Tim Williams talks about the dramatic turnaround his life has taken since he stopped using drugs and alcohol and put his faith in Jesus Christ. Williams, who now works with New Creation Addiction Ministry, helps other addicts find a new life in Christ. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Tim Williams talks about the dramatic turnaround his life has taken since he stopped using drugs and alcohol and put his faith in Jesus Christ. Williams, who now works with New Creation Addiction Ministry, helps other addicts find a new life in Christ. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
When Tim Williams was released from jail two years ago, he had no home, no job, no education and almost no one to turn to.

"I literally had a laundry basket full of clothes," he said. "That's where I was."

That changed with one phone call.

Williams - a drug and alcohol abuser for 14 years who has spent a total of five years behind bars - dialed up Bobby Shepherd, a Jefferson County resident who worked with Williams and other inmates through a jail ministry program.

Shepherd offered Williams a stable home, found him a job and assisted with finances. It was through Shepherd that Williams discovered his faith.

What has followed is a 180-degree turnaround in Williams' life.

"Christ is what filled that void that I was looking for all those years. And gave me a different outlook on life," Williams said.

In those short 27 months since being homeless, Williams has earned visitation privileges with his 6-year-old daughter, maintained a job, erased thousands of dollars of debt and court fines, earned his GED and had his driver's license reinstated.

He also has joined a Christian outreach program that assists current and recovering drug addicts and alcoholics called, New Creation Addiction Ministries. The nonprofit organization works with men in the Scott County area suffering from addiction issues. The organization helps with court fines, job placement and housing. They also offer faith-based counseling to individuals and their families.

It's a mentoring role that Williams has wholeheartedly embraced, having lived through the grips of addiction. And he's eager to share his story with those also struggling or as a cautionary tale to teach youth about substance abuse.

"When you get down to it, most people are just one or two choices away from being that person," Williams said. "And this ministry offers hope."

Williams' own addiction issues began early in his life.

He acquired a taste for alcohol at 10 years old. Drugs soon followed, and by 17, he was kicked out of school in Henryville.

"Bottom line is living without Christ in your life, and everything in the world becomes acceptable. The cussin', the fightin' ..." he said.

He later joined a labor union and started his career. Soon after, he was introduced to a different crowd that enjoyed a fast-paced life filled with drugs, alcohol and various amphetamines.

He quickly joined in, and in no time, the substances had Williams in a tight squeeze.

He made a generous wage, but blew his weekly salary fueling his drug habit. His living conditions were completely unfit. He made it through winters without heat and summers without air-conditioning.

"You think, 'I'm not going to be that person I buy my drugs from.' And next thing you know, you are that person," he said.

Williams was particularly fond of pills, as well as methamphetamine. And as his addiction progressed, his options and future quickly faded. He eventually lost custody of his daughter and continued his decline until hitting rock bottom.

"Quite honestly, when it was all said and done, I had three options: Overdose, suicide or go to jail. And I got to go to jail after I survived an overdose," he said.

Jail no doubt saved Williams life, and it steered him in the direction of Shepherd, who true to his name, encouraged Williams to learn about Christ.

Before meeting Bobby, Williams said he always had something to hang on to or look forward to after his release. In the past, his parents had helped him with a car or he would find a new job through his labor union.

But two years ago, Williams found himself with no back-up plan. His job was gone and his family had been put through enough. His dad told him he wasn't willing to give him a place to stay, money or a vehicle.

However, after a chance meeting with his father, Williams said his dad agreed to bring him food once a day at a specific place and time.

"So, for a month, I'd stand there, rain or shine, on the curb waiting for my dad to come through and bring me something to eat," Williams said.

Not long after living on the street, Williams picked up the phone and called Shepherd, who had offered him a place to stay after meeting him through the jail ministries.

"I called him up, and was like, 'Were you for real?' And he said, 'ya.'" Williams said.

Since finding his footing, Williams has worked on rebuilding his relationship with his family. A few weeks ago, he pulled into his family's restaurant in Henryville and had a sit-down conversation with his parents.

The meeting went so well he said his folks even gave him contacts for family friends they knew to be struggling through substance abuse issues.

The sign of faith meant the world to Williams, who readily admits and understands his parents' caution.

"Ten years of hurt. ... It's taken over two years, up until this point, for me and my family to have a relationship again," he said.

While Williams' continues to mend ties with his family, he has found steady support.

Shepherd remembers the day he brought Williams into the home.

He briefly told his wife, Mary, who he later found out had some concerns - which were quickly erased once Williams met the entire family. Shepherd admitted to knowing very little about Williams, but told his wife he trusted him.

While making jail visits, Shepherd noticed that Williams had a certain focus and drive to change his ways.

"It just seemed like every week I always got to the point where I looked forward to seeing him," Shepherd said. "And I thought maybe when he did get out, this time he'd be ready to change his life."

Shepherd thought right.

The two have clicked well, encouraging one another to stay on the path of their faith.

Shepherd also helped Williams with organizing his finances, which was quite a tall order once collection bills and pending fines began flowing in from numerous states. The total reached about $25,000.

For months, a huge chunk of Williams' paycheck went to the debt until it was down to zero.

Williams also worked to regain his driver's license. Because of his numerous infractions, he faced a possible 10-year driving ban, but the license was reinstated once he paid an outstanding court fine in Louisville.

Williams began earning back his life.

One of the final hurdles was earning the GED. After a job at Clifty Creek Power Plant came to a completion, he pursued his education full time. He had made half-hearted attempts in the past, but last fall Williams pushed through the program and passed all five sections of the exam on the first try.

"Through a lot of prayer, a lot of studying and a lot of dedication, I was able to pass."

With his new diploma, Williams plans to attend a seminary in Louisville full time in the fall. When he thinks about his progress over the past several months, Williams is almost in disbelief.

"If you had told me two years ago I'd be here today, I'd have called you a liar," he said.

Williams plans to continue his path with the addiction ministry program as well as his journey as a Christian.

"The bottom line is about success, is whether you work at McDonald's or whether you're a doctor or nurse or whatever, the only success is entering the Kingdom of Heaven," Williams said.