Larry & Sue Jarvis have been chaplains at the Medina County Jail since 1996. They have had life experiences that prove the power of God…that God can give victory even the most difficult of circumstances. Their goal is to share the life-giving message of Jesus with others, and then train believers to become world-changing examples of Christ.
The Jarvis’s have three children, Daniel, Debbie, and Davy, and have lived in Medina County for over 30 years.
I grew up in an alcoholic home where my father routinely made a fool of himself. Determined to never be like this man who embarrassed me so, I knew for sure I didn’t want to be a drunk. So at 18 I was out with my friends experimenting with LSD. My drug use branched out from there to marijuana, speed, and cocaine. Of course, alcohol was in the mix as well…but I was not an alcoholic like Dad.
By age 23 I was tired of the whole drug scene. I married a girl who didn’t do drugs and thought for sure that that would end my illegal lifestyle. I even moved from Florida to Ohio to be with my new wife. Things started off well. I had a job and we were happily married. It was fun getting established and being secure in a relationship.
Then somehow over the years, things got stressful. Life changed. The pressures of being a husband, father, and provider seemed overwhelming. “How was I supposed to be a good dad?” I wondered. I’d never seen one. What if I was a failure just like my dad before me?
I started drinking and smoking dope. It mellowed me out and made life more livable somehow. My wife didn’t complain, so I continued. But then I got a job on the East side of Cleveland where everyone drank, gambled, and snorted coke. You could get any drug you wanted right outside the door of the shop.
Life quickly got out of control. I ended up working two jobs. One kept my family going respectably. One kept my drugs going. I didn’t want it to be that way….but somehow, everything seemed out of control. My wife would question the amount of weight loss pills I was taking (by the handful), or ask what my problem was when I was mean and irritable. I never had an answer. I had no emotional warmth to give my family, it all got sucked up by the drugs. I’d be excited at the thought of going home to them, but when I got home, their expectations seemed to make me feel like I was to blame for not being perfect.
I was miserable…depressed…out of control. There seemed to be nothing left for me in life. I thought about suicide. Here I was living in a nice development in Medina with a wife and two great kids. We had nice belongings and took fun vacations. But I couldn’t relax and I couldn’t stop. I could only figure out one possible place to turn.
My wife had become a Christian about five years before this and I had seen what Jesus did for her. It seemed like she had Someone who was always there for her. Her prayers got answered in amazing ways. She definitely had something that I didn’t. Something I needed.
I asked her what I needed to do to have Jesus. She told me I needed to tell Him how sorry I was for all of my sins and then give Him my life. I was happy to….it seemed like I was getting the better end of the bargain. I gave Him my messed-up life and He would give me strength and hope. What He was getting out of the deal, I couldn’t see…but I decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I took my wife and two children in my arms and prayed aloud to the God I had never had time for. I told Him I was sorry for the way my life was going and asked Him to take control of it.
I have to tell you, my heart changed. My desires changed. Gone was the desire or consuming need to get high! My knowledge of right and wrong changed. It wasn’t a struggle to want to do what was right anymore! My love for my family changed. I was actually free to give them my time and attention at last. I gave my life to Jesus and there was no turning back–who would ever want to?
That was more than fifteen years ago. Fifteen years of making up for lost time, of going to church, reading my Bible, and learning to love. They have been the best years of my life. Nothing brings me more joy than to tell people about the Savior who picked me up when I was down and who brought me victory over my despair. There was a Way Out of my addictions. His name is Jesus and if we follow Him, He’ll lead us in victories that we have never imagined possible…all for our good and His glory.
>> Larry’s testimony was also included in LifeChange Magazine – the Addictions Issue. This publication also includes helpful information for people seeking freedom from their own addictions. (Download a free PDF)