After six years of addiction to drugs and alcohol, the grace of God captured Ryan Druffel’s heart, and his life will never be the same. His first taste of alcohol came at the age of fourteen, when he got drunk and became enamored with the feeling of release it gave him.
“It was what I needed, what I wanted.”
For Ryan, alcohol was an escape from what life had become. Over an eight month period, nine-year-old Ryan was sexually abused by the fifteen-year-old son of his father’s new girlfriend. From that time forward, Ryan became an excellent liar, manipulating people to see only what he wanted them to see.
“I always felt like I was two different people. There was the real me that endured the sexual abuse, and there was the version of me that I fabricated, so everybody else would like me, and I tried to live up to that.”
After graduating from high school, Ryan began experimenting with a variety of drugs.
“Certain drugs made me feel invincible, like I was the person I should have been without the abuse or the trauma. But I was mistaken.”
Years of enslavement to both drugs and alcohol followed, leaving Ryan feeling empty and emotionless.
“I didn’t know how to feel. I had burned so many bridges and did whatever I could in that time to get the drug that I needed, because in that moment that drug was my god, and it’s all I would live for. I questioned the purpose of my existence so many times, and there were moments that I wanted to act on it and take my own life.”
Every time Ryan would lose hope, something would prevent him from following through. And eventually, he got tired of being sick and realized he was in desperate need of something different, someone different.
“I went to visit my grandmother. I was out of options, out of answers, didn’t know where to go next, didn’t know what to do. I sat down for lunch with her in the kitchen and confessed to her everything that I had done over the last six years. As a tear rolled down her cheek and she smiled at me, she said, ‘There’s a plan for you, just let it happen.’”
For the first time Ryan really listened. He had never thought that way before. He had always wanted everything on his own terms, his own way, but finally he was willing to let go.
“From there I found the Alcoholics Anonymous program and started doing the steps. It’s a spiritual program based around a higher power, and after about a month, I got really interested in starting a relationship with Christ.”
The second week of January, Ryan went to Resonate Church for the first time and was immediately hooked, getting involved right away in Village and constantly learning more about Jesus.
“It was an amazing experience. I’m almost four months into starting my relationship with God and it’s exciting. I look forward to it. I constantly want to know more. I have so many questions, and I know they won’t all be answered at once. It’s going to take years, a lifetime of continuous progress pursuing a relationship with Jesus. But I’m excited for it.”
Ryan was baptized this spring to demonstrate that he has surrendered his life.
At his baptism service, a woman in the audience was struck by the familiarity of Ryan’s name and story. She remembers praying for a small boy who had badly burned his feet in her neighborhood many years before. She had prayed for his healing and that Jesus would be the Lord of his life. After the boy left the hospital, she lost track of him, but she continued to pray that he would know Christ.
Twenty years later, on April 28th, 2013, Jeanne Vantrease saw that God was faithful to answer her prayers as she watched Ryan express before his friends and family the reason he was choosing to be baptized:
“It’s symbolic that Christ has all the control and all the power in my life. He’s my Savior.”