Sometimes a heart needs encouraging, resolve needs strengthening or a mind needs training. Many students say that it is at those moments—when the need is greatest—that God brings CBI into their lives. Shannon’s story is no different.
By age twenty-five, Shannon was on the fast track to success. After graduating from the University of Virginia, he had taken an entry-level sales job at one of the largest companies in the United States. A little over a year later, thanks to a strong work ethic and dynamic people skills, he had been promoted to branch manager.
Shannon’s meteoric rise was only beginning. Soon he was a city manager, then an assistant vice president, then a regional vice president. In addition, Shannon had a beautiful wife and family, a company car, plenty of money and colleagues who admired him.
Still, his life seemed incomplete. “I started to work out of fear of losing everything,” he remembers. He began to wonder who his true friends were and whether they loved him only because of his status.
Then, after Shannon’s region performed well below expectations one year, he fell into deep depression. Miserable and looking for company, he started spending more time with a college fraternity brother who was dealing with divorce. “To my detriment,” says Shannon, “he introduced me to his means of self-medication—cocaine.”
For a while, Shannon’s new habit seemed to solve everything. He was more relaxed at work, and his employees responded positively to the change. His region began performing well again, and he silently credited the improvements to cocaine.
At first he limited his drug usage to after work, but soon he was using every three hours. “I had graduated to a functioning cocaine addict, and I thought no one knew,” Shannon remembers.
But Shannon’s wife noticed that he had lost weight and that his appetite and energy were declining. She feared that he was having an affair and confronted him. When Shannon confessed his cocaine addiction to her, she was shocked, but she stood by him.
Shannon’s wife convinced him to go to weekly counseling and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and she gave him random drug tests. When those measures failed, she summoned his family for an intervention. “By then,” Shannon says, “I realized that I was an addict and did not know how to stop.”
Shannon considered leaving his job to spend more time with his family, but his company eventually convinced him to accept another promotion instead. With his wife away visiting her sick mother, Shannon found himself surrounded by temptation. After a brief hiatus from cocaine, he resumed his habit once more.
When his wife found out, she filed for divorce. Devastated, Shannon started spiraling out of control. In spite of a variety of rehabilitation programs, he refused to accept the necessary steps for healing. “At every facility, I exuded the bravado of a successful corporate executive who just needed time to detox,” he remembers. After each stay, he would relapse, sometimes within twenty-four hours.
Eventually, even though he was a corporate vice president, Shannon could no longer claim to be a functioning addict. He was renting out his company car for cocaine, and he used his company credit card to purchase $9,000 worth of drugs. He started taking sick days to recover from his weekend binges, and eventually he started stealing from Walmart to fund his habit.
It was only a matter of time before he was arrested, and then arrested again. Knowing that this second arrest would lead to an extended prison sentence, Shannon was at an all-time low. He decided that ending his life would be best for everyone.
Bed sheet in hand, scanning his cell for a way to hang himself, Shannon encountered the God he had ignored his whole life. “A voice kept telling me, ‘Two years . . . two years. This will take two years, but I will be with you.’” Suddenly, he felt joyful and calm.
From that point on, Shannon’s life began to change for the better—for the first time in years. He was placed in a unit with older prisoners who held nightly Bible studies. He began reading the Bible and singing in worship services.
Then, one night at chapel, he found an enrollment form for CBI’s discipleship program and became a student. “As I started the curriculum, my knowledge and understanding of the Word grew significantly,” he says. “Bible verses and concepts that were vague became easy to comprehend and explain.”
As Shannon’s knowledge grew, his heart began to change. He now talks of climbing not the corporate ladder, but a spiritual one. And he’s living a different kind of high life, one full of promise and joy.