North Carolina pastor uses his history of addiction to help others

North Carolina pastor uses his history of addiction to help others

by
Daniel Sperry for Nazarene News
| 21 Jan 2022
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DeLong Family
Caption

Kyle DeLong (pictured right), his wife Wendy, and two of their three children.

Pastor Kyle DeLong, who had battled drugs and alcohol addictions most of his past life, became sober in a North Carolina prison in 2006. Now, 15 years later, DeLong is using his freedom from past addictions to reach others who face similar struggles.

DeLong grew up in a pastor’s home and remembers beginning to rebel at an early age after losing friends due to the family’s frequent moves. 

At age 12, DeLong recalls finding a cigarette on the ground and sneaking off into the woods, wanting to smoke it. 

“Right before I lit that cigarette, I heard a voice tell me, ‘If you do that, there is no coming back,’” DeLong said. “I remember answering out loud, ‘I don’t care.’ I lit that cigarette.”

The cigarettes turned into marijuana, then beer, and finally psychedelic drugs by the time he was 16. On the outside, he was a straight-A student who went to youth group and lettered in three different sports. 

That changed during his freshman year at Olivet Nazarene University, when he was no longer able to hide his addictions. He was kicked out after one semester.

“The drinking, smelling like weed when I came into the dorm; they had enough of me,” DeLong said. “I nearly killed someone in a car accident, and they told me I’ve got to go.”

A few months after returning to his family in North Carolina, DeLong got another DUI. This time, he hit another car head-on and was sent to prison. 

He resumed his addictions after his release, picking up cocaine and methamphetamines too. In between failed attempts at addiction recovery, he attended a revival service and felt a call to ministry. He tried to attend Nazarene Bible College and Trevecca Nazarene University, but his addictions got the best of him again. 

DeLong worked construction jobs in between prison stints and was charged with more felonies after writing himself false paychecks to fuel his addictions. His situation escalated further after he struck a federal officer and ended up in prison yet again, this time in one of the most dangerous cell blocks. At 37 years old, DeLong found himself questioning how he ended up in that situation.

“With how God had orchestrated my family in my life, how did I get to this place when there was so much going for me?” DeLong asked himself. “So, I prayed. I told the Lord, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I’ve ruined my life. You have shown me that if I’m in control, I will always lose.

“’God, I give you my life if you can do anything less because I don’t have anything. There’s nothing in my life that I can offer you. All I have left is me.’ And God told me, ‘That’s all I’ve ever wanted.’”

From that moment forward, DeLong has maintained his sobriety, now for 15 years.

During the sentencing trial for his final felony charge, the judge noticed DeLong was holding a pamphlet for a rehabilitation center and asked if DeLong wanted to go there. DeLong asked the judge to mandate his attendance, so the judge arranged for DeLong to finish his sentence at the rehab center.

Upon re-entry to society, DeLong took classes through the Carolina District, which had an extension program through Nazarene Bible College. He received his district license and began pastoring at Hickory Church of the Nazarene. He immediately got his church involved in recovery ministry, helping to start the Capstone Recovery Center for Women.

DeLong has also begun teaching society re-entry courses for prisoners from three different penitentiaries whose sentences are coming to an end. He teaches them for two months of each quarter, helping prisoners establish bank accounts, make amends with family, and even maintain sobriety.

Ever since he decided to surrender his life back to God in that prison cell, DeLong has recognized how God has orchestrated everything in his life.

“When I first started giving my testimony, it was always about the bad stuff and seeing how far God has brought me from,” DeLong said. “But now, it’s like, I look at what God is doing and the doors He is opening up. There are families with addicts, families with incarcerated members, or people with dads who died of an overdose. Everywhere we go, we’re just running into families we can reach.”

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