I lay on the floor of the jail cell crying. Isolated from everyone. I was coming down off of meth and felt so broken, so devastated. I looked back at the times I was sober and wondered: Why did I slip? Why did I relapse? How did I get here?
On June 5, 2019, two drug task force officers had pulled me over outside my house. They told me they knew I was selling meth, arrested me and put me in jail for three days. But God redeemed me in that jail cell, and now I’m preaching his Word.
My mom was very devout in dragging me and my siblings to church. I started playing drums at church in seventh grade, and I was saved in my teenage years. But I don’t think you can really own your faith until you become an adult and venture into the world for yourself and find Jesus there.
My stepdad was physically, mentally and emotionally abusive. I remember getting pulled from the top bunk and slapped around. I grew up, basically, across the street at a friend’s house. I wanted nothing to do with being at home.
I graduated high school and moved to Rochester, Minnesota. That’s when I stopped going to church and started smoking weed, drinking and sleeping around. I disowned my faith, but if you had asked me, I probably would’ve still said I was a Christian.
I got a full-time job as a general manager of a pizza franchise. My paycheck supported my habits: drinking and smoking weed. When my sister had major back surgery for scoliosis, I got hooked on her pills. That led to a methamphetamine addiction.
Meth took me to a place I’ve never known. It felt like I had found what I had been missing all my life—peace and joy. I can tell you now, it was a false hope, a false illusion, a snare of Satan.
I was working and using meth, and nobody knew. I could give you a lot of horror stories. A friend of mine overdosed two hours after he left my house. I got so depressed with where my life was going, and I couldn’t stop using meth, so I checked myself into a treatment center in Texas. I stayed there for about 30 days, graduated and came back to Rochester.
After another treatment, I moved home to Owatonna, Minnesota, and lived with my mom. I had about seven months clean and began drumming for a church. It was an amazing experience, and I was definitely proud of it, but I wasn’t doing it for God. I wasn’t reading my Bible. I wasn’t really praying. I was literally going to church to drum because drumming’s my passion.
Eventually, I hit a wall with my depression. I wasn’t taking antidepressants, and I made a poor decision to message the wrong friend. I relapsed that day. For the next year, I still drummed for the church, but I was using and selling meth. It was a depressing, revolving circle of emotion. I felt conviction for it, but I was addicted.
Then, I got arrested.
Jail is a man-made, earthly punishment for crimes you’ve committed. I hated it. In jail, I got this overwhelming feeling that God was with me, and he kept asking me: What will your punishment be for your sins eternally against me? That’s when I lost it. I knew I was sinning. I knew I wasn’t living for God. I knew God was alive and asking me to turn my life around. Once I gave my life to Christ in jail, God has had his hand in everything.
My mom had recently opened a credit card, and the limit was for the exact amount as my bail, so she bailed me out of jail. My sentence was five and a half years in prison for selling methamphetamine. It was a first-degree felony. But through sentencing, I stayed sober. After a month or two, the court saw that I was still sober, engaged in church and trying to get into treatment. I knew these were the right things to do and that God was leading me to a better life.
The court gave me an opportunity to join a program that defers prison sentences for people who want to turn their life around. I haven’t used since then. So not only did God give me a second chance, the court system and the law gave me a second chance. I should be in prison, but yet here I am with a chance to not only stay out of prison, but to better my life.
Since then, I married a woman with two kids, and we bought a house, have two dogs and a new baby. I joined Redemption Church, and I’ve been diving into Scripture and continuing to draw close to the Lord. He’s been revealing so much to me in my readings, studies and my prayer life. I’m hungry for God’s Word.
Jesus never promised an easy, painless life. He said we’re going to suffer like he suffered. I remember that no matter what suffering we face on this earth, we will have rewards in heaven. We’ll get to see our Creator. It’s going to be so magnificent, and that brings us joy.
It was a God send that Redemption senior pastor Christian Kohs gave me the opportunity to join the church staff. I preached my first sermon January 3.
From meth addict and dealer to preacher, I’ve been given an opportunity to not only have spiritual, mental and physical freedom, but to also literally jump into a calling to help glorify God and help other people come to know him.
Steven Keller, pictured with his family, is a pastoral resident at Redemption Church, a USMB congregation in Owatonna, Minnesota. He serves as video and sound technician and dummer and helps lead a men’s Bible study. His wife, Kali, is the congregation’s worship leader. Together the couple helps lead children’s church, a prayer and worship night and a recovery meeting, in addition to hosting home groups and a weekly family dinner.