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Legacy


A CREATIONIST CAST DOWN

by Karl Priest 2006 (revised 12-17-2015).

This story tells how a boy from a Christian family ended in the pits of hell on earth and how the Grace of God has allowed his parents to persevere. 

For the nine years that I have been blessed to serve God in the creation ministry I have seen first hand what is merely a cliché to some.  That is the axiom that whenever one makes an effort to serve God, the devil starts to attack with much vigor.  The past year some events in my life have just about taken me down.  My beloved son yielded to temptation and was pulled into a hell on earth.  The whole scenario is a mess of unbelievable proportions but, in an attempt to bring glory to God through this situation, I would like to share with you what I (with my precious wife) have traveled through during the last twelve months. 

The death of a son would undoubtedly be like cutting one's heart out with a sharp knife.  It would be a nightmare but, although I have not experienced that kind of loss, I am sure Christians have eventually awakened and found closure.  There is no closure to my ordeal.  My heart is being slowly cut out with a dull knife.  The nightmare goes on and on.  Instead of affliction and death, my son is suffering from addiction and the horrors of methamphetamine.
      
The little Filipino nurse came out of the delivery room carrying a blanket with a small bundle of life in it.  When she peeled back the blanket and I saw my son's face everything else in the room faded away and I could only see the beautiful features of a new born son.  I was awe struck at the miracle of birth and filled with gratitude to God for His wonderful gift of life. 

My wife and I had already chosen his name from the Bible--Aaron Caleb and I loved him with all my heart from the time I found out my wife was pregnant.  At a time that expectant fathers were restricted to a waiting room, I had sat (and paced) all night long as my precious wife underwent the agony of labor for her first childbirth.  Finally, at about 8:30 AM the waiting was over and I saw my son for the first time.  That day, January 4, 1974 began a father-son relationship that I was eager to experience.

We dedicated Aaron to the Lord at church and some of his first experiences were riding in a lovingly prepared card-board box bassinet on the front seat of a church bus as we ran our bus-ministry route.  After that Aaron was with us as we helped build, from scratch, a Christian school, and serve the Lord as best we could as a young married couple.  He was always in Sunday School, AM and PM Sunday services, mid-week service, Christmas plays, Easter programs, church basketball, and youth activities.  Outside of church there was membership in Cub Scouts, baseball teams, and many other activities.  In school he was on the JHS track team and high school wrestling team.  He also attended FCA meetings at school. As he reached the late teens he joined a volunteer fire department and started his own business of lawn care using a small truck we purchased for him.

In 1977 Aaron's sister, Noel Faith, was born and our family continued to be close knit with activities and vacations centered on the kids.  Even after the kids reached adulthood, we gathered for weekly "family times".  By the time our daughter was born, my faith had grown lukewarm but we still attended church each Sunday morning and focused on the birth of Christ at Christmas and His resurrection during Easter.  Perhaps, my period of compromising opened an avenue for Satan to attack Aaron, or Aaron's slide to the edge of hell just happened to coincide with this period of my life.  Only God knows for sure.

In JHS we found that Aaron was listening to "head-banger" music and wanting to dress like and associate with kids that were racists and generally self-destructive.  We confiscated the material and mandated that Aaron turn away from it, but he continued to pursue the evil endeavors behind our backs.  One evening we received a call from the ER that Aaron had been severely beaten and left unconscious on a sidewalk in Charleston.  I brought him home and spent the night sleeping on the floor beside his bed to listen for any indications of distress.

We kept a lid on his rebellion, at least on the surface, until he turned 18 and then his behavior warranted our telling him he had to follow our rules or leave.  He left and went to stay in a room at the volunteer fire department.  Behind the scenes, I spoke with the fire chief and made sure that Aaron was reasonably safe, but I had no control over what he did outside the fire department building.

Aaron was unable to maintain his lawn care business and decided to join the Army.  We attended his graduation from boot camp in South Carolina and specialty school in Virginia.  It was obvious that he still had a rebellious streak, but we had hope based upon his success in the military. He was sent to Korea and stationed at a base near the DMZ.  At the dangerous DMZ, while in the field,  he used hand signals to get a North Korean border guard to trade him a patch. He even got a propaganda pamphlet which North Korea floated across the DMZ via helium filed balloons.  He spent a year under very difficult circumstances and kept in close touch with us.

He returned from Korea and was stationed in Kentucky were he successfully completed the tough Army Air Assault school at Ft. Campbell, KY.  He was recommended for the 101st airborne training.  Although we were disappointed in his tattoos, we attended and were proud of his graduation from further training.  A few months later we were called and told he was hospitalized from injuries sustained in a serious car wreck as a passenger in a truck driven by a drunken soldier.  After several days in the hospital Aaron was back on duty.  Not long after that he was arrested for involvement in theft from an off-base storage locker.  He claimed innocence, but was on the verge of being charged with a felony.  By God's mercy, he was allowed to pay a fine and was released after a couple of weeks.  His military career was over and when his hitch was up he was honorably discharged.

After working at odd jobs for about a year he called and said he wanted to come home and re-start his lawn care business.  His mother and I were happy to find and fix up an apartment for him.  He soon married his girl-friend and established a successful business. Over about three years his business was well-known and respected in the area.  He had up to twelve employees and maintained all of the tax and compensation requirements.  His wife and him, with our help, purchased a small home and they soon made it the showcase of the neighborhood.  He worked from daylight until past dark and then did office work until late at night.  He worked so hard that his mother and I asked him to slow down before it took a toil on his health.

He did not heed our warning and even worked hard during the winter with wood delivery, snow removal and landscaping. About the only time he slowed down was hunting season.  Aaron loved to get out in the woods and especially enjoyed deer hunting.  One November he went out early to hunt and arrived home after dark to discover that his wife had left him and took a lot of the company records and some cash from the recent sale of a car.  To say the least, Aaron was devastated.  This began two years of a bitter divorce battle.  During that time Aaron began to turn to anything and anyone, other than family and--more importantly--Jesus, to find solace. 

Melody (Aaron's mother, an RN) and I realized something was going on with Aaron and tried to intervene, to no avail, for several months in 2004.  To us, and our adult daughter who is a counselor on a hospital psyche ward, all the signs pointed toward depression.  He stopped working, he let the exterior of his house deteriorate so badly that neighbors filed complaints with the city.  He tried to keep us from entering his house but, when we insisted on entering, we found the interior was not fit for housing a dog.  We had no idea what the problem really was until the Metro Drug Unit raided his house on a Friday in February, 2005.   

One thing Aaron had tried was methamphetamine commonly known as "speed", "crank", "ice", or "crystal" among other names.  Meth sent a message to the pleasure center in Aaron's brain. Aaron  was able to stay awake for days. He felt alert, full of energy and self-confident.  The effect was like cocaine, but the high lasted a whole lot longer.  But, like anything other than Jesus, there is a snare that snaps onto the individual's life and holds the victim in a trap waiting for death.  Meth ingredients include over-the-counter cold and asthma medications, lantern fuel, antifreeze, red phosphorous, hydrochloric acid, drain cleaner, battery acid, and lye. The drug may cause irreversible brain damage and lead to depression, schizophrenia, and suicide.  Even after not using meth for a year experts say users are not functioning normally.

Our first reaction was to try to keep it to ourselves--partly from shame, but mostly from not wanting to burden others.  We were so much in shock at church the following Sunday that we could not hide our emotions and our pastor noticed.  Thank God for Galatians 6:2 because we found the blessings of allowing our brethren to "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

As I began to realize the immensity of the circumstance that engulfed us I began to think that, logically, I should back off from a frontline evangelical ministry I am in because I had so many problems to deal with. But God put it upon my heart that I must "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).

After Aaron's third arrest, Satan attacked me and insisted that I remove the Christian bumper stickers from my truck.  The serpent said that it was shameful for the father of a drug addicted criminal to display messages that glorify God.  Jesus brought His Word to my mind in order to stop that temptation and reminding me that He wants believers to "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you"  (James 4:7).  I cannot claim that Satan has fled, but I can say that I now have a new, centrally located, bumper sticker proclaiming boldly:  ONLY JESUS SAVES!

In February, 2006, after Aaron had been in jail over four months, we discovered that the mortgage company (despite our close cooperation with them) had placed a dumpster in front of Aaron's house and had begun filling it with Aaron's personal belongings.  It was heart breaking and nerve wracking as his mother, sister, and I tried to salvage some of Aaron's cherished items.  My emotions were shattered and my body was wracked with fatigue.  Every box I moved tore me apart emotionally.  The only way to function was to allow the automatic pilot of my soul to kick in.  I could not have carried on if God had not strengthened my spirit and again proved to me that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

My wife and I can testify that we are weak, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:7-8). 

Throughout it all we have found that the Good Lord meant it when he inspired the Psalmist to write "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee"  Isaiah 26:3.

Aaron Makes a Profession

Following is a transcription of testimony of Aaron Priest. This was written from the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, WV and passed via a guard to Aaron's father on Sunday morning April 9, 2006.  Aaron has been waiting indictment in the jail for six months as of April 14.

Aaron served honorably in the U. S. Army, married and built a successful business.  While undergoing a bitter divorce he chose drugs (Meth mainly) as an escape instead of comfort from God.  He then descended into the dark pits of the drug world and literally lost almost everything he owned.  Someday, if God sees fit, Aaron may tell the details as an admonition to others to avoid the choices he made.

Recently I read the sinner's prayer and rededicated my life to our Savior and Father, Jesus Christ.  Words cannot describe the feeling of what has replaced the empty void I used to carry.

Every day I read the morning paper from front to back.  When I get to the obituary section I read each one.  Some obituaries I read list all kinds of achievements and awards that the now deceased achieved prior to their passing.  I recently read one about a young man who had a 4.0 average (and) was an honor student, and model citizen.  The one thing it failed to mention was what mattered the most--that the person was saved and went home to heaven.

I know for sure that when I pass away I will be going on to glory and I want my obituary to reflect that fact.

There is only one accomplishment one makes during their life that really matters when it comes right down to it, and that accomplishment is knowing Jesus Christ. 

Despite that profession (and other things that gave us hope), Aaron never showed any signs of being truly born again.

After Aaron was released from jail he had to fulfill a court requirement of going to a resident rehab program. He was offered drugs the first night he was there. Early in the program he was dismissed for trying to sell items (not drugs or anything illegal) to other residents. He completed the program as a commuter (I was his chauffeur.).

There was so much that needed to be done after having his life shut down for nearly five years.  From basics like clothing we had to deal with medical, dental, and optical work. NA meetings, probation officer contacts, random drug screens, bankruptcy, tax negotiations, 4 different traffic courts, his divorce, getting all important documents (like SS card, birth certificate, military, etc), rehab class in Beckley each week, finding employment, regaining his drivers license, getting his truck road-ready and insured, lining up a place to live on his own (he lived with us for several months), and even more.  He was required to attend church 3 times a week plus things like the men's prayer breakfast.  He also was required to work for free at the church 2-4 hours a week cleaning pews etc.

Before a year was up he tested positive for meth and went to a residential program in Pennsylvania.

Since returning from Pennsylvania Aaron has continued the successful lawn care business he and his brother-in-law built after Aaron got out of jail.

Sadly, Aaron has turned his back on God.

This is as far as I can go with Aaron’s story. Even if Aaron overcomes his drug addiction, without true repentance and a turn toward God for salvation, his eternal destiny is hopeless. Aaron still faces a bleak future as far as man's eyes can see. 

His mother, sister, and I sincerely ask for your prayers.

ADDENDUM

1. Not to make excuses, but just to show that drug addiction hits all strata of society:
Charleston Mayor's son    
Prominent Charleston Pastor's Son

2. Meth Facts

3. Aaron had a healthy son born June 2014. On 12-12-2015 it became known to the family that Aaron had continued using meth and was close to where he was just prior to the fast spiral in 2005.

LEGACY INDEX