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31 March 2021
Jayden overcomes addiction and lives with freedom and hope
Words Naomi Singlehurst
Just a few years ago, Jayden was struggling with addiction and fear. But, with a growing faith and the support of the Salvos, he has seen his life transformed and is now passionately committed to helping others.
As a child, and in his early teens, Jayden had been relentlessly bullied at school. He dropped out in Year 9 to become an apprentice chef. Later, after a devastating relationship break-up, he was encouraged by a close friend to try the drug ice. And at first “it seemed to take away the pain”.
But Jayden became addicted very quickly.
“There were a few rock-bottom moments,” Jayden shares. “Just before [one] Christmas, I knew my son was being born, but I wasn’t allowed to see him. I threatened to kill people in the hospital. I hated the person I’d become.
“People were chasing me and, if I didn’t get them the money, I was going to be killed. I called my dad … and he gave me the money, but the condition was I had to go to rehab.”
Jayden entered The Salvation Army Brisbane Recovery Services, known as Moonyah, at the age of 21, but was asked to leave for aggressive behaviour.
It was during this darkest time, Jayden says, that God began to work in his life.
“When I was around 11 years old, I’d had a vivid dream of a very distinctive house,” he shares. “When I got kicked out of rehab the first time, I went to a new area to use drugs with someone I knew. As I walked into their house, in a town I’d never been to, it was exactly like my dream 10 years earlier.”
During that time, Jayden also prayed his first prayer.
“I knew they had no room in rehab, and I had no money to pay entry, either. But my prayer was if that was where I was meant to be, I’d get a place, and I did,” he says.
Off the drugs, but still struggling with many issues, Jayden then had an encounter that changed his life.
“One night, I looked up out of my window … and I saw a bright, white light coming towards me,” he says. “Then it gently kissed my face. Then, just as suddenly, it was gone, and I fell asleep feeling truly safe and secure for the first time in a very long time.
“I completed the program, and I gained a determination and confidence that I’d never had before.”
Jayden went on to complete every extra course offered at Moonyah, and accepted invitations to church, men’s camps and more. He also ran a cooking course at Moonyah and then became the centre’s chef.
Jayden now shares custody of his child and last year he launched his own catering business. His business also features a cookery program for schools, youth detention and addiction recovery services.
Jayden also volunteers in recovery outreach, one-on-one mentoring and is involved in supporting others through his local church. “I’m convinced connection is the opposite of addiction,” he says.
With many strong mentors behind him, Jayden has also undertaken extensive counselling to work on his own issues of healing and identity. “I now understand that to gain freedom, we often have to face the things we fear the most,” he says. “To go through what I have gone through and now to be able to reach the people God has put aside for me to reach – that is incredible.
“I know there is hope for everyone. When I had that dream, and saw that house, I was still using [drugs], but God met me there. There is no point [where] we have so ruined our lives that God can’t pick us back up again.”
Jayden says he is certain the light of God’s love – made available through Jesus’ death and resurrection – was shining in his life, even in his darkest times. He just had to stop running and acknowledge it.
“I’ve experienced a lot in my life already, and the one thing I am absolutely sure of is that God transforms lives,” he says. “And that transforming light and love of God, through his son Jesus, is the miracle, the hope and the message of Easter and beyond.”