AddictionHealingRecovery 5 minutes to read

Where were you on March 13, 2020, when Covid was declared a national emergency?

I was playing ping-pong with my roommate at the gym in Dallas, Texas. We stopped playing to watch President Trump make the historic announcement. It was at that moment, I realized life as I knew it was about to radically change. 

I was an intern with Cru working for Josh McDowell Ministry (JMM), but quickly returned home to South Dakota to be with family. Reality seemed stranger than fiction. We weren’t allowed in the office, meetings were virtual, and events were canceled. 

But recovery wasn’t. I had begun an online Pure Desire group three months earlier at the start of 2020—while the world was shutting down, the doors of hope in my life were flying wide open.

But if I’m being honest, before joining the group I was bitter toward the idea of freedom from lust and masturbation and skeptical of my coworker, Ben (Bennett, you know him?), who spoke of living free for seven years. 

After being addicted to porn for six years throughout high school, with lust and masturbation as my good friends, God radically changed my life! I was 18 and at Summit Ministries in Colorado, where I sat in a room of guys sharing honestly about their struggles with pornography and I discovered I wasn’t alone. 

I returned home to my small town in South Dakota and told my mom everything. I thought if I shared my story, maybe the story would be different for my three younger brothers. My mom was angry and felt like a failure of a parent, yet she responded with care and installed Accountable2You on every device our family owned. That day, the war on pornography was waged—but my good friends lust and masturbation remained close throughout college with the occasional access of soft-core pornography. 

It was in applying to work at JMM after college that I had three hours worth of conversations about sexual immorality and my relationship with lust, masturbation, and pornography. 

You see, I had applied to travel with Josh McDowell as his personal assistant, but they said because of my former addiction and current binge-purge cycle, they couldn’t hire me. They couldn’t put me under stress and alone in hotel rooms on the road. What? You’ve got to be kidding me? I’m willing to raise support and you’re rejecting me?

Instead, they offered me a position in their office in Plano, Texas, with the stipulation that I would go through a Pure Desire group. It felt like God’s wrath toward me, but it was truly one of His greatest acts of kindness and mercy. It was a path toward freedom. It wasn’t attractive. In fact, it was a 10-month commitment to meeting with other men I had never met and uncovering pain I never wanted to think about again. I had tried so many times before, would this group really be different?

And this is why I am grateful for imagination.

Because without it, I couldn’t have imagined what life might look like free from addiction. 

As John Mark Comer said in his book, Live No Lies, “We are the only creatures that have the capacity to imagine what isn’t but could be.”

We turn empty lots into beautiful family homes. We imagine our ideal vacations and months later return from wandering through European cities and countries. We dream of the perfect meal and hours later the aroma wafts through the house and the table is set. 

I had no problem realizing the mess I had gotten myself into. I could clearly draw out my road to addiction. But simply understanding where you’ve been and are now isn’t powerful enough to insight change. Where are you headed? You need a God-given vision of what your road to recovery and life will look like. 

Solomon seems to have agreed when he wrote, 

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18 ESV

Dream with God and cast a vision.

  • What will it take to walk in recovery? 
  • What will life look like for you as you walk in restoration? 
  • What will you spend your free time doing? 
  • What relationships could be restored? 
  • What will be removed? 
  • What is God calling you to do? 
  • Who are you becoming? 

The beautiful reality is God does this with us.

Look at what Jesus says in John 1:42, 

And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.

John 1:42 KJV

The Greek word here for beheld is Emblepo. 

This word is used 10 times in the Gospels and twice in Acts, and, on many occasions, Jesus is looking upon someone or a situation and “seeing through it.” Emblepo can be viewed through the lens of recovery in that Christ not only sees who we are now, but He sees through us to who we will become.

Jesus, Himself, sees through your addiction now and sees who you will become. Although for Jesus it isn’t imagination because He sees the reality that is to come. Simon could have never understood how difficult it would be to follow Christ or what he would endure, but the vision propelled him. With God-given vision and purpose we are able to courageously walk the road of recovery knowing God sees who we are today and who we will become! He emblepos us!

At the age of 18, it was the vision God gave me of speaking out against pornography and changing the way the world sees it that pulled me forward. Though I was once an addict, I dreamed of what God would do with me as a free man. I dreamed of sharing my story of brokenness; so that the next generation might not know addiction but know Jesus and life to the full! The year was grueling as I unpacked secrets, worst moments, lies, cycles of addiction, and submitted myself to a Recovery Action Plan and the group, but it was worth it. I learned what it took to live in health, and though I had been hurt in relationships, relationships became the place in which God healed me. 

Recovery is not simply freedom from sin, but also freedom to life…and life in abundance.

This is what Jesus said, 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

And life in abundance is not a life free of constraints, but rather choosing the right constraints and a life submitted to pursuing what God defines as good. 

Can you see it? The man or woman who is walking in freedom? Deeply wounded, yet powerfully healed. Boasting in their weaknesses and the power of God being made perfect? That’s my story. He did it for me and I believe that if you stay the course, He’ll do it for you as well.

John Begeman

John is the Donor Development Manager for Pure Desire. He has a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies and worked for Josh McDowell Ministry prior to joining Pure Desire. He is passionate about his God-sized dream: speaking out against pornography and changing the way the church sees it. John loves connecting with people who have been impacted by Pure Desire and encouraging them to carry the torch of freedom farther in their local communities.

4 Comments

  1. Mike Maxwell

    So good John. Thank you!

  2. orwhkngt@comcast.net

    Thank you John for sharing your story. We have a God who accepts us in whatever state we are in (which is broken in some way) and wants to lift us up to the abundant life He has in store for us. It can be a difficult journey and it is more than worth it! Russ Bennett

  3. Charles Martin

    I was fortunate to talk with John a few weeks ago after I had been moved by the Holy Spirit to become a monthly donor to Team 58 at Pure Desire. As Donor Development Manager, John is articulate and driven to take on the Dragon of Pornography for broken men and women. His enthusiasm during the call was wonderful and infectious. He will help PD immensely I’m sure. However, when I learned of the very small number of regular donors, I was very surprised. Quite frankly, I was appalled if you really want to know the truth. Less than 125 donors are currently stepping up. The battle of Pornography is huge and will take millions and millions of dollars if we as the church are to make any true impact on its effects. I challenge every “graduate” of a Pure Desire group to give!!! Even if it is only $10.00 per month, every little bit helps. With Gods help, we can make a change in this vicious cycle of brokenness and take back our inheritance in Christ!!!! Won’t you help this great cause??? Please give!!!!

  4. Robert Hekker

    Thank you John. I love saying my “prophetic promises” every morning before my feet hit the floor.

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