Turning Point’s Director, Norm Chandler, shares his testimony on the 700 club.
Here is the story that ran earlier this month on CBN, and here is a link to the video. http://www.cbn.com/tv/3596550311001
Norm Chandler was a drug dealer in the small town of Holtville, California. He manufactured and sold crystal meth and had no regard for the law. His rebellion against authority started in his youth. When his parents divorced, his mom worked to support the family, which left Norm often on his own.
“Before 6th grade I started smoking marijuana, (and) started hanging out with the wrong people. By 8th grade I had done my first line of cocaine. By 9th grade I was introduced to methamphetamine. Drugs just stimulated that rebellion. I was angry. I was angry ‘cause my parents divorced. I was angry because I didn’t have the relationship with my father.”
The other adults in his life didn’t help.
“My uncles were bank robbers and drug smugglers, man. When I was growing up in high school there was a kegerator with a keg of beer in the back yard and you help yourself. There was no example.”
Still, Norm hoped there was more to life, so he enlisted in the Air Force. After two years, he came back he came back and returned to the life he once knew.
“I got right back into that lifestyle and I started getting into selling drugs. I knew people that wanted drugs. I knew people that had drugs. So I started off selling cocaine, and then one day someone hit me up about some meth and I said, ‘Let me see what I can do.’”
Norm not only started selling meth, he used it — and felt invincible.
“I would close the bar here and I would go up to the fire station with off-duty police officers after the bar closed and shoot rounds of pool until sunup. I’d walk in the bathroom and do me a key of crystal meth and come back out and play pool with them.”
Over the years, his meth habit got even worse.
“I’m sitting there smoking an eight-ball meth a day. You know? That’s 3 ½ grams of meth a day, not even getting high like I used to just the depression, the suicidal thoughts that-that came to my head I mean, that was a couple of times I always killed myself just because I’m going to die a drug addict.”
Norm moved in with a friend.
“This guy, he would get high with me and stuff but he would tell me about God. He would tell me, ‘you need Jesus.’ And I would tell him, ‘man, you’re the reason I don’t go to church. You’re the reason I don’t look to this Jesus, this God, because you’re sitting here getting high with me.’ He goes, ‘I’m backslidden, but I know who God is.’ I believe the seed was planted in me then.”
That seed didn’t take root … but deep down, Norm did want to get clean but didn’t think he could.
“I clung to the hope that one day I’m going to change. I clung to that hope and I held on to that hope. If I go to rehab or go somewhere, I can change. But the fear of making, taking that first step, was so fearful because ‘what if i didn’t make it?’ Then I had no hope.”
When a friend taught him how to manufacture meth, that became his hustle. He stayed high and made money. But one day, police were questioning a neighbor, when they saw something suspicious in Norm’s driveway.
“They seen evidence of somebody looked like was making dope. There was battery tabs there and things like that. Things that – evidence of manufacturing was there, ‘cause I didn’t clean my mess up. They walked around the other side of my house and seen some marijuana plants. They’re like, ‘hey, come out of the house!’ I look out there and I see them, and I’m like, “oh God, there’s nowhere to run. There’s nothing to do. It’s over. I know it’s over.’”
Norm surrendered to authorities …
“When they cuffed me up and they picked me up off that ground, I felt the world lifted off of me, man. I felt the world lifted off of me. I felt like I could breathe again. ‘Cause I knew that was it. I knew that it was over.”
While in jail, he asked his sister to call an old friend, Mike, who was a now a Christian and the director of Turning Point Ministries, a Bible-based residency program for offenders.
“I used to get high with this guy. I’ve known him since I was 9 years old. I knew this guy, what he was about. I knew what he did. I knew what kind of dirtball he was. And I knew what he was now. And I knew that – God had to be for real.”
“I watched him walk with the Lord and I always knew that if he could do it. And so I told him, ‘I need your help. I want to come to your program.’”
He faced a seven-year prison sentence, but since Norm was a first-time offender, Mike was able to get him into Turning Point.
“I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior three days after I got there. I didn’t know exactly what it meant, I just knew that I did believe in this Jesus and I believed He could help me.”
Though he was now a Christian, transitioning to a new way of life was not easy.
“It took me a couple months to fully surrender to the Lord. Once I started praying and reading His Word and crying out to Him, then He started speaking to me. But I remember a day when I had forgiveness in my heart for the first time. I remember someone did something to me and instead of having that anger that I had in the past, I remember I just forgave him.”
Norm realized that he was loved.
“Daily I’m going to make mistakes, but I know that Jesus Christ forgives me. I’ve done some bad things in my life. I’m not proud of the life that I lived before Christ, but I know that I’m forgiven and I know that in my heart. And by knowing that in my heart, now I can forgive myself.”
When his time was up, he stayed to help other offenders know the love of God … and today, Norm is the director of Turning Point Ministries.
“I love going to the court system and talking to a district attorney and saying, ‘hey, give this guy a chance. Because I’m a testimony for that because they gave me a chance 10 years ago.’ And I can go and ask for that same chance for these men and give them that opportunity that God’s given me.”
“Think of the scripture Jeremiah 29:11, ‘I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and future.’ And that shows me that God’s Word’s right. I don’t have to live a life of addiction; that I’m set free by the blood of Jesus Christ.”