(The Ben Maestas Story Told By: Jack Olsen)

He'd doze off, ten minutes, fifteen if he was lucky. Then he'd wake up slapping fleas. 

That's how Ben Maestas spent his nights, on an old army cot that served as the daytime nest for a bunch of flea infested cats and dogs. 

His room was equally pathetic: an eight-foot long, five foot wide clearing on a screen porch, used to store the flotsam of a house full of drug addicts. There was no furniture, not even a night stand. Beyond the porch was just dirt covered in animal excrement that got tracked onto his cot. At least the dirt could be brushed off, but not the stink and especially not the fleas. Filth reigned inside and out. 

Sometimes he wished he were back in prison. 

At least there he had a little space, a chair, a sink and toilet and a place to keep a few possessions. His bed was clean, the floors mopped and people showered. And, he could at least sleep the sleep of depression. 

And there was anxiety. Who would get knifed or killed today? Will it be me? But the anxiety of prison had been replaced by a worse torment: he was trapped in a pit of drug addiction that was smothering out his life. The drug was Methadone, administered by the state. Without Methadone he would have doubtless committed another robbery or something worse. He'd either be back in prison or dead from an overdose, perhaps deliberate. What was intended to keep him free was a trap. His counselor warned that to break away, would almost certainly mean death. He tried that too. 

Drugs had taken everything from him. He was an expert welder, but unable to keep money or hold a job. Because of drugs he lost his wife and children. Now his girlfriend of nine years had kicked him out. And so to Ben's worthless life was added rejection, aloneness, emptiness and desperation, 

He had nowhere to turn but the streets. So, when a friend offered a cot and a permanent shelter he couldn't question it. Thus, to misery was added months of exhaustion. 

Ben stroked his whiskered face and looked into a mirror. What he saw was barely recognizable. Looking back at him was a pitiful, dirty creature. He watched as tears formed in the creature's eyes; then turned away, crying. There was nothing left. Ben Maestas, who was always clean and well dressed, even in the worst times, was lost. He sank to his knees weeping, crying the cry of the damned; pleading for mercy, calling out to a God he'd tried to reach so often before, but couldn't. A dirty, broken heap of a pathetic child, trying to plead with a mighty King. "Oh God, there's nowhere I can go, but to you. Please, please, if you're real, please take the drugs from me." Only God knows how long he cried, calling the name, "Lord Jesus." 

He opened his little methadone lock-box and held up his last one-dose bottle. Still crying, "Look, look. Lord, if you can hear me out there, listen. I'm going to drink this bottle of methadone. After that, I'm not going to take any more drugs. I'm going to let you take care of me. And to show you I mean business, after I drink it, I'm going to throw it all in the trash." 

Without the empties and the box he wouldn't be able to get more. Ben knew he'd soon be dead without the Methadone or God's help. 

Still crying, he drank the last bottle, walked out into the alley and threw the box and bottles in the trash. 

When the methadone started working, he would light a cigarette. It was the only comfort he'd known. He sat on the cot, picked up his cigarettes from the floor, lit one, drew deeply. 

And gagged. He tried another. It was the same. He thought a cat had urinated on his cigarettes. So, he walked to a convenience store and bought another pack. He leaned against the counter and lit up. 


Then he knew. 

"I'm free. I'm free! And God is real. He's real, real, real!" 

Ben says, "God had delivered me from cigarettes and from drugs. I felt different. I was alive. I realized I felt different when I got off my knees, before drinking the last dose, like I was lightheaded. Everything looked different. Things smelled different. I could hear the birds singing and see the trees were green. I don't think I'd seen that before." 

God's kindness didn't stop there. 

Later that same day, Ben admits it made no earthly sense; He went outside wearing a tee shirt, jeans and jeans jacket. And with no money, he got on the nearest highway and started hitchhiking from San Bernardino to Denver. 

A few days later he met a pastor who had served time in San Quentin. He wanted to start a rehabilitation center and invited Ben to be his first guest. By God's grace and timing Ben had a good home. And God wasn't through. He brought in a woman who became Ben's wife, he provided money for their wedding and honeymoon, and gave him favor for a good job. 

Now Ben's greatest happiness comes from going into prisons, bringing the love, joy and freedom he has found to those who desperately need the same. His message is simple: "What He did for me He will do for you." 

Ben's story shouts the truth that God takes us as we are. Ben even lit a cigarette for comfort, after praying an action that would have branded him "unworthy" among some groups. It is interesting that God used a cigarette to give an immediate demonstration of His answer. He gave Ben no time to question the result. A second point: how many churches would have let this stinky, dirty, ex-con addict through their doors? Of course he was no longer marketable for a job. But God, who saw through the grime and into Ben's heart found it acceptable. 

That's what we all need. Like Ben, we don't have to clean up first. Jesus shed his blood to do that. We don't have to wait. All you have to do is ask - sincerely, fervently. But if you're like me, you just have to be ready and willing. 

Only then do we find true freedom.

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God?  If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW!  Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.


JESUS DID IT! and...


Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-21 is our assurance)