Losing A Friend (Austin Gene)
Three years ago yesterday, I received a phone call from one of my best friends, I will never forget that call. He sounded terribly worried and I knew something was horribly wrong. He said that our friend Austin was missing in Bakersfield and he feared the worst. He asked that my wife (then fiancé) and I would pray for him. I immediately said yes and cried out to the Lord that they would find him.
Austin was one of the funnest kids I had ever been around. You would be hard-pressed to find a time when he wasn’t laughing or making someone else laugh. I met Austin when he was a freshmen in high school and I was a sophomore. This was long before I became a believer in Jesus Christ and we use to party a lot together. He never took life all that seriously and some of the funnest times I remember were actually the times where we were both completely sober. For example, a group of friends and myself kidnapped, duct-taped and took pictures of Austin, while writing different things on his body with a permanent marker. Another memory is when he came over to my house and upon visiting a couple of friends at Hillside Middle school, who were playing air-soft, Austin was shot in the chest at point-blank range (I guess I wasn’t that nice of a guy to be around, lol). Sadly enough, the mark on him looked a lot like a common fungus which is caught in most wrestling rooms, known as ringworm. He was unable to wrestle and had to sit out because of the wound. While many of my other memories have to do with us playing Madden or watching him and Kevin play Super Smash Bro’s, it was in the wrestling room that I really got to know Austin.
As time went on, I would see Austin periodically at the houses of different friends and we would always have something stupid to laugh about. But as I started to see less and less of him, I knew that there was something else going on. While it pains me to admit, I was texted by Austin one day because his mom and dad wanted to drug test him. While Austin knew I was an alcoholic at the time, he also knew that I never touched anything else and a test from me would come up clean. As a stupid, irresponsible young kid, I thought I’d be doing him a favor by helping him stay out of trouble with his parents and I obliged. Please, Please, let this be a lesson to people: YOU ARE NOT HELPING YOUR FRIENDS WHEN YOU THINK YOU ARE KEEPING THEM “OUT OF TROUBLE”. The true trouble comes when the issue is not dealt with and the problem is not solved.
The call I received the following day (3 years ago today) was one that I did not expect. I was told that Austin went up to live with Kevin in sober living, and that he was doing great. He had been clean for a good amount of time and I really wanted to hang out with him and Kevin together again. But that wouldn’t happen. Kevin called me after he stepped out of the motel room where he found Austin. Austin had OD’d and I didn’t know what to say. I was truly devastated and knew that my friend Kevin would also need his friends more than ever. Nobody should have to walk in on their friend dead…nobody! There is nothing that you can do to prepare yourself for that and there is nothing that a parent can do to prepare to bury their child. Before Austin’s passing, my wife and I had started a ministry called Revivus, because we wanted to reach out to not only people like myself, who spent the majority of life as an atheist/alcoholic, but also for people like my wife who grew up in the church, to help serve those who have fallen victim to Satan’s snare. You may have never had a problem with drugs, alcohol, etc., but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out and pray and help those who have. You might be like me, and have made terrible decisions in your life, that doesn’t mean you cannot steer people away from those decisions and onto the right one. We serve a God who cares for the downtrodden. We serve a God who helped those who could never help themselves (all of us). We serve a God who sent His only Son for us. He was tempted and hated and mocked and ridiculed and yet DID NOT SIN. Let us commit our efforts valiantly to see that our friends no longer fall victim to Satan’s schemes!
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. –1 Peter 5:8
If you or someone you know needs help recovering from a drug problem, contact Teen Challenge.