St Claire Sterling – from drug addict to teen motivator
Today, St Claire Sterling, who resides in the United States, is one of the men's programme director at Delmarva Teen Challenge in Seaford, Delaware - a programme he got involved in while living in Jamaica.
Teen Challenge was founded in 1997 by Pastor John Steigerwald and his family when he moved to the island to start the ministry which is located in Ocho Rios.
Sterling found the perfect outlet to share his testimony and also encourage other persons from being caught in the net he fought so hard to escape.
Born and raised in west Kingston, Sterling's upbringing was a very rough one.
"My mom and dad constantly argued, which later on resulted in both of them going their separate ways. My father left and my mother had to raise me by herself. She did her best. She cared for me as best as she knew how. I was never hungry, and clothing wasn't a problem," he reminisced.
His mother moved from west Kingston as life wasn't working out very well for them.
With crime and violence on the increase, Sterling said his mother never wanted him around that kind of environment, so she moved back to St Thomas. Ironically, her 'safe zone', was the place he ended up getting hooked on crack cocaine.
"I met crack cocaine one evening going to play soccer. Before I met crack cocaine, I was already exposed to heavy marijuana usage," he said.
At 19 years old, he was an addict. Sterling said drug usage devastated his life, causing him to lose everything.
While he could not walk away from the habit in his own strength, the birth of his first child - a son - gave him the courage to look into his life and he did not like what he was seeing.
"His birth knocked some consciousness into my world. I began to think about the impact my addiction would have on his life and I hated it. I hated it because of what I saw growing up with my dad, even though he was not on crack."
Sterling said he finally found the courage to admit to his mother that he had a drug problem.
There was no condemnation from her, just love, as she turned to some of her fellow members from the Church of God of Prophecy, who prayed for him.
"I knew something was different about that kind of intercession. Something clicked on the inside; it was unexplainable! But I knew something was wonderfully different. Out of this, coupled with the birth of my son, I went to the University Detox in Mona," he said. After completing his programme there, a nurse told him about Teen Challenge.
BORN AGAIN EXPERIENCE
"I said to her, Nurse Panton, please call and tell them that there is a new student to be enrolled on June 4, 2004. That same day I had the Holy Spirit born again experience after Anthony Richards led me into the Sinner's Prayer, and I have been saved ever since," Sterling shared.
Having embraced Christ as his Lord and Saviour, he had another hurdle to overcome and that was giving up his son's mother.
"I knew I had to walk away from it all and trust God's wisdom and will for my life, but it was extremely hard. It was hard because I wanted my son to have both parents in his life, but God had bigger and better plans. Today, my son and I have an amazing father-son relationship. I love my boy," he shared.
After graduating from Teen Challenge Jamaica, he served in Trinidad and Tobago as part of the Challenge team. When he returned home, he received a full scholarship to the Assemblies of God Bible College. Completing his three-year study, he served with Teen Challenge Jamaica.
Sterling is now reaching out to other addicts making the appeal for them to stop.
"To all users out there, there is hope and a brilliant future in Christ Jesus that awaits you. He loves you! But you must respond to His love in order for Him to do the miraculous in your life," is the plea from Sterling.
Currently, Sterling has one dream and that is to see the salvation of his close family members.