Former drug addict John Draxinger finds redemption in church rehab

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John Draxinger (right) went from rehab to helping run things at First Baptist Leesburg (Florida) Christian Care Center. Photo submitted (via Baptist Press)

LEESBURG, Fla. (BP) – “Would God put anyone on this earth to be nothing but a drug addict and die in that sin?” This was John Draxinger’s first question when he heard the gospel in a jail cell around July 4, 2013.

Draxinger had assumed that he would always be a drug addict, surely dying of the hepatitis C he had contracted during 10 years of heroin and opioid abuse who withstood six sobriety attempts and 15 stints in prison.

“When I got out (from prison) in November, I already had five months where I felt like God was trying to intervene in my life and do something in my life. I just knew that I didn’t couldn’t go to secular rehab,” Draxinger told The Baptist Press. “I’ve had a lot of attempts to try and get clean in my life.”Released in November 2013 from his last prison term, he literally begged to be accepted into a Christian drug treatment centre. He applied several times before the Men’s Care Center, a residential drug rehabilitation program established by First Baptist Church of Leesburg, could accept him.

He carries in his Bible a newspaper clipping reporting on a new Hepatitis C treatment that has since cured him of the disease. Just knowing that Hep C was not a death sentence gave Draxinger a desire to repent of his sin and find healing from his addiction nearly a decade ago.

“It was, I felt, one of the first answers to prayer in my life, and it was enough for me to commit and surrender to God,” Draxinger said, “ and to believe that he would do what he had to do to get me wherever he wanted to have me.

Today, Draxinger runs Samaritan Inn, the Christian Care Center’s (CCC) housing ministry for homeless men. From 2019 to March 2022, he also served as a teaching pastor at First Leesburg’s downtown campus college.

Draxinger’s testimony made him a good candidate to run Samaritan Inn, said CCC executive director Bill Jones.

“John had a very similar background to a lot of our residents,” Jones said. “And so he could really relate to them in a way that no one else could before.”

Draxinger is one of many men who have found sobriety and salvation through the Men’s Care Center, one of seven CCC ministries serving Leesburg and Lake County, senior pastor Cliff Lea said.

“I’m a sucker for powerful testimony,” Lea said on April 6, “and this morning there was a man who graduated who gave his testimony, and it was just amazing. alcoholism and drug addiction for decades, he finally came to the end of his rope and a family friend introduced him to the Christian Care Center.

Lea began serving at the church in 2007, about a year before First Leesburg expanded its CCC to include Samaritan Inn.

The saga of how First Leesburg founded Samaritan Inn – by buying an abandoned motel that attracted squatters and drug addicts – is the plot of the new film ‘No Vacancy’, which will be released nationwide on May 9.

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