How a local pastor turned his life around

Lt. James Sullivan shares his story. / Photo: Danielle Ledbetter

Lt. James Sullivan recalls meeting his wife for the first time. He says,"I just kept looking at her in a daze."

It was 1993. Both James Sullivan and, then, Rebecca Brown took the bus to work every day.

One day Sullivan decided to make a move.

"I was sitting in her seat because I got on the bus before her. When she got on the bus I was in her seat with one dozen of roses waiting on her."

Fast forward 24 years later, they are now corps officers for the Salvation Army.

It’s been a long road to this point. It wasn’t always smooth sailing.

Lt. James Sullivan remembers, “I was an addict." He was hooked on crack, cocaine and meth for five years. For him, alcohol and marijuana were gateway drugs.

Things got so bad he was homeless and eating out of trash cans. Eventually, he decided to go to the Salvation Army’s Adult Rehabilitation Center. Three months into the ten month program he says something odd happened.

“This illuminating light, it seemed like it just came from the ceiling tiles and it made its way slowly to me and it said, 'James what are you doing here? You know better. These are not the plans I have for you.'"

The next day he told the house man at the rehab center, "I said man I'm gone. He said where you going? I said, I'm done, I'm finished. I'm done with alcohol. I'm done with drugs. I'm done with it all. And when I left I never looked back"

It's been 13 years since then and he hasn't touched drugs or alcohol.

He shares how far he has come,"I went from living on the street, eating out of trashcans, being homeless, being a dope head, meth head, crack head to being a pastor for the Salvation Army."

He advises anyone going through something similar.

"You always have a little extra in you, whenever you feel like you're at the end. God has always put it in us where we can go just a little bit further."

While he was homeless he says his wife went to live with her parents.

He states,"I put my wife through it, but she always remained faithful. For any man,if you get a good woman hold on to her."

Now the pair can be caught 'doing the most good' at the Salvation Army in Albany.

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