[11.05.08] When John F. Wheeler tells young people, “No matter what you’ve been
through, God can bring you out,” he knows what he’s talking about.
The 24-year-old great-grandson of Bishop C.H. Mason, founder of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), said he rebelled as a teenager, doing drugs, joining a gang and even serving time in prison. But the Memphis, Tenn., native says he realized God loved him when, after his brother’s death in 2003, his two suicide attempts failed. “First, I took 53 prescription pills and nothing happened,” Wheeler says. “The next time I snorted an unimagineable amount of cocaine, popped more pills, and to be sure I would die I turned on the gas in my apartment and went to sleep. I was disappointed that I couldn’t die.”
It took two more years and a near-fatal stabbing in his lung to prompt him to call on Jesus.
“God, what are you trying to tell me?” Wheeler said he asked, according to the Commercial Appeal. “I was tired of playing life-and-death games. God had a message for me that He was good.”
But today he is an ordained COGIC minister and plans to attend Central Bible College in Springfield, Mo. He hopes to one day open a home for troubled, homeless youth. —Valerie G. Lowe