|Sat, Mar 08, 2014 08:44 AM
January 29, 2014 | 09:23 AM
The only life Jason Walton knew growing up in Pekin was that of drugs and alcohol. When he was a child, he thought his father was the most popular person around because, as a drug dealer, there was always people in and out of their home. Walton wanted to be just like his father.
So, at the age of 15, he started using drugs and abusing alcohol. He dropped out of high school just before turning 16 to start working with a simple motivation.
Jason Walton (click for larger version)
"I wanted to work so I could get my own drugs, my own alcohol," he said. "By the time I was 17, I was a full-blown alcoholic. I would drink it as often as I could get it."
Between that time and turning 28, Walton said he had been charged with seven public intoxications and three DUIs and found himself in the Washington County Detention Center.
In jail, someone told him that, if he went to church, there he'd be able to enjoy cookies and coffee. That was enough for him, so he began going to the regular services led by Bob Campbell.
"We hit it off pretty quickly," Walton said of Campbell.
Walton said he was hearing a message of hope, starting over and having a new life, all foreign topics to him since he'd never heard anything like that before.
"All of these things I've never heard of and they were appealing," he said. "I had burned every bridge I had, hit rock bottom and was absolutely miserable."
Eventually during a service with Campbell, Walton said he accepted Jesus Christ into his life.
"Before I knew it, I was standing up, accepting Christ," he said. "My life changed dramatically right then."
But, Walton said, he knew difficulties would be waiting for him when he was released and returned to his parents' home. He knew he wouldn't stay clean there, so he called Campbell.
"He told me, 'If you're really serious, pack your things and I'll be there in the morning'," Walton said.
Campbell took Walton to Freed From Within in Corydon, where he said he met all kinds of great, Godly people who showed him what it meant to be a responsible Christian. He met his wife, Myra, at Freed From Within when she came to speak to the residents.
"Three weeks later, we were engaged and, three months and one week later, we were married," he said.
Walton had his first experience with ministry working as the property manager at Freed From Within as he often spoke with and guided the residents.
The couple eventually moved to Georgetown and Walton had a good job at a factory in Charlestown. It was the first time he had a decent job, and he became somewhat addicted to it and the material life it provided. He started to fall away from his faith, although still attending church at The Lighthouse United Methodist Church in Elizabeth.
"Although I had everything, I started to become miserable, indifferent," he said. "That's when the Lord starting speaking to me. He reminded me he had a call and purpose for me. He wanted me to bring hope to those that are in similar situations that I was in. Instead of working 70 hours at the factory, he wanted me to work for him."
Walton started as a pastor in the Methodist faith at small church in Utica before moving to Crawford County. Walton eventually stepped out of the Methodist faith and made his way to the non-denominational Old Union Community Church near Elizabeth, where he started preaching in October.
"There's a lot of excitement right now," he said. "The people have been really, really gracious to me."
He said the congregation of about 35 is willing to be led in a new direction. He plans to bring back Vacation Bible School, a praise team and a youth ministry to the church. The Waltons are in the process of moving from Georgetown to the parish home next to the church.
Walton spends his days working for a light construction company in Louisville that installs cable for Time Warner.
Church service hours are 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays and a Wednesday Bible study at 7 p.m.
For more information about the church, call Walton at 1-502-643-2168.