LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It all started with paper acid, and then marijuana laced with cocaine and then crack cocaine before New Zion Baptist Church Pastor Clifford Olford finally came crashing back down from his high to his hometown of Trenton, New Jersey.
That's when a sign from above lead the addicted man to church, and there, he found his wife, Stephanie, and a dream that lead him to his calling as a man of God.
"It took over everything that was me. I stole from my family. I stole from my son. I would buy him Christmas presents and on Christmas morning, they would be gone," Olford said.
The former army man says he had never even smoked a cigarette until he joined the military.
"People say 'well, how can you use drugs in the army?' Well, the enemy has a way, and when you allow yourselves to be followers instead of leaders things like that happen. The military is actually when my drug addiction began; from that point on, life went downhill," Olford said.
He said he and his friends began to take paper acid, and then that addiction turned to crack cocaine.
"We didn't like coming down off the paper acid so we started taking the cocaine, which where I was located at the time, was called pure cocaine. We started taking cocaine and then we started taking crack in this crack form, which tried to balance the acid that we took," Olford said. "When you're doing crack for any length of time, it takes a toll on you that you don't even expect."
Olford said things turned from bad to worse when he lost custody of his son, and then, he began to use drugs multiple times a day.
"I didn't like to hear the birds chirp because I know if I heard the birds chirp, I know I made another mistake. I spent all my money or I made have stolen from someone that didn't deserve it so the drugs too me just that far," Olford said.
Far enough for him to ignore the fact that he was an addict. He says one day while walking down a street called "The Boulevard," a group of men tried to jump him but because of his background in martial arts, the men only got away with throwing a brick at his head.
"Here's the insanity part of the addiction. The insanity part is after I went to the hospital and got the stitches, after I had my head bandaged up, I got high again," Olford said.
He did so much cocaine that he had two coke induced seizures.
"I had thousands of dollars in the bank and within 60 days of what I had in the bank was now what we like to say up in smoke because I used it all. I smoked it all in crack. I drunk and drank and all of that in a 60-day progress," Olford said.
But little did he know, his future wife Stephanie was also fighting her own demons. Stephanie said she liked to call herself a "social get higher," a person who smoke marijuana on occasion. But that marijuana turned into marijuana laced with cocaine, and then an addiction to crack cocaine.
"When I first tried it, I got addicted to it because I could still work…and I would still dress nice…not knowing that gradually it was pulling me in because the more I worked, and the more I got paid was the more I went out there buying it," Stephanie Olford said.
She says her downfall is when her best friend caught her buying drugs on a street corner.
"When I looked at her, tears rolled down my eyes. I couldn't lie to her anymore. And she looked at me and she says are you? And I said yes. I didn't know how to tell you," Stephanie Olford said.
That's when she began to pray and at 26 years old, Stephanie met Clifford and together they started their lives anew with God.
"God has cleansed me. God has delivered me from being a drug addict and life has been better since," Clifford Olford said.
The couple has only been in Lufkin for a year, but are trying to help others through the HOPE Center and their church.
"We have a heart to go outside the walls of the church and blessing the people and to let other know that God can do this for me and I know he can do it for you," Clifford Olford said. "We have a saying [that] no matter how dead the situation may seem or how bad it may look, God will and can breathe into the breath of life."
"God can bring you out," he said."