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September 2015 - Feature Article
by Will Honeycutt

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September 2015 - Feature Article

Chuck Long flipped the glass crack pipe, poked the charred chore boy to the other end, and took his last blast of sticky crack resin. Forty pounds underweight, hollow-cheeked, toothless, and broke, Chuck’s baggy, soiled clothes threatened to swallow him. He’d made a phone call two days earlier, one that would change his life, but the waiting made him antsy.

In a lot of ways his last high was the final low in a nine-year tumble down the steep slope of the valley of the shadow of death. Since 2005, Chuck had drifted from tents to crack houses to abandoned buildings. He hid a cardboard box in the woods and covered it with a tarp—a makeshift den to smoke in solitude. Occasionally he would surface for meals. Staple fare was crushed Ramen noodles in a plastic bag run under tap water from a gas station restroom. Adding diced ham from a can was a treat.

“I’ve told every lie I could tell,” Chuck, now 53, says, scratching his gray goatee. “I lost all interest in myself and my family.” His searching blue eyes moisten when he confesses, “I hadn’t seen my daughter in six years. And she doesn’t remember me before that.”

Why did Christ die for you?

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