Joe Krodel spent many years living in the dark, addicted to drugs and alcohol. Today he walks in the light as a man of God who has been delivered from his past. He now has a purpose in life to help others by sharing his story and giving glory to God for His healing power, saving grace, and never-ending love.

 

Joe was raised in a very strict Baptist home. He was not allowed to have long hair, wear flashy clothes, or listen to certain types of music. If his father caught him dancing he would get very angry and break the record to which he was listening. Joe grew up fearing God but never knowing the grace of God.

 

From Joe’s childhood he believed God to be a jealous, vengeful God and was confident he was headed to hell for the things he had done. Joe often wondered if God was even there in his times of need. Joe now knows the hardships he endured were a part of his journey leading him to his purpose in life. Through Christ he became stronger, he overcame, and he conquered low self-worth that attributed to his depression and addictions.

 

Because of Joe’s strict upbringing he was protected as a child; and when he entered the world on his own, he found himself vulnerable with much insecurity. He wasn’t prepared to wage battle against the evil of this world, and as a teenager exercising his own free will for the first time he entered the darkness leaving the age of purity behind. Joe recited a poem he wrote about his young life.

 

Young was I and of dream pure of heart was this being learning how to live living just to learn responsibilities no concern to go into the world to be insecure is to leave the age of being pure

 

Joe’s journey into the darkness with drugs and alcohol began in the 1970s. He joined the army in 1982 and before he knew it alcohol had control of him. Joe was stopped by the police for driving under the influence three times and in 1990 was sent to his first drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Huntingburg, Indiana.

 

At the time Joe was married with three children. While in the rehabilitation center he watched the movie, “Soft is the Heart of Children.” In the movie he saw an intoxicated husband/father being belligerent and argumentative towards his wife as their children hid in fear in the corner crying. Joe saw himself in this situation and he began to cry. This is when he truly realized he had a problem.

 

After Joe was released from the rehab center the family moved to Texas. He and his wife, whom he had met while drinking and drugging, eventually divorced. Joe was clean and sober for almost three years.

 

He married a second time—he met her in AA—and had a son. Joe worked the barges up and down the Ohio River which took him away from home for many days at a time. Conflict became frequent, and their marriage fell apart in 1996. Joe retreated back to the darkness where he began drinking and doing drugs again.

Joe attempted AA several times throughout his time in the darkness. He always chose Christ as his higher power but each time missed what God had for him because he was afraid of The Light. If he followed The Light he would have to change. He was afraid of something new.

 

Joe’s addictions became so severe that he was homeless two times over the years. Being a veteran he was admitted to The Domiciliary Care Program in Indianapolis where he stayed for approximately six months each time. There he was taught how to get back into the work force and how to live again even though he was experiencing suicidal ideation. Joe’s children and God kept him from following through with these thoughts and images in his mind.

 

Even with Joe’s inner turmoil he did hold a variety of physically-trying jobs over the years from G.I. Joe in the Army, Bob the Builder in construction, Tom Sawyer on the river, to Paul Bunyan in the woods as a logger. His back finally gave out and he underwent surgery. The VA gave him compensation for an injury he received while on active duty. They then hired him in 2012 as a CNA until he resigned in 2015 as his battle within was overtaking and destroying him.

 

In 2015 Joe’s darkness was closing in on him. The time had come to be admitted again but the Indianapolis facility was full. God provided the way for a change and for a healing to come. Joe was sent to the Marion VA where he spent a week in the psychiatric ward and then was admitted into an inpatient substance abuse program. There he met the clerk Alice for the first time. He initially felt intimidated by her and thought she was a mean one, but after talking with her he could see how much she loved God.

 

Alice had been raised in the church and by a mother who was a mighty prayer warrior. Throughout Alice’s life she witnessed her mother faithfully kneeling at her bedside weeping and praying for her husband and their children.

 

Alice’s parents were devoted to their seven children and their grandchildren, raising two grandchildren themselves in their later years. Her father’s goal was to provide the best he could for his family. As a child he had “done without,” and he did not want that for his children. The family, including her father, would attend Sunday school together, but he chose not to attend church. He would return afterwards to gather his family.

 

Alice’s mother continually asked the Lord, “When is my husband going to be saved? When, when, when?” The Lord answered her with a question that shocked her, “Will you stop praying for Paul?” But He then added, “In my time he will serve, not you but Me.” And that he did but it wasn’t until the children were raised and he was confident that he had provided for them to the best of his ability. Now with a free conscience he worshipped God in church and gave freely to the church. He went home to be with the Lord on Christmas morning, 2012, receiving the best Christmas gift of all, being with Jesus.

 

Alice’s mother, Juanita, has now lived with Alice off and on for several years as Alice assists with her healthcare needs. Alice cannot praise her mother enough! She is an awesome, awesome woman! Her influence has taught Alice how to pray and how to believe!

 

Alice has some special gifts of God herself. A preacher prophesied over her saying she had been blessed with the mother heart of God. Alice has been given a compassionate heart for God’s children and His animals, especially horses. God’s love shines through her to comfort those in need, and she has spent her life trying to do so. She has an overwhelming love for His children and His animals that can only be explained by God.

As a Christian there is a certainty that battles will come, and we must be prepared to stand firm in our faith to fight. Alice has been blessed in many areas of her life including having two sons, but she has also experienced the pain of three failed marriages. She found her financial situation to be in dire straits while going through a divorce. She went to God in prayer asking Him what she could do to get out from under this financial hardship. He directed her on what to do, and she followed Him boldly and her credit score began to rise.

 

"I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me” (Revelation 3:8 NLT).

 

Alice found herself standing at the foot of a driveway overlooking a beautiful farm, saying “Lord there is a plan for this.” He told her to walk the boundaries. As she did she began to cry, “Lord, there is no way I can afford any of this.” The Lord then spoke this word to her, “What door I open no man will shut.” Alice responded, “So be it. I’m leaving it in your hands. I’m not going to worry or manipulate. It is up to you.” Alice applied for a loan and against all odds was blessed with God’s farm, Serenity Acres, in May of 2007!

 

However the enemy unleashed his wrath and fury in an attempt to shut the door that God had opened. Alice’s mortgage was sold to another financial institution, and after months of manipulation from the enemy she received a foreclosure notice and later a Sheriff’s Sale notice. She refused to accept this and stood in faith against the attacks, remembering the word God had given her. Knowing that God was in control she again followed Him boldly. This time the head of the financial institution being manipulated by the enemy was contacted and provided with signed contracts and proof of payments. She was given a new contract with a lower interest rate and lower payments for her inconvenience. God opened one door and continued to open the necessary doors to see His plan fulfilled for Serenity Acres to become a place of refuge for His children.

 

During Alice’s twenty-seven years at the VA she spent eleven years in food services, six years in housekeeping for the psychiatric ward, and the remaining ten years as a clerk in the substance abuse program. While working in housekeeping she would clean mirrors praying for the veterans who would look into those mirrors to see what God saw in them. She would clean beds praying for the veterans to have a peaceful night’s sleep and that the enemy’s attack would be warded off of them. She would clean toilets praying that when the veterans sat on their throne God would show them the heavenly places He had for them. God always gave her new ways to pray while cleaning, and she just couldn’t help but love each veteran there.

 

Alice began a volunteer program and opened her home and farm, Serenity Acres, to veterans, foster children, and a home-schooled group. They were given the opportunity to groom and ride horses along with helping to do barn chores. Each one of God’s children were welcomed and loved by Alice.

 

In 2015 Alice received two new veteran volunteers, Joe and his friend Rob. Unknowingly, they had just entered God’s place of refuge and His perfect plan for hope, and a future was set into motion that Saturday. He brought Joe from a desperate place in Plainfield to the Marion VA just in time to meet Alice before she retired. Joe was unlike any other volunteer. Alice was amazed with his knowledge and abilities to care for the horses and the barn. He seemed to know her thoughts and could finish her sentences.

 

Joe completed his inpatient substance abuse program in December of 2015 and returned to Plainfield. He and Rob continued to volunteer at Serenity Acres once a month. Alice became very close with five of her veteran volunteers, Joe being one of them. She would text them encouraging passages and positive messages. Joe looked forward to his volunteer days as he would drink coffee with his new-found friends and discuss God together.

 

Joe began to feel like a part of him was missing when he was away from Alice and Serenity Acres. It didn’t matter where he went or what he did, the old Joe was always there. He stayed in that dark place because it was comfortable, because he knew how to handle the beat-downs from the drugs and alcohol.

 

Alice reflected on what she noticed over the years while working in the substance abuse unit. She believes so many veterans are trying to self-punish themselves for whatever they did that causes them to feel guilt and shame from the past and/or the present. They wish they were dead and want to escape but don’t want to take the actions to commit suicide, so they self-medicate and mask their problems with drugs and/or alcohol.

 

Joe agreed with her insight and believes his first step in recovery was forgiving himself. As Joe continued to spend time with Alice he began to see The Light because she glows with the love of God. He can see God manifested in her.

 

Joe learned to allow God to be in control as his pilot, not just his co-pilot. He comprehended that he did not pray to a vengeful God and accepted that unmerited favor had been placed upon him and his life. At that point Joe made the decision to come out of the darkness once and for all and to follow The Light forevermore.

 

God revealed to him that He had more for him than just existing and surviving which gave Joe the desire to live! He intends to live his life to the fullest. He doesn’t want to become complacent in life where he does not move forward because of fear of failure. He aims to live in God’s contentment where he is gracious and grateful for everything God has done for him and given him, including the hardships he has endured.

 

Joe refers back to Romans 5:1-5 (NLT) “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.”

 

Joe still has areas in his life that he needs to improve and change such as using foul language. He acquired the bad habit of cussing, especially if he would drop something. He would cuss, throw, and kick. He is tired of this behavior. Now if he drops something he says, “Thank you, Jesus.” By doing this he does not curse and he does not let the devil get the best of him. He is also still smoking cigarettes, but Alice requires him to do it outside no matter how cold it might be. Alice has a sign in the house that says, “If you are smoking in my house you better be on fire!” As he stands on the back porch in the dark he is consistently searching the sky for signs of God. Knowing that The Light cannot shine through without darkness he peers at the stars in amazement, realizing that his God has named each one. Through Christ Joe has conquered so many areas of his life, and it is through Christ that he realizes there are still areas yet to be changed. In God’s perfect timing these too will fall away.

 

During one of his volunteer days, the topic of marriage came up. Joe and Rob both hoped to marry again someday; but Alice had been married three times before, and she was very adamant when she said, “I’m not getting married again! But if I ever do, he better have a lot of money with one foot in the grave and the other one on a banana peel!” Joe and Rob looked at Alice in shock. They couldn’t believe she would say such a thing. However, that was Alice’s mentality at the time, and she made it quite clear that she had no intention of ever remarrying.

 

Over time Joe began calling Alice and occasionally talking about marriage. What Alice did not realize is that Joe was talking about marrying her. He finally had to be blunt with her and ask, “You do know that I am falling in love with you, don’t you?” She responded, “No, why would you want to do that?” Joe’s response, “I am following The Light.”

 

Joe and Alice began looking for a church to attend together. Alice suggested that they visit Center Chapel Church. She knew of the church through John and Joella Meeks. She had been friends with them for years, and they always liked to share about their church. God also had His hand in leading them to Center Chapel as Joe stopped to look at a lawn mower for sale and met Rod Boatwright for the first time. He invited Joe to church and told him about Celebrate Recovery. They came here to check it out almost two years ago, and they are so happy to say they are still attending. They feel so welcome here especially by Rod as he always has a smile and a hug for them. The Spirit has led Joe to step out in faith to witness to the congregation a couple of times astonishing himself as this is something he would never have done in the past. Alice added that Bud Lichkey was the first veteran who really got into her heart and Joe was the last, and they all are worshiping together at Center Chapel! Joe shared that once we step outside of self and see there is life out there, there is no stopping us with God!

 

Joe started attending Celebrate Recovery and was inspired when Pastor David Moore suggested using different colored highlighters in the Bible just as Joe did in his Big Book at AA. He highlights when something new is revealed to him and when his eyes and ears are ready to see and listen.

 

Joe also started attending the Proverbs 27:17 men’s group. Each week the men are given scripture to read as their topic of discussion. They read from multiple Bible versions. Joe has found in comparing different Bible versions his understanding of scripture has become so much more complete.

 

Joe has always had an attraction to fantasy books about evil versus good: wizards, dragons, knights, and kings. He now realizes this is not a fantasy but a reality, not of a physical nature but of a spiritual nature. Joe now chooses to read and study scripture and watches Joseph Prince and Joyce Meyer regularly on television. Reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer has also meant a great deal to him. Through these practices Joe has been able to grasp hold of God’s grace.

 

Joe recited a poem he wrote while in the midst of his addictions, feeling lost, alone, and on the outside looking in.

 

Looking back upon my life I see the child within searching the world and following a dream not knowing when is the end to know what was, to know what is, to hope of what will be keeping hold of my dream is the only means for me without my dream life would be sad with no direction to be found I always look unto the Lord for my dream is to be heaven bound

To go along with Joe’s poem Alice had a story to tell. She was in a hurry one day because she had an appointment for her car to be worked on. She never leaves her clothes on the floor but this day she did. When she was walking home, she could see her son and a young lady living with her crying and calling out, “Mom!” They were throwing their hands in the air asking God, “Where is she?” Alice yelled to them, “What are you guys doing?” They were so upset because they thought the rapture had happened when they found Alice’s clothes on the floor. They thought she had been taken and they had been left behind! Joe and Alice laugh together as she tells the story and Joe says, “I no longer think I will be left behind, and I know I am heaven bound!”

 

Through God’s transforming power this past December Joe has been drug- and alcohol-free for 1½ years! Joe now has acquired a thirst, beyond any desire he has known before, for God’s Word which has defeated and conquered his prior thirst for drugs and alcohol. Our God is a conqueror and a deliverer as Joe has received and experienced God’s love, mercy, and grace that have led him to the transformation of his story and his life.

 

Congratulations to Joe and Alice as they were married on December 29, 2017, here at Center Chapel Church! They honored Alice’s mother, Juanita Miller, by marrying on her 86th birthday. Mother Miller had been praying for years for a Godly man to come into Alice’s life to help her with the farm. Neither Joe nor Alice knew of these prayers until they announced to Mother Miller they were getting married. She then informed them that God had answered her prayers!

 

Joe and Alice now follow The Light together praying every night and thanking God for sending angels to protect their borders and putting a hedge around them. Joe can see angels on all four corners with a dome of protection over them. Joe was able to capture a beautiful rainbow over their property in a photo reminding him that the angels are there and no evil can enter from the air, from the ground, from below, or from the four corners. God has them as long as they have faith and do His bidding! It is all about God! The enemy cannot curse what God has blessed!

 

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 ESV).

 

—Leanne Jacob

FOLLOWING THE LIGHT

WITH JOE AND ALICE KRODEL