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Captured by the Drug Culture; Freed by Christ
The life that God touches, He radically transforms, and the transformation lasts. A former drug addict can testify to that.

Captured by the 1960s hippie drug culture, Alex Parachin walked along the streets of Toronto, trying to avoid the splashes of colour—flashes of a Picasso painting, from a bad drug trip that had been laced with strychnine.

"I remember weeping every time the preacher talked about Jesus … "

Parachin was born in 1950 to Russian immigrants in Timmins, Ontario, where his dad worked in the gold mine and his mother served the lunch counter at Kresge's. For a while she took her children to a Pentecostal church.

"I remember weeping every time the preacher talked about Jesus and His death on the cross," says Parachin. However, one day the family stopped going.

Years later Parachin's family moved to Strathroy, but Parachin rebelled, so his mother arranged to have him live in Timmins with a Free Methodist preacher and his wife, Jim and Marion Poynter, to finish the required Grade 12.

Upon graduation, Parachin applied to re-enter high school to prepare for university, but the principal refused him because of his rebellious attitude. Poynter vouched for him, and the principal telephoned to admit him. Two minutes later, the phone rang again with his 16-year-old girlfriend, Donna, calling from a phone booth. "I'm pregnant!" she said, weeping.

In Toronto, the pair became part of the hippie scene. Donna never took drugs, but became very ill. Parachin's mother sent train tickets and nursed her back to health. Returning to Toronto Donna gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Candace. Later the couple decided to marry, but the waiting list at City Hall was several months long. "The only person I could think of was Jim Poynter," says Parachin.

The young parents arrived with seven-month old Candy at the Poynter's home the night before the wedding and settled into different rooms. "He knew what our lifestyle was," says Parachin. "There was no judgement. There was simply loving kindness."

Still Parachin was uncomfortable and Poynter sensed it. "Would you like to go for a ride?" he asked. They ended up at the church office where Parachin talked about his philosophies until three in the morning. "I felt emptier and emptier as I shared," says Parachin. "I realized in my heart that I hadn't found the answer to life."

Parachin looked at Poynter through his tinted John Lennon glasses. "I know you're a minister. If you want to pray, go ahead and pray. I'm not going to freak out or anything."

Parachin doesn't remember the words of Poynter's prayer. All Parachin remembers is that he gave up. "God if you're there, and if any of this is true about Jesus," prayed Parachin out loud, "if you'll put the footsteps in front of me one step at a time, I'll follow you."

Suddenly an overwhelming sense of peace and joy flooded him. A sense of another presence was in the room. He says he felt a pulsating power flow through him. Parachin opened his eyes to see Poynter still praying with his eyes closed and his hand stretched out to him, and it seemed that the pulsating power flowed from his fingertips. Then Parachin knew.

"I knew, that I knew, that I knew that God was real; that Jesus was the Son of God; that He died on the cross for our sins," says Parachin. "I struggled with certain things," he says. "The after-affects of those drugs lingered with me for years, but my lifestyle changed immediately. I turned around 180 degrees. I wasn't taking drugs any more. I was reading my Bible and talking about Jesus."

Today Alex and Donna Parachin are involved in separate full-time Christian ministries. Alex is president of the 700 Club in Canada, and Donna is executive director of Singing Waters in Orangeville, Ontario. Alex became an engineering technologist. While working at CP Telecommunications by day, he attended Bible college and achieved the silver medal from the Governor General of Canada for Academic Achievement at Bible College. Candace is a professional Christian musician and the Parachin's son, Adam, is a law professor at an Ontario university.

Marianne Foscarini is a freelance writer based in Markham, Ontario.

Originally published in Christian Current, June 2005.

 

 
 
 
 

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