Decades of drug and alcohol abuse. Years of full-fledged cocaine addiction. The inability to keep a job. They had taken their toll on Antone DePina. Despondent over the roller coaster ride to sobriety and one rock-bottom after another, he was desperate for a change. This year, finally serious about his faith after stops and starts in that journey, Antone was seeking hard after God.
And, in the quiet of his room at Good Samaritan Mission’s Discipleship House in the late winter of 2017, God spoke.
“’Stay. Stay, no matter what. Stay and trust me.’ That was it,” Antone recalls. “That’s what God spoke to me, loud and clear.”
It wouldn’t take long for Antone to learn what it would mean to trust God…to really trust God – for even more than his sobriety. Shortly after he was settled at Discipleship House, Jericho’s residential facility for homeless addicts, Antone was diagnosed with liver cancer, and, common among alcoholics, cirrhosis.
Now, Antone, 55, was in a battle for his life. Now, his sobriety meant the difference between living and dying. But he wasn’t afraid.
“I took it fairly well, because I looked at all the crazy chaos I’ve been through in my life and I was like, ‘this is something the Lord can cure,’” he said. “I’ve come to the point in my spiritual walk where I know God can cure me.”
Following successful cryoablation treatment to kill the one-centimeter tumor on his liver, he is committed to staying sober (“If I drink again, I die.”), staying put at Discipleship House (“Why not stay in a place that’s helped you all this time?”), and trusting God with his life. This month, he celebrates one year of sobriety.
“What is affecting me the most here, as far as my ability to stay on the sober train, is God,” said Antone, who’s been at DH since January 2017. “I was a very twisted young man. (But) I’ve listened for all these months to what (DH counselors and pastors) say, over and over and over, and I don’t want to die and go to hell. I want to be in God’s favor, so I continue to push on. I can’t smite the Lord again. I just can’t. I’m convicted to do the right thing. And this time, after all the years of Him pursuing me, I’m pursuing Him. It’s not just one-sided anymore.”
Antone credits Good Samaritan Mission with saving his life. “I can’t say enough about this place,” he said. “If I didn’t come here, where would I be?” Today, he is a Resident in Training, meaning he serves in a leadership role at the house, helping to guide newer residents and working overnight supervisory shifts.
Antone says he feels a tug to go into ministry himself, to help others who are struggling with addiction. He says, after all, he now knows the secret to staying on the path.
“I kept relapsing and relapsing and I couldn’t figure out why,” he said. “It’s because I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s why. I did things like read the Bible and go to church, but I was just going through the moves. I look back now at where God has led me and I know that none of this was my doing. All I did was agree and keep moving. God has done the rest."