People who have just recently met Ken Hawkins are often shocked to hear about his past. It is difficult for them to imagine his 26 years of drug addiction and a felony rap sheet that is multiple pages long.
“But people who knew me before and have seen my transformation think it is impossible,” Hawkins said.
After nearly two years drug free, Hawkins is an active member of Mosaic Church in Wadsworth and has recently founded the organization Really Recovered, aimed at helping others who are battling addiction.
“It’s like it has gone from dark to light,” Hawkins said.
And Hawkins will admit that his past was very dark. He began using drugs when he was 11 and went on to struggle with addiction for 26 years. He still clearly remembers when he reached his breaking point.
“I had a substantial amount of money in a safety deposit box and I decided I would just take everything out of there and just keep using until I died,” he said. “I had been in 17 different treatment centers and I had been locked up in jail a dozen times. There seemed to be no answer to this and I was constantly hurting the people around me, so I came to the realization that everybody would be better off without me. I just didn’t think anything would be any different.”
But even after blowing through $50,000 worth of drugs, Hawkins survived.
“I got arrested and a couple of days had passed,” he said. “It was the middle of the night and everybody was asleep. I was in the living room and had taken a couple of drinks. I had blown through 50 grand, but physically I was still OK. I was really angry I was still alive so I called out to God in disgust ‘If you actually are real. Come back and show me what to do.’”
Hawkins admits he made this declaration sarcastically. His parents had taken him to church as a child, but when he was 13, officials at that church had a meeting with his parents and told them not to bring him back, claiming he was a bad influence on the other kids.
“I wasn’t sure if there was a God, but I thought if there was that he didn’t want anything to do with me,” Hawkins said.
But that night in his living room, Hawkins said he heard a message from God.
“I didn’t really believe in God and I didn’t want to believe, but I guess it was like I wanted to want to believe,” he said. “It was kind of like there was a crack in the door and Jesus kicked it in and God was like ‘I never left.’”
Hawkins cites this as the moment that everything changed for him.
“It was like the presence in the room changed. In that moment it felt like something had cleared out,” he said. “Things were just different after that. I couldn’t go on doing the same things. It’s not that everything was perfect or that bad thoughts didn’t come, but it was like the obsession for drugs was removed.”
Hawkins shared this revelation with his wife, Megan. Little did he know, Megan had also been struggling and praying to find a solution.
“When I had started using heavily, Megan had fought against it at first,” Hawkins said. “But then she had taken an if you can’t beat it, join it approach. She had suffered from two overdoses and I once had to revive her through CPR.”
With his newfound belief in and relationship with God, Hawkins told Megan he wanted to start looking for a church. While trying to find a church a client of his had recommended, Hawkins and Megan accidentally attended Mosaic.
“I came here by mistake, but it was no mistake,” Hawkins said.
It was early in 2015 and Pastor Adam Barton was offering a sermon about money. Hawkins said he had witnessed the way his parents’ former church had taken financial advantage of a lot of their parishioners, but Barton’s sermon was a refreshing change from the status quo and Hawkins knew he found his church family.
“I remember we had been only a handful of times and the impression was so strong and I was cruising in my car so excited thinking about how God was rebuilding my life and all the things I could do with my family,” Hawkins said. “It was all ‘I’ and ‘me’ and God stopped me in my tracks and said ‘You think this is for you?’ I didn’t understand at the time that it wasn’t about me. There were all these opportunities to share my story and help others.”
Since then Hawkins has launched Really Recovered. He shares his story through speaking at events and also through videos and a blog at reallyrecovered.com.
“The cool thing is before he really formed this Really Recovered brand, he was already doing all of these things,” said Mosaic’s J.P. Hanna. “He would get a call from someone who got his name asking if he could go talk to their son in the hospital. He was already doing these things and Really Recovered put some structure around it.”
Recently Hawkins was asked to speak at Heroin Awareness Day at Memorial Park.
“It was an honor to do that thinking that two years ago I had a needle in my arm and was half dead,” he said.
While Hawkins is taking things one day at a time, he said he is confident that with Jesus by his side a relapse is no longer possible.
“I had been through detox a bunch of times, but it didn’t matter,” he said. “Now that I know God exists and that everything I’ve done always matters it is terrifying, but it is His unconditional love and forgiveness that I am surrounded by now that keeps me strong.”
Hawkins said he isn’t sure what the future holds, but adds he plans to trust Jesus to guide him where to go.
“Instead of running ahead, I just want to see where He leads me,” he said.
(originally published in Wadsworth Post Sept, 16, 2016