Ken Hunter (left) shakes hands with Bishop David Roller. (Photo by Michael J. Metts)
Free Methodist Church of Greensburg (Pa.) Assistant Pastor Ken Hunter grew up attending church, but he had divided loyalties.
Looking back now, Hunter said he had “one foot in the world and one foot in the Word.” He experienced religion rather than a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
“I would try, but when I would fail to follow the rules, I would throw my hands up and throw myself into sin,” Hunter said.
He began using drugs at age 12 during a tumultuous year that included the birth of his sister and the death of his stepfather.
“I was very good at hiding my drug use. I was involved in church,” Hunter said. “I was involved with the youth group, but I wasn’t being honest with anybody, and there was nobody really checking up on what I was doing.”
Marriage and fatherhood temporarily halted the drug use.
“I had two kids, and that cleaned me up for many years,” he said. “Once the kids were born, I wanted to do what was right and what was right by them.”
Family life and a career as a nurse were going well when Hunter began using morphine and other drugs in his 30s.
“For someone who is fond of drugs, maybe nursing isn’t the career for that person,” Hunter said. “It gave me easy access, and from there, that’s where my addiction really took hold.”
Hunter overdosed in June 2001. He said that if his wife had not been home at the time, he would have died.
Rehab and Relapse
His drug use continued until September 2001. He abstained from drugs for the next six years before relapsing.
He said the relapse occurred “because I didn’t have God in my life. I didn’t acknowledge God in my recovery. I did not acknowledge God for saving my life.”
He lost his job and feared he would lose his family. He entered rehab.
Meanwhile, his 24-year-old sister suffered from her own addiction. While in rehab, he received word that his sister and a friend had died because of their drug use.
“I can’t even describe the guilt, shame and torment I felt,” Hunter said. “I was her big brother, and I was supposed to be there to protect her.”
His mother visited in December 2008 and told him about “The Shack” by William Paul Young. He read the entire book in one afternoon, knelt and “cried out to God in repentance for all of those years of knowing the truth and not following the truth, knowing that He was my Lord and Savior but not giving Him the credit.”
Hunter has been drug-free for six years. He encourages anyone struggling with addiction to put faith and hope in Christ while also seeking help and accountability from other people.
“Find someone you can be honest with,” said Hunter, who began pursuing pastoral ministry full-time in 2011. “We can’t do it