As a young adult growing up in North Macedonia, Braden saw Christianity as a set of rules listing activities that were off-limits. He was a musician who enjoyed partying, and his whole world seemed to clash with religion.
“My goal was to find the things that deliver the most satisfaction, so I dove into alcohol, pills. Then, I found the opportunity to try heroin, and I gladly took it. In the beginning, the satisfaction from heroin was good; I liked it. But as time passed on, that satisfaction was diminishing,” Braden tells. However, if he didn’t use the heroin, he would have aches and pains throughout his body.
Heroin became his life, and Braden soon realized he had become a slave to the drug. The life he thought was pure freedom began to close in on him.
“One night, a friend told me that Jesus could free me from those chains, if I make a step in faith. I accepted the challenge. I threw away the heroin that was for the next morning, and I was waiting to see what would happen. When I woke up the following morning, I had a feeling that my whole past life of drugs was just like a bad dream. I didn’t have any need for drugs,” Braden recalls. “That night I went to church, and I gave my life to Jesus!”
Complete freedom from heroin would take an entire decade though. Braden asked God to end his life. He was exhausted from battling the addiction all those years. Finally, he cried out to God for help. “Then something happened in me. Slowly I stopped using,” he shares.
Braden moved, got married and had kids. Life was still filled with many problems – unemployment, serious medical issues. “There were days when we literally didn’t have a single coin,” Braden says. “But God never left us hungry. Each problem was solved with prayer.” He has trouble describing the feeling of God’s presence, but Braden likens it to a loving hug that radiates through his entire body.