“Leave the house or I will blow your brains out", Stacey Folds roared at his drunken stepfather as he held up a rifle to rescue his beaten mother.
Stacey was then 16. When his mother was asked to choose between him and his stepfather, she chose the latter.
His parents divorced when he was four years old. He was molested by a trusted male friend of the family. He was bullied by his school peers.
"People called me homo, fag, queer. After hearing it so many times, I believed I was gay," Stacey explains.
He started taking drugs, dropped out of high school, and detached himself from his devoutly Christian family because, he says, "Their church said I was not welcome."
At a gay bar he searched for love and approval and there, finally, found enough excitement to stay.
"The lights, music, drugs, and alcohol were fascinating to me at age 19," Stacey says. "I enjoyed it, or at least I thought I did.
"I got myself involved in a relationship with another man for ten years. It was a very tumultuous relationship – filled with deceit, lies and secrets.
"When he passed away in 2003 I moved back home and got a job with the county sheriff's office in 2007. My life was still empty, but I loved my job. I still love my job."
In that office Stacey had a friend who both annoyed and intrigued him with his constantly good mood.
"Chad was always talking about his faith, and I didn't like him. I had no use for Chad, because God didn't love me and I didn't love Him. But for whatever reason I was drawn to Chad. I would listen to every word that came out of his mouth. To this day I couldn't tell you why, I just did."
In contrast to his friend's mood Stacey slid into depression and decided upon suicide in 2010.
"On my way home from a bar at 2am, I sped up to 120mph and at that point I believe God intervened. I decided, before going through with it, to see my parents at their church the next morning as my way of telling them bye."
In that church service Stacey says, "God just spoke to me, and to be honest He ticked me off."
Stacey was so mad he opened the Bible his mother had given him years before and he says, "for whatever reason, the Bible spoke to me."
Stacey returned to his parent's church many more times, and finally asked the pastor to help him.
"I told [the pastor] I was in a dark place and didn't want to be there anymore. I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ and in that moment a weight was lifted off my shoulders."
The desires he had for decades changed instantly, Stacey says.
"I no longer desired to be with men or to curse. I wanted a wife and children."
A year later Stacey married, and a son followed a year after.
"God has blessed me ten times more than what I deserved," Stacey concludes. "I believe in all those years of running away from God, He was running to me. I believe my mission in life is to keep people from going down the road I went down."•