“As a boy, my father would beat me for no reason. You have no idea how much pain this caused me. I began to hate him and I remember telling him that one day I would kill him. I meant it. One day, when I was much older, he tried to beat me and I punched him in the face. I was just so angry and I’d had enough of his beatings.
Every teenage boy makes friends, but mine were different. They had nothing good to offer me. Because of them, I started smoking cannabis, but when it felt like that wasn’t enough, I moved onto something much stronger. The moment that I indulged in crack cocaine was when I knew I had reached the beginning of the end. I really began to lose all self-control. It was all I wanted and I became so dependent on it that I couldn’t think straight or function without it.
My family never judged or criticised me, despite the sadness I could clearly see in their eyes. I didn’t think they realised what was happening to me. They would simply keep quiet in front of me, but things were only getting worse. The more time that passed by, the deeper my addiction became.
My brothers put padlocks on their doors because I would steal their valuables and resell them for more drugs. I had already done the same with my possessions.
I used to smoke right in front of my mum; that was the only thing she knew for certain about me, that I was her son, the crack cocaine addict.
There had never been a time when I didn’t dream of living abroad, so when I was given a job opportunity in Portugal, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe I was finally going to be leaving Brazil to work. It could have been the start of a new life and I did try, but I couldn’t overcome such a strong addiction overnight.
I knew that I would be working in a stable with horses, but I had no idea that I would be working for the rich and famous! I fell more and more in love with my job. I made new friends and was rubbing shoulders with various personalities. Amidst the excitement of my new role, I began to explore the nightlife and that’s when my addiction caught up with me.
I was drinking heavily, smoking and taking drugs with friends. The feeling was impeccable; I felt like I was on top of the world. But that feeling didn’t last very long, and my life came crashing down as quickly as it had soared upwards. I couldn’t understand. Why did I have to do this again? I had a great job—I was working for the best horse rider in Portugal, but I couldn’t help myself. I was very unhappy; how could I be happy when I had no control over myself?
After one horse riding show, a rider approached me and invited me to come to England to work for her. It was another great opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I moved here in 2005, and once again I thought my life would finally change.
I realise now that my friends were my downfall. Because of friends, I’d fallen so easily back into the only lifestyle I knew. I lost so much weight and dropped down to 57 kilos; I was just skin and bones. I became depressed and was getting crazier by the minute.
During one of my many sleepless nights, as I watched TV, I came across a channel where a man was speaking about his life. Strangely, it was as if he had been living the life I was suffering with, but he had something on me—he had managed to become someone I could not: drug-free, and he had achieved that at the UCKG HelpCentre. My first thought was that if he could do it, then so could I.
I drove 60 miles—for an hour and a half—to get to the HelpCentre and the first person I met was a spiritual adviser. I will never forget him. I felt useless but the words, “We can help you, Jeff,” were like a bright light breaking through the darkness. I had no hope, especially after my own mother had told me that there was nothing she could do for me. I couldn’t understand why God would want to do anything new in my life. I had no idea what to believe, but this man believed in me. Because of him, I left the HelpCentre that day higher than I’d ever felt in my life. He lifted me up so much that I was so sure of what I wanted, and it was what this HelpCentre had to offer. He gave me all the guidance I needed and I followed it with all of my heart.
The first thing he told me to do was to attend every Friday because I needed to go through the process of deliverance. Then Fridays, Wednesdays and Sundays became the most important days of my life. Sometimes I wouldn’t buy food just to put petrol in my car, but it was my choice. I desperately needed help and I was going to do whatever I could to get it.
Every meeting was a stepping stone, and when the time came for the Campaign of Israel, I jumped at it. I refused to let any opportunity pass me by. I realised that the source of my problem was within me, so I campaigned to become a completely new man.
I was engaging in ‘purposes of faith’, prayers and doing whatever it took. I slowly gained strength to end my addiction and posses what God had in store for me. My angry character gradually subsided, leaving room for a different Jefferson to blossom. I left behind all of my friends who were taking drugs, because we had nothing in common anymore. I hadn’t spoken to my mother since I’d left Portugal, and when I called her, she couldn’t believe it was me. The difference in my voice was enough to startle her and she thought I was someone else. Who could blame her? All she’d known me for was my addiction.
My change didn’t happen in an instant, but it happened. I was filled with a new spirit. Before, I had been broken and weak. Now, I felt like I could conquer anything, including my stay in the country.
I was illegal and though my lawyer told me I had 0% chance of winning, I was so determined that he thought I was crazy. He didn’t believe in me but it didn’t matter, because for once in my life, I believed in myself, and when the Campaign was announced again, I participated to receive my stay. When I went to court, the judge said that my case wasn’t strong, but he said that he’d come back to us with an answer in a few weeks. I didn’t allow this to faze me. I knew what I’d done on the altar, but my lawyer couldn’t understand how I could be so positive. A while later, he called me and by the way that he was shouting, I thought he was going to come out of the phone.
“Jeff! You’re so lucky! You won the case. I don’t know how, but you won!” There was nothing to it; I knew that God would come through for me, and He did.
Today I am a completely different man. I have peace and joy and I’ve rebuilt my relationship with my family. I will be getting married to my beautiful fiancée whom I met in the Love Therapy meetings that take place every Saturday at the Rainbow Theatre, and not only do I love her, but I love myself! Someone believed in me and gave me a chance. They saw that I could change. Now I believe in others. If I could change, anyone can!”