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Former drug addict encourages seminaries to teach drug awareness

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–As a former drug addict, Ted Stone is accustomed to taking life one step at a time.
The next step in his personal war against drugs is toward the six Southern Baptist seminaries where he will encourage the schools to add drug awareness curriculum to a core course.
His latest stop was at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where the Southwestern trustee shared his testimony at a chapel service Oct. 20 and asked those in attendance to sign a commitment card to remain drug-free and to minister to people suffering from drug-related problems. The next day, he met with school officials to discuss making the curriculum change.
At the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Atlanta this year, a drug task force made the recommendation to encourage seminaries to make the addition to the curriculum. The previous year in Salt Lake City, Stone had asked the SBC to convene the task force after walking to the convention from San Francisco on his way across the country.
As a result of the Oct. 21 meeting, Southwestern has created a task force to investigate where drug awareness can be added to courses.
Stone announced plans for another cross-country walk next year beginning at the Texas-Mexico border in Laredo and ending in Detroit. He will follow the same agenda: walk 30 miles a day and speak with people during scheduled meetings and in encounters along the way. Philip Barber, an associate in his ministry, will accompany Stone on the walk.
At the chapel service, Stone said he had always dreamed of being someone special as a child. Even after becoming a Christian at 10, feeling called to preach and attending Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Stone held on to the dream.
“I didn’t understand the meaning of success,” Stone said, adding that he defined success as having a flashy sports car, a large bank account and a mansion.
As he served as a pastor for seven years, his thoughts were, “One day, Ted Stone, you’ll be preaching in the biggest church in America.”
He left the pastorate because it did not measure up to his idea of success, and he became a businessman. Although he said he never became an alcoholic, he said he nevertheless had a drinking problem.
“Some people can take it or leave it,” Stone said. “How on earth can you tell the category to which you belong?
“Even if you can take it or leave it, what about others around who follow your example?” Stone asked.
“I would ask you that if in the past if you’ve been a social drinker, would you consider giving it up for someone that you love?”
Stone still went to church, serving as a deacon and Sunday school teacher. One day, a friend brought him some amphetamines, which he tried.
“I worked all night long,” Stone said. “They didn’t hurt me. They did make me feel great, so I took two more.”
Ignoring the signs of a developing drug addiction, Stone continued to increase the number of pills, always assuring himself he could quit anytime he wanted.
When parents today ask him why their child’s behavior suddenly changes, Stone has an answer.
“I know why,” he said. “It’s because drugs change people. They changed me.”
He said he bought a gun, stopped trusting people, stopped going home to his family and stopped going to church.
“I tried to kick God out of my life,” he admitted.
Even when he overdosed, the hospital and the people in his community thought he had just overworked, he said.
He started to have violent thoughts and wanted to become a master criminal. He committed seven armed robberies and found his victims’ fear “a turn-on.” At the last store he robbed, the victim just smiled and did not show fear, and Stone shot him.
He was arrested, charged with seven robberies and attempted murder, and released on bail. During the 18 months before being sentenced to prison, he was in and out of a psychiatric ward and still abusing drugs.
In prison, Stone went “cold turkey.” Then he made two choices: to stop using drugs and to let God take charge of his life. He made it clear to the Southwestern chapel audience, however, that the recovery process has been very difficult.
“You are lucky if you ever get well,” Stone said. “Even if you do, at best it’s a hard, long road back.”
A chaplain encouraged him to share his testimony during prison chapel services, which he did. He later preached and baptized a fellow prisoner.
When he was released from prison four years and three months later, he went straight to his church in Durham, N.C., and cried out to the Lord asking what God wanted him to do.
“I’ll preach for you again if you ask me. Lord, I’m willing to die for you if you ask me,” he recalled praying.
At first when people asked him to share his testimony, he remembers crying afterwards, asking, “God, haven’t I atoned enough?”
Twenty-three years later, Stone is still telling the story not as atonement but as a ministry to help people avoid the pain that he experienced.
“No matter how good [the drugs] made me feel for a little while,” he said, “none of it is worth the price you have to pay.
“You pay the price for your mistakes as long as you live on this earth.”
If churches or other groups would like to schedule Stone during his walk next year, call (919) 477-1581.

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  • Matt Sanders