schools for troubled boys in Arkansas

 By Steve Williams

If you were to meet Drew Morrison today, you would be impressed with him as a great dad to his four children and a devoted husband to his wife, Sarah. You would see his passion for the Lord. You would hear stories of praying for the sick and street evangelism. Then, you would hear his excitement about his work for various ministries, like The Chosen. “I cooked meth with my dad when I was a kid” is the last thing you would expect to hear him say, but if you ask him to tell his story, that’s exactly where Drew would start. 

“I grew up in a small town outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I came from a broken home. My dad was an addict. My mom mainly took care of me, but since she was at work and in school, I had a lot of unsupervised free time. My brother and I took advantage of our free time, and we hung out with the wrong crowd, which introduced us to drugs at a young age. We started with marijuana and soon progressed to pills (narcotics). As we got older, the rebellion and drugs got stronger. I stumbled onto meth, and that’s when things got really bad. By 16, I dropped out of school and ran away to live alone. I did a lot of couch surfing in those days.”

Around 14, Drew started going to his dad’s house to party. There, Drew was allowed to drink alcohol and smoke weed and cigarettes with his dad. Drew remembers his dad saying, “If you’re going to be a real man, let’s smoke a joint together.” Dad would help Drew lie to his mom so that Drew could sell drugs for him. Dad would get high on crack with his girlfriend regularly around Drew. But Dad started getting nervous when Drew began using meth and then cooking meth. Dad moved to Houston to get himself clean. Four weeks later, he had Drew put on a bus to come to Houston to get him sober, too.

However, instead of getting sober, Drew caused Dad to relapse and got Dad into meth as well. That’s when they started cooking meth together. By this time, Dad was struggling with paranoia. His girlfriend was a Wiccan, and she would pray in Latin to the devil. Drew remembers some very demonic things happening in those days. Drew says the details are inappropriate for this article, but it left a mark on him concerning how real spiritual things are. At one point, when Dad’s girlfriend was manifesting a demon, Drew’s dad broke out a Bible and introduced Drew to the book of Psalms. Father and son read and prayed Psalms together until the demon subsided. Drew’s dad gave his life to the Lord when Drew was eight years old, and a pastor gave that Bible to him. It comforts Drew to know that even though his dad was an addict until the day he died, he held onto that Bible all these years.

After two nights in a row with severe demonic manifestations, Drew’s dad made him get rid of the meth lab. Drew ran away, still in Houston, wandering the streets. He called his mom, and she learned enough about what was going on to call the police and get Drew and his dad arrested so Drew could get help.

schools for troubled boys in Arkansas“Six police cars pulled us over. I had 18 holes in my arm from shooting up, and it was all bruised, so they took me to the hospital. Two police officers sat with me in the hospital room, and later, I was taken to juvenile detention, where I began to detox. I was nearly 17 when my mom found Teen Challenge. I was honestly excited. I knew I needed a change, and rehab would be more fun than juvie. But I wanted to get high one more time before going, so when we got back to Oklahoma, I called up an addict friend, and we cooked some meth, and I showed up at TCAR high the next day. Brother Russell was among the first people I met; he knew I was high. We went camping right after I got there, and I realized this wasn’t what I was expecting, and I wanted out.” 

Drew found himself camping in the beautiful Ozarks by the Buffalo River, but he was still detoxing and struggling with paranoia, so instead of enjoying the great outdoors, he spent his time looking for cigarette butts on the bank of the river – it’s the only way an addict knows how to feel better. They must learn how to soothe their anxiety and other hard emotions without drugs. Justin and Russell were his intake leaders, and they could see how much Drew struggled. Drew says he remembers asking them if they had a nicotine patch he could use, and Justin said, “No, but we can pray for you.” Drew laughs now as he recalls how shocked and confused he was at that response. He thought, “Pray for me? Are you stupid? I need drugs.” Drew also remembers Justin asking him what he does for fun, and Drew said, “Fun? What do you mean? I cook meth!” The drug becomes the focus of life and robs kids of their childhood. One thing Drew learned at TCAR is how to have fun in healthy ways.

The staff was firm but patient, and Drew says his talk with Russell that first night at the river is a special memory for him. When Drew got back to TCAR and started the schedule, he fought it. He tried to get kicked out. “I tried to push the staff to their limit. I broke into the medicine cabinet, tried to find mushrooms in the horse pasture, and tried running away. I even made a game of how much discipline I could rack up. And even though I was scared of spiritual stuff because of the demonic things I saw before, I prayed to the devil to get me out of there.”

I remember the day we had a staff meeting, and we nearly decided Drew couldn’t stay. After weeks of his constant disruptive behavior, he had worn down the staff, and it didn’t seem like we could keep this up with him. Our director at the time said he felt like the Lord wanted us to give Drew one more week. I remember being cautiously optimistic.

Drew began to have encounters with God. One staff member, Seth Drewry, prayed for him, and his night terrors stopped. He saw two demons at one point, and he says they made him choose between them and God, and Drew says he had this deep internal cry that said, “God! I choose God!” After that, the demons went away. Eventually, we took a group of guys to a youth conference called Ramp. Drew says that at Ramp, he opened up to God. “Steve took us to Ramp, and I felt the presence of God for the first time. When I realized how good God is, I thought, why has no one told me this!? I kept saying, ‘God, you’re so good!’ Why did the church make Christianity look boring or fake? God is so real and so good!”

After Ramp, Drew started being disciplined in his new faith. “I kept hearing people say God told me this or led me to do that. I was like, why doesn’t God speak to me? One staff, Mark Welbourn, told me to read a chapter of the Bible every night, and when I got to Matthew 7, where Jesus said to the wicked servant, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you,’ I said to God, ‘God, you need to know me. My name is Drew. My favorite color is orange. I’ve screwed up my life…’ At one church the Ranch took us to, they said God is a counselor, and I realized he’s listening to me like a counselor, so I started recapping my day with him every day. It was sort of like a confession.”

A short while after Drew gave his life to Jesus, I had the privilege of baptizing him in Neal Reed’s pool. He says a lot of things changed then. His desires started changing. He lost interest in porn, for example, and instead of picking on people in the dorm, he became interested in how he could help a kid in trouble or help the staff. He realized it felt good to serve. Drew wrestled with God about giving up his girlfriend, but when he finally surrendered that relationship to God, he said things got good with the Lord. 

“We went to Ramp again a few months later, and it was a powerful experience. I got baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues. After that, a lot of breakthroughs came. I started taking communion every day in my room. I went from getting alternate meals and sneaking candy to sneaking crackers and juice to my room so I could take communion! I think having secret communion in my room symbolized owning my faith apart from staff or other students. Even after TC, I kept communion elements in my car for years. It’s a very special time between me and the Lord.” 

Drew relapsed on every pass at TCAR. On his 10-day pass, Drew started well until one of his dad’s atheist friends argued with him and caused Drew to question all the experiences he’d had with God. “I questioned it all. I ran from Jesus and ran to alcohol. I drank so much until my face was numb. Alcohol was my first drink in the mornings. Then, one night, I got a dream from the Lord that I was being crucified. That scared me but also let me know Jesus would not give up on me. I had got a job on that pass bussing tables so I could buy more beer. This lady at the restaurant followed me around, telling me about Jesus. I couldn’t get away from Him! I got back to the Ranch, and Steve was preaching about how a righteous man falls but gets back up, and I knew I had to get back up. It was VERY hard. I was mad at Steve for making it sound so easy, but I was determined. I knew that if I failed again, it’d be too hard, so I decided no secular music, no alcohol, no nothing. That’s when I went completely sober. I also decided not to go back home.”

Drew finished TC four weeks later and enrolled in Youth With A Mission in Ozark, Arkansas. There, Drew’s spark grew into a wildfire. His hunger for God was insatiable. Drew became a man led by the Spirit, fasting, praying, and using his developing gifts to bring people to Jesus. Drew met his wife, Sarah, at YWAM. Sarah has her own crazy story, and Drew mused about the goodness of God, who can take two people from different kinds of crazy lifestyles, and somehow, by the grace of God, it works.

After nearly four years in YWAM, Drew heard God say, “In 3 days, I’m going to open a door, and I want you to walk through it.” Three days later, Kyle Tate, a staff at TCAR, texted Drew and said to work at TCAR. His wife, Sarah, also had read there was a new position open at TCAR, and they both knew they were supposed to come minister with us here at TCAR—and they did! Drew was on staff for over three years and did an amazing job! He made a tremendous impact on many young men. It’s always a blessing to the boys at TCAR when one of the staff is a former student, especially one as sold out as Drew Morrison. It gives them hope, and former students understand our boys at a deeper level and have more patience with them than I ever could.

Drew and Sarah live in Minnesota, near Sarah’s family, where they raise their four kids: Rose, Noah, Luke, and Samuel. Drew works at a Christian tech company that serves major companies like The Chosen, The Five Love Languages, Wild at Heart, etc. The family enjoys ice fishing and camping. Drew says he doesn’t evangelize as much as he used to, “It’s a different season. I’m career and family-focused now. I’m still close to the Lord and carry His heart, but the expression of my love for the Lord is different.”

I couldn’t be more proud of Drew! He has stayed the course, never had a relapse since finishing TC, and has seen God work miracles in and through him. Just look at the contrast in those pictures – Drew’s story is proof that God changes lives!