By Ryan Zepeda —
Unattended by his career-ambitious parents, Jim Rouches discovered his older brother’s stash of pot and LSD when he was only seven.
“The first time the euphoria hit me, my first thought was, I’m going to do this the rest of my life,” Jim says on a CBN video. “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever felt.’
He very nearly carried out the vow to life-long drug abuse.
Jim was the youngest (with his twin) of five siblings. His dad was an IBM executive; his mom, an entrepreneur. He would act up to try to get their attention. They were busy, busy, busy making money.
By middle school, he was a committed pothead. His parents divorced. After misbehaving with his mom, he was moved to his dad’s, where he shaped up for a time.
But when his mother developed lung cancer, Jim lost all motivation to stay on the higher path and resorted to his earlier vices, this time adding cocaine into the mix.
“I could go through $300, $400, $500 worth of coke very quickly,” he says.
When mom died, he got mad at her, as if she had given up and wouldn’t be there for him.
“I thought that she gave up and that she could beat cancer and that if I had cancer I would definitely beat it for her, or anyone else that I loved.”
Jim figured out how to graduate yet bombed each effort his family made to get him off drugs.
“I just thought it was garbage,” he says. “At that time, I would rather be dead than have to live without being high all the time.”
A year after graduating, Jim wedded his secondary school darling. The couple had twins, a boy and a girl. But as one might expect of a marriage where the man suffers from drug addiction, the wedded bliss didn’t last.
“I was in the grips of an addiction that was just massive,” he says. “As much as I wanted to stop for my family I could not stop. And, even then I would have died for them, I just couldn’t quit doing drugs.”
For the next quarter century he was either spending time in jail, in a recovery program or running from the law.
In 2004 he was arrested for credit card fraud and an extensive list of other unlawful offenses.
At 41 years of age, he was worn out, confronting his third strike, and facing 49 years to life in prison.
“That was the first time in my life I just didn’t want to live anymore. I said, ‘God, if you’re real, if you’re real like they say you’re real, help me.’
Then something remarkable happened. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully in response to his prayer.
“Instantly I had an encounter on that floor in the cell. My heart and my mind received hope. God gave me such peace, hope and understanding. I knew everything had changed.”
Rather than for drugs, Jim longed for God’s promise. He approached his corrections officers and asked for a Bible.
“I started praying and I started reading the Bible and it started to make sense and I understood the words and they would leap out and they came alive and they started to make sense to me. God challenged me. And he said, ‘Will you serve me if you have to go and do life in prison?’
“And I didn’t think it was fair that God would pose that question to me. And so I didn’t answer and I was mad for a couple of weeks. And then finally I just said, ‘God, listen, if I never have to feel like I felt on the floor that day. If you never ever let me feel like that again, I’ll serve you anywhere.’”
A year into serving his time, Jim received the surprising word that his sentence would be decreased from 49 years to 49 months.
“State’s attorney stands up and she says, ‘I don’t know why I’m doing this and he’ll never finish it, I’m going to send him to this program, this faith-based drug alcohol program in Sarasota. I’m going to send him to the Harvest House.’”
Jim finished the program and defeated his addictions. Today he’s back at Reap House as the program executive. He’s additionally attempting to find reconciliation with his grown-up twins. He’s also remarried and bringing up two little youngsters.
Ryan Zepeda studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.