global deals during the dotcom boom.
"It was a surreal journey, one that included million-dollar deals to build software for international ISPs, plus open-ended expense accounts," he recounts.
Despite all this, he admits, "My soul remained in anguish and despair, so I drank more and pursued expensive cars, travel, and women. I still hated myself. I did not care if I was alive or dead."
By his eighth year in the IT boom, Jack was using marijuana daily, which he says caused "depression, bouts of mental illness and paranoia."
After an intense six months of drug and alcohol abuse, he was considering suicide when he remembers, "The Holy Spirit of God spoke to me, which terrified me initially, however my soul told me it was God because there was a powerful feeling of love concurrently.
"God said to me, 'You have been a soldier of this world, and loved everything in this world, and it made you sick, but now you will be my soldier, and you will love Me.'
"I now knew God was real, having previously been a hard-hearted atheist. I looked for God in many religions including Buddhism, Islam, New Age and Scientology, but their teachings did not match the sense of love I had experienced from God."
As he sat reading in a park, a Christian man invited Jack to a public concert that evening. After the music, Jack recalls hearing an ex-addict share her story that matched his experience.
"I ran forward to pray and give my life to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom that [ex-addict] knew, and I have not stopped running to Jesus since. I read the Bible in two months; I could not get enough of it."
Jack says Jesus released him from alcohol and drugs almost instantaneously, except some isolated relapses for a couple of years due to the level of his addiction.
"There are no earthly words to proclaim the depth of Jesus' love for humanity, and His ability to turn the sinner righteous— to make what was unclean, clean— has no boundary," Jack enthuses.
As he got to know Jesus through the Bible, church and prayer, he went on to gain a degree in theology and for several years has been a missionary pastor and volunteer street chaplain.
Jack also has a heart for mentoring ex-addicts through rehab and serves as the Australian managing director of the Christian drug rehabilitation program Harvest of Hope, which operates in Kenya and Cambodia. In the near future they also plan to build a rehab centre in Western Australia.
"None of the things I do are a chore for me, but it is a joy," Jack concludes.
"Today, thanks to Jesus Christ alone, I am clean and the pain inside is gone. As Jesus said to a leper, 'I am willing – be clean!'" •
Contact Harvest of Hope Australia at harvestofhope.com.au