Magazine

The Chains are Gone

During the Fellowship of the Silver Star dinner held during Commissioning Weekend, Cadet Jamie Suhoney recalled the words his mother repeatedly said to him when he struggled with drugs and alcohol.

Jamie Suhoney hugs his mother at the Silver Star Dinner.

Jamie Suhoney hugs his mother at the Silver Star Dinner.

“When I was sure I could not go on, you continued to tell me, ‘God has big plans for you. Why else would Satan attack you so much?’” Suhoney told her. Melinda Fleck wiped back tears as her son gazed into her eyes and sweetly praised her for believing in him through the worst of times.

All around the room, cadets were using the dinner as an opportunity to express their deep appreciation and love for parents, mentors, and significant others who supported them on their journey to officership.

For Suhoney, it was a long road to Commissioning Weekend.

“At an early age, I struggled with anger, which led me to use drugs and alcohol,” he recalls. “I just completely ran away from God and anything He wanted to do with me. I even tried to commit suicide.”

Suhoney told his mother, “You stood by my side and guided me lovingly. When I got off track, you kept praying for me.”

Suhoney said his life changed when he attended a tent revival in New Castle, Pa.

“The pastor kept talking about someone being broken from the chains that held them,” Suhoney says.

A man behind him put a hand on his shoulder and said, “He’s talking to you.” Suhoney didn’t know the man, but feeling convicted, Suhoney walked to the front of the tent.

Suhoney salutes at Commissioning.

Suhoney salutes at Commissioning.

“I can’t tell you if I ever made it to the front, but I knew God had broken the chains that had bound me to alcohol and drugs,” he says. “My last drink was in 1998.

“I literally felt like the thirst for alcohol and drugs was completely gone. Since that tent revival day, I’ve never really had another struggle with them.”

At the Silver Star dinner, Suhoney told his mother that when he accepted God’s plan for his life, “no one praised God more than you.”

“This [weekend] is happening for me because of you and all you have done to help keep me on God’s path,” he says. “I am blessed to have a friend and a mother like you.”

After the dinner, Fleck said, “I had no doubt [that my Prodigal Son would come home]. I know my Lord. He’s faithful. If my heart gets any bigger, it’s going to burst.

“I think Jamie’s a real testament to just what Jesus Christ can do.”

For more ‘Messengers of Light’ from September’s issue:

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