“God is Mighty to Save” is a song we sing a lot aroung Springs of Grace. It is also a truth we believe. This testimony encouraged me today to pray for God’s mighty work of salvation to blow on many “impossible” hearts in Tulsa.
Ray and Lisa are my friends. Their testimony of being delivered from drugs and criminal activity brought me to tears. God is so incredibly good. — Melody Green
THE DEVIL THE DOPE MAN
True Story of Ray and Lisa Stribling
It was the year 1975. I was up on a hill in a roach-infested, filthy, rundown house; I was in a bathroom and the smell of stale alcohol, and musty soiled laundry was enough to make you sick. I was with some older people. We tied a belt around my arm and slammed a needle full of PCP (THC) into my veins. I was only twelve years old.
I was the last born in a large family. We had just come out of a year where tragedies had visited us. I had no father. I had an absent mother, and my destiny was the streets.
I wandered the neighborhoods and the streets and hung with people that were older, harder, and who were all too ready to educate me in what I needed to know to survive. I stayed high on THC everyday; and when I was 13 years old, I overdosed in the back seat of a car.
We stole cars, burglarized houses, and took anything that wasn’t nailed down. We were 14 year old drug dealers: dealing THC, weed, speed, and cocaine. We drank any kind of alcohol we could steal.
I had my first baby when I was 15, and by the time I was 16, I was a full-on drug addict. I was a junkie. At 17 years old, I was kicked out on the street, and was living in my car with a one year old son. The more pain I felt the more drugs I used and the higher I became. That same year I caught my first felony forgery case.
I started running with a whole different crowd and met a dude who showed me how to “hit myself”. I learned quickly if you were going to be a dope shooter, you couldn’t depend on anyone else in the game to do it for you. This was the element that helped seal my fate.
Over the next 12 years, the hole got deeper and darker. We were thieves. We were robbers, and we didn’t care who got hurt along the way. We lived in a world where women were beaten into submission and gunfights were a regular occurrence.
We were drug dealers and ran several dope houses in the city. We were not only selling large quantities of meth and cocaine, we were addicted and using large quantities. We stayed awake for weeks at a time, only to black out, wake up and start over. We had access to any kind of pharmaceuticals that we wanted.
Our doors got kicked in by the police more times than can be counted, often leaving our children completely traumatized. The Narcotic and Burglary Unit were always putting out warrants on us, and we were on a first name basis with the bail bondsman.
Many of our comrades were lost to the streets. They were in car wrecks and motorcycle wrecks. They overdosed. They hung themselves. They were stabbed to death. They were beaten to death. They were shot and killed. The ones that were fortunate enough to live are now living a life behind bars.
In 1983, I married that dude who taught me how to “hit myself”. We went on to have three more children. Our children were raised up in the dope house. They saw people shooting drugs, and they saw people smoking crack. They were abandoned. They were neglected, and saw more than any little set of eyes should ever be responsible for seeing.
Those years were filled with pain. They were filled with abuse. They were hard. They were fast. If you couldn’t stand still with a pistol pointed at your forehead, or if you couldn’t watch someone get nearly beaten to death and keep a straight face and your mouth shut; you were in the wrong line of work. At anytime that you walked into a house or hotel to make your drug deal, there could be big screen pornography going on. They were years filled with guns, violence, and murder. They were filled with adultery and abortion, with more drugs and more pain.
We were addicted to methamphetamine; and if anyone’s ever been addicted, they will tell you that even more addicting was the needle—new, used, out of the trash, it didn’t matter. We were addicted and couldn’t get off. We were junkies.
27 Years Old
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord plans for peace and not of evil, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
In the center of the chaos, the pain and the addictions, the Lord Jesus was calling my name. I had a family who was targeting me in prayer. They simply didn’t have any other answers.
One of my older brothers had a dream; and in the dream he was given the information, “Begin to cry out for mercy for your sister, or I’m going to allow the devil to have his way.” The same night while he was having the dream, I was in a car chase, traveling 90 miles an hour down the main street. One of the cars rolled. Two cars were totaled, but my life was spared.
After my brother told me that dream, in the quietness of my own soul, I began to beg God for deliverance. I had needles hanging out of my arm, but it made no difference. My thoughts were, “If I could just get to You, God….Please help me.”
“And in my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God. He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” Psalm 18:6
In October 1989, I was in the Jackson County Jail for writing stolen checks. I was in jail long enough to become completely sober, and I had one of the most strange and wonderful things happen to me. I had a dream. I had what I like to call the first encounter where I knew God was paying attention to me. Without going into the details of the dream, I understood that He was saying, “A very, very evil presence is chasing you in the form of drugs. But I hear your prayers, and I am coming to you. I will make a way of escape for you. And when I do, you must say ‘Yes’ to Me in humility.”
When I awoke, I didn’t have a clue what it meant, but I knew He was a God Who hears and a God Who answers prayers. Right there in the cell I got down on my knees and made the commitment to listen for His coming.
“They confronted me in the day of my calamity. But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place. He delivered me because He delighted in me.” Psalm 18:18-19
You have to understand that I got released on bond, and went on to do drugs for four more months.
In January of 1990, while serving time in jail, my husband went to a church service, and the man giving the sermon said that the devil was the dope man. He said the devil is the dope. It was the first time that he had ever heard anything like that. When the man gave the call to come forward, my husband went forward and the wind of God blew through him, and he got delivered of all drugs, and never touched them again. He was totally set free.
He was in jail for 30 more days. It was a few days before he was released that I shot methamphetamine into my arms for the very last time. The Lord just took it from both of us.
In the four months while I continued to do drugs, as I think back over that time, I realize that the Lord was teaching me something that is the basis of my spiritual journey.
Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector [drug addict]. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this [dope addict]. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the [dope addict], standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14
The Lord began to show me that it was not the drugs that were sending me to hell. It was the fact that I was refusing to accept His grace and forgiveness and was trusting in myself for freedom. He does not want us to use the drugs, but that is a secondary problem to the true issue which is: we are sinners in need of a Savior. The drugs are of the devil. The devil is the dope man. He steals from us, hurts us and leaves us empty.
The tax collector (drug addict) admits his weakness and understands he is a sinner who needs Jesus. His heart cry is, “I am a sinner,” and it justifies him before God and makes all his prayers reach the Father’s ears. It is neither the drugs nor his lifestyle that is sending him to Hell. It is the refusal to accept Jesus as His Savior.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, lest his deeds should be exposed…..
And that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:19, 15
The drugs and the lifestyle are the fruit of serving the devil.
My husband, Ray and I were both saved that year while we were in jail. God visited both of us in two different locations while we were in jail. That is the miracle of God. However, because we both had charges pending we had to go on and serve time in prison. We had sown so much into the devil’s kingdom that the road out was long, and sometimes seemed never ending.
It has been 19 years since He set me free from the street life. My life is now filled with the testimony of the abundance of Jesus. He says, “I came to give life and life more abundantly.”
He has restored my marriage. We have been together now for 30 years. We raised our children, and were able to give them a radically transformed life. Although sometimes hard, and not always pretty (because of the reaping of what we sowed), it has all been redemptive. Our children’s lives are bearing godly fruit. We went on to be leaders in the church, and have had the opportunity to go back into the jails and the streets to minister Jesus to the broken. God has given us grace to lead many out of the pit and into his salvation. His intention is to never ever, ever leave a fallen comrade behind.
He wants to use you. His desire is for you.
“For the earth groans and eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19
As a part of our ministry today, we are praying for and believing in a nationwide revival, for the breaking in of God’s power across the cities of America. If you are a drug addict, and you are reading this right now…
Do…..Stop right now and pray the prayer of salvation. He will accept you right where you are. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:9, 13.
Do….Repent and turn from your sin, your addiction. The Bible says that to repent means to turn away from. Sometimes instantaneous deliverance happens, like it did for my husband. Sometimes it is a struggle like it was for me, for 4 months. I encourage you to make it a daily routine in your life to call out to God for deliverance. Do it until you get the answer. Remember the story of the tax collector. Make a commitment to do it for the next 90 days. High or straight, it matters not. He will not leave you or forsake you. All are answered who call on Him .
Do….Get yourself in a church that follows Jesus. It does not matter if it’s odd, weird, or you are uncomfortable. Stay at it. You must put yourself in this environment. Do not be so short minded. God has a plan, and will take you to the place that He desires you to be. And from that place he will direct you to the next place .
Do….Forgive anyone that you need to forgive, and get into a support center or counseling, or get with someone who can help you.
Do….Find someone and tell them that you became a Christian. You must find someone to walk this out with.
If you confess Jesus before men, He will confess you before His Father in heaven. But if you deny Him before men, He will deny you before God. Matthew 10:32-33
Do….Read your Bible everyday.
Do….Begin to settle yourself down. One of the hardest things for an addict to do is be still. Be silent before the Lord (Zeph 1:7). We must practice this and form this new habit of being still and praying before the Lord. The noise and the chaos and the drama runs off the Holy Spirit of conviction that helps change you and lead you.
Do….Begin to recognize and cut off relationships that are destructive and of the devil. You must do this!! This is non-negotiable.
Don’t… Don’t go back to your dope buddies or your drunk buddies preaching Jesus while you are getting high with them. It’s a bad testimony and there’s nothing worse than a drunk or whacked out preacher trying to tell people what to do. Go low, and let God lead you. Oftentimes, people are slicker than you are when it comes to the Gospel and will snatch it away from you. The Bible says, “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” Often this leads to open doors of negativity and doubt. Chill for a minute and let God lead you. I encourage you to give your testimony. It is wisdom to do it under the guidance of people that are leading you, your spiritual leaders. Just try to keep out of familiar scenes. If you have to go back, stay low; and keep involved in the church community.
Don’t….Get yourself involved in another relationship and don’t make any rash decisions involving your current relationships. Oftentimes people make rash decisions regarding marriage and divorce and regret it later. Give yourself 6 months and find out who you are. Don’t be in such a hurry.
Don’t….Don’t do drugs after you have been set free and say that God has not made you free. Take responsibility for your actions. You will never succeed if you don’t take ownership for yourself . If you have made a mistake, then start over and keep at it.
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Lisa and Ray Stribling are the founders of Hope City KC, a prayer-based ministry to the poor, homeless, prostituted, and addicted. They have many years of experience in jail, prayer, and street ministry, and are faithfully preaching the gospel and feeding the poor in Kansas City’s toughest neighborhoods.
Read More about the work they are doing and how you can help.
If you want copies of this testimony in tract format, contact Lisa and Ray at their website: