A Journey To Freedom


Starting in the Middle…

It was the morning of February 24th, 2000 and I had already spent three hours at pornographic web sites, sitting in my cube at work. My stomach was wrenched in knots and I felt nauseous. I hated myself and felt a hopelessness that was beyond words. In desperation, barely knowing what I was doing, I opened a blank document and began to type. Tears streamed down my face as these words poured out:

All I want is to be free from sin.
I read that Jesus did that for me.
So what am I missing that I still struggle everyday?
Is there something I forgot? Am I deceived?

To continue in this manner is going to kill me.
I can’t stand to see myself living a lie.
Lord, I need to understand what I have done wrong.
I feel I love you, but I always turn and run.

Can you answer me?
Can you hear me?
What is it I should do to live in victory?
I am dying inside, feeling so ugly.
Lord, what should I do to live in victory?

I’ve read all the words that say that I’m already there.
But just a day, a week, a month is all I’m good for.
I don’t think that everyone is living with these same feelings.
If they are, then it seems that everything’s a lie.

Lord Jesus, I want to be with You and serve You with my life.
I know You know who I am, down to my very soul.
If this is how my life should be, can you please help me understand?
I can’t sin another day, because it’s killing me inside.

Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me.
Am I so far from you I’ll never find my way home?
Jesus, help me. Jesus, help me.
Can you please show me somehow that I’m not lost forever?

I can’t go on living like I am.
I can’t go on living this lie.
Somehow there has to be a way to get away from these chains.
I can’t stand seeing myself.
I can’t stand being myself.
At every turn I only come to the same ugly place.

I want to hate sin.
I want to hate him.
I want to hate the one who struggles for my soul.
Why do I give in? Why do I follow him?
It seems like I’m the only one who’s lying. And dying.
Will I one day be consumed or is that day already here and I don’t know it?

Jesus help me, Jesus help me
Jesus help me, Jesus help me
Jesus help me, Jesus help me
Jesus help me, I’m so lonely here all by myself.

I wouldn’t understand it for quite some time, but in that letter of desperation I had made my request known to God in three simple words: “Jesus, help me.” Understand, I had shed many tears over my sin in the previous eleven years of my Christian walk. I had cried out to God countless times before, but in this letter, having reached the end of myself, I was calling out from a depth inside me that was previously unknown.

Within minutes of finishing my plea for help, I began a new document and typed these words:

A Letter from satan — So Sad
Just in case you’re wondering, yes, I am always here.
I never let an opportunity pass me by.
I can make things seem like they’re going so smooth,
And then turn the tide and swallow you whole.

Do you really think I’m going to let things get easier?
My only goal is to make sure that you fail.
So far, things have been pretty easy for me.
I haven’t had to work too hard to pull you down.

If you only knew the hatred that really drives me.
Would you give up and follow me the way you do?
I can’t stand the One you say you love,
All I want to do is hurt Him.
If using you is what it takes then so it goes.

How sad you look each time I make you stumble.
It’s that look that feeds me and makes me carry on.
Though I know in the end I will have failed,
Until then I’ll take as many as I can.
I’ll take as many as I can.
I’ll take as many as I can.

So sad, so sad.
Well, the people of God are so sad.
It takes so little to make them crumble and fall to pieces inside.
If I had feelings I’d probably hang my head and cry.

So sad, so sad.
Well, the people of God are so sad.
You’d better know each day I’m working and planning your demise.
Don’t deceive yourselves, I’m only here to destroy you.

The only reaction I can remember having to the words before me was a cold and very lonely feeling inside. I had no idea that this day would mark the beginning of God’s hand of deliverance coming to one of His children. I also had no idea that deliverance from sexual sin would be a most painful and slow process.

From the Beginning to the Middle…

I had a concrete salvation experience when I was twenty-two. I say concrete, because I had also had a non-concrete salvation experience in the 8th grade, at age 14. The difference between the two experiences was sin. In the first, I had no idea what sin was or that I was bound in it. In the second, sin was glaring at me with a menacing growl. I was a sinner. I had no hope of deliverance from within myself. My Deliverer was Jesus Christ. I knew that something was different when I said “The Sinner’s Prayer” that second time. God had washed my sins away through faith in the death and resurrection of His Son. The joy was tangible and I began a new life.

Prior to my concrete salvation experience, my spiritual life was similar to most people in the world. Inside of me and unknown to me, a war was raging on for my soul. God planted many seeds of faith in my life as I was growing up. Friends, grandparents, books and countless other witnesses of Christ’s love led me to first ask Jesus into my heart. I wanted to know God. I wanted the kind of peace my born-again friend had. I know God heard my prayer that day when I was 14, but the enemy of my soul robbed me of my faith.

You see, my unseen enemy had also planted many seeds in my life, seeds of death and destruction. My parents had rejected God themselves and nurtured in me a love of material things. I was exposed to ideas that exalted man and denied God’s existence. I was taught that Christians were weak, pathetic failures and that independence and “doing what’s best for you” was the key to happiness. It was this attitude that allowed an unhealthy, unrestrained attitude towards sex to develop in me.

I grew up in an upper-middle class community in Southern California. It was an idyllic childhood, the American dream, but the dream was not sweet. Chronic fighting and dysfunction in our home during my childhood pushed me to search for something to bring me peace. Though I was not conscious of it at the time, I began turning to sexual behavior and fantasy to bring that relief. Even at the early age of five, I was exposed to unhealthy sexual behavior with other kids in my neighborhood. The pleasure and peace that it brought took root and by the time I was ten years old I was regularly looking at adult magazines. In a home that embraced every secular philosophy of the time, these unhealthy behaviors were considered perfectly normal for a child. So, this behavior was allowed to continue, unhindered in any way. These images and actions became the thing that gave me peace when times were tough in our home, at school or with friends. It became a part of my life, a dangerous behavior that would torment me for the next twenty-five years.

Despite the strongholds satan was establishing in my mind, God still had a plan for life. Even after the lost salvation experience of 8th grade, God brought more Christian friends, more Christian books and more encounters with spiritual truth my way.


Caroline Mosqueda and I became co-workers at Kinko’s Copies in Long Beach, CA in the fall of 1987. We quickly found ourselves talking about anything and everything. Our mutual interest in the arts fueled a friendship that eventually would change both our lives. I knew after just a few months that I was falling in love with her.

In January of 1988, my grandfather passed away. I knew little of his faith outside of that he and my grandmother took me to church when I would visit. His death was sad to me, so I decided to travel to Arizona for his funeral service. I knew Caroline had been a Christian her entire life and when I returned from my grandfather’s funeral I remember sharing with her my very jaded opinions of Grandpa Marty’s religious funeral service. I proudly declared my agnosticism while she listened quietly. Little did I know the internal, spiritual struggle she was dealing with during that season of her life. Just the summer before, in 1987, she had rededicated her life to the Lord. Now, she found herself falling in love with a man who had no interest whatsoever in her God.

Music, though a vital element to my life and ministry today, was not important to my testimony until 1987. I started playing saxophone at thirteen and immediately felt a connection. I became more proficient in high school and continued on into college, winning awards and building a reputation along the way. I had determined in high school that I would dedicate my life to becoming a professional, jazz musician and, except for a brief detour in college, that was my goal. In 1987, I made plans to move to Boston in order to study with a respected jazz saxophonist.

Meanwhile, Caroline and I grew closer to each other, and God began reminding Caroline of her promise to Him the summer before: To give Him her whole life and to not be unequally yoked. Though we spent every possible minute with one another, we were still only friends. No one suspected we were falling in love and talking about spending the rest of our lives together. But, God knew exactly what was going on. In March of ’88 Caroline got a wake-up call from God, compliments of her sister who knew nothing about our blossoming relationship. Immediately, Caroline repented for turning aside from her first love and began to fervently pray for my salvation. The Holy Spirit had spoken these words to her: “You say you love him, yet you haven’t witnessed to him and you never pray for him. How can you love him, if you are willing for him to go to hell?” Within days of her beginning to pray for me, an old girlfriend re-entered my life and Caroline and I began to drift apart.

On May 15, 1988 I boarded a plane for Boston, Massachusetts. Caroline and I parted as friends, the old girlfriend went back to her new boyfriend, and I anticipated great things awaiting me on the other side of the country. However, my life in Boston did not turn out as I’d expected. There were many exciting things happening, but I was not happy. On the surface everything seemed pretty good, but inside my heart an emptiness and loneliness began to grow. I filled the emptiness with things that had given me peace in the past: Beer, jazz and pornography. The more I turned to these things for peace, the more I became aware that there was something about my life that didn’t look good. I grew desperate for Caroline to come and be with me. She seemed to be the source for true peace. I was convinced that she could fill the emptiness in my heart and so I began appealing to her to come to Boston.

Little did I know just how much praying for me had changed Caroline’s heart towards me. Somehow, God had given her the strength to pray for me, though she felt she had lost the love of her life. And when I invited her back into my life, God gave her the courage to reject me completely. After praying for the Holy Spirit to give her the words to say, she wrote me a letter that resulted in me angrily rejecting her and turning whole-heartedly to my sinful lifestyle.

By July, I felt more alone than ever. I was in wrong relationships and my thoughts turned more and more to sex. Somehow, I was convinced sex would satisfy my loneliness, but even in this place of great degradation God had not forgotten His plan for my life. Walking to and from the train station in Malden, I found myself examining my life. I began seeing that I was in a precarious situation and that my life was headed toward a place I didn’t really want to go. As each day passed, the emptiness I was living in became more apparent. Internal conversations began that would find their way to thoughts of God and what He was about. As I walked around town by myself, the loneliness and desperation of others would stand out to me. People were sleeping on the street, starving and desperate. Others were violent and filled with hatred. There seemed to be no hope and I began to ask myself what part God, if He was there, played in this world. Though I didn’t realize it, God began to answer my questions.

I remember a day when I became conscious of the fact that the conversations I was having on my way home from the train station were actually between God and me. I was uncertain and doubtful, because I couldn’t understand how I could be talking with God. Yet, the thought kept coming back to me and I knew that I wasn’t talking to myself. On my way home one night, I prayed and asked God if it was really Him speaking to my heart. A peace and warmth flooded into my heart and I knew the answer. I knew that instant that God loved me, knew who I was and wanted me to know Him. The next day, I thought of Caroline.

It had been more than a month since I had received Caroline’s “rejection” letter. She was certain she would never see me again, yet she still felt God was asking her to continue praying for my salvation. By this point, her mother was agreeing with her in prayer for my salvation. She was the only other person who knew anything about our relationship. On the night I called, Caroline had just prayed and asked God to somehow let her know if I was OK or not. She was not expecting me to call, much less announce I had been thinking about God. That night, I shared what had been happening to me, how I had begun thinking about God and eventually began talking to Him on my walks home from the train. I asked her many questions and after we hung up I prayed and asked Jesus into my heart once again, just as I had nearly ten years before. Within a few days, I received a Bible and discipleship book from her mother. After reading the Bible regularly for a few days, I finally understood that it was the sin in my life that was destroying me. Though I had prayed the Sinner’s Prayer earlier, I felt I needed to pray again. I sat alone in the living room of my apartment and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and be the Lord of my life.

Within a matter of weeks, Caroline and I were talking every night on the phone, which made me only miss her more. I tried again to get her to move to Boston, but she only replied: “I am not going to move to Boston to be your roommate or your neighbor.” So, though I hardly felt prepared, I knew the only way I could have more of her in my life was to marry her. After a letter to my parents, informing them I was not only to be married but was also now a Christian, we shared the good news with the rest of our family and our very surprised friends. We were married on February 18th, 1989 and settled into Boston’s North End, attending a small Assembly of God church and beginning our new life together. We were still pursuing our dreams of professional music and writing careers, but somehow in that little apartment God began speaking to us that He had other plans for our lives. It was in that apartment we committed our lives to serve God and our talents to Him for whatever He wanted. And, it was there that the previous twelve years of my sexual sin came into the open and began to be the major vehicle that satan would use to try and destroy all that God had done.

The Next Twelve Years

It is extremely important that every Christian know that satan really exists. He is a real enemy, absolutely committed to our destruction. That is why I shared the “Letter from satan” earlier. The war that rages for a soul before someone accepts Jesus as their Savior increases immeasurably after that decision is made. Why? Through Christ, that person now has a direct impact on the kingdom of darkness. Many Christians do not see themselves as Christ does, and sadly satan is more aware of our position in Christ than we are. He knows more than we do what the power of the Cross is for the Believer. That was something Caroline and I were going to have to learn.

After I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, Caroline signed me up for David Wilkerson’s newsletters. The first letter from World Challenge arrived with two introductory sermons. Incredibly, one of these had to do with what we let our eyes see. While Caroline was in California, busily preparing for her wedding and a cross-country move, I was in Boston discovering the truth about the sin I had been immersed in for twelve years. This was the first time I understood how wrong this behavior was and it was the first time I tried to stop this behavior myself.

In our tiny, North End apartment, Caroline and I grew closer to God together. We began praying and reading the Bible each night. Caroline knew more about spiritual disciplines than I did, and so she helped me acquire these new habits. My hunger for the Word of God grew daily and I was finding freedom from this addiction the closer I walked with God. Since those early days, we knew we wanted to serve God in any way we could. Every opportunity to serve was accepted and though there were some struggles, I managed to walk in victory and Caroline believed I was free from this sin. However, the threat of falling was always there, and Caroline still knew nothing about how deeply rooted this sin was in my mind. She only knew it as something “I used to do,” not as something that threatened to destroy her happy marriage and shatter her trust in me and in God. She didn’t know I was as much an addict as the alcoholic laying in an alley. She didn’t know then she would have to learn to depend on God in a way she never anticipated. There were storm clouds gathering on the horizon and we were about to enter a time in our lives we could only survive by God’s grace and mercy.

In 1991 the Lord blessed us with a little girl. We had always been committed to Caroline being a stay-at-home mother, but this was difficult to do in New England in the early 90s. That fact, coupled with our desire for our family to be a part of our daughter’s life, led us to return to the West Coast. It seemed to be a promising move, but the conflict between my desire to serve God and stay attached to pornography began to increase dramatically. Sin began to rise up in me and take root deep in my heart and a secret life began to develop as time passed. Outwardly, I was serving God as a worship leader, trying to look and act like a Christian as much as possible. But, I did it all in my own strength. I was destined for failure and I began giving more and more of myself over to sexual sin. I resisted when I could, but fell back to it time and time again. Each time I fell, the enemy’s grip grew tighter. I began to feel I could never be free of his control.

The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death.” I experienced this death to my spiritual life and I became more and more difficult to live with at home. Depression and anger grew as I continued to lose the battle with this vicious enemy I claimed to hate. I lived a life dedicated to serving myself, taking out on Caroline the misery I was steeped in. It was a terrible time in our lives. And, the worst was yet to come.

Four years later, when the opportunity to return to the East Coast came, I leapt at the chance. I thought it would be the answer to the hell I was living in. Things had been much better in Boston, I reasoned, so they would certainly improve if we went back. Within six months, we were living in Maine and I thought it would mean a new life for us all. I was wrong. My sin had not stayed behind in California and my struggles did not decrease.

The next three years I began a descent into the worst bondage I could ever have imagined. I resisted sin less and its hold on my heart increased. Access to pornography was unhindered at my job and I repeatedly fell to its lure. I was becoming a literal shell of a man, living a lie at home and at church. I was paranoid, unbalanced, full of anger and resentment, hostile and verbally abusive to those I loved, and unable to control any aspect of my life for any length of time. This is the man I was at the time I wrote my desperate plea to God. I was at the end of the line.

From the End to the Beginning

I remember a specific event very early on in my marriage and walk with the Lord that has returned to my mind repeatedly over the past fourteen years. Caroline was teaching me how to pray. We had begun praying at night before we went to bed. On this particular night we had decided we want to give our lives completely to God to serve Him in whatever capacity He wanted, whether it was music or anything else. Caroline told me that night that one had to be careful praying a prayer like that because God would take you at your word and hold you to it. It could mean the beginning of a difficult life. There was a prophetic element to those words that God began to fulfill in earnest a short time after I wrote my hopeless letter to God.

The free will of man is a wonderful and horrible thing. I reached a point in my life where I actually got angry with God for giving me a free will, for not making an easy and obvious way of escape from the world and all of its torments and temptations. The truth was that God had made a way, but I was just not able to see it and no one had taught it to me in the twelve years I had been a Christian. There are many people desperately trapped in the notion that they have to do all the work to gain God’s love and approval. That the life God promised for them is up for them to fulfill. This is a lie from hell. The truth is that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whomsoever should believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The key was what Jesus had done, not what I had to do. God was faithful to bring us both to a place of understanding the truth about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It would be our true Salvation, but it required the stripping away of all that had been behind us.

Throughout our marriage there were stretches of time where I would keep the truth about my sin and my lack of success over it hidden. Our first three years in New England was the longest and the worst. Anything in life that’s based on a lie will eventually be exposed. It is a spiritual principle that God has set forth and cannot be broken. (“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23”) My lie was about to crumble in the wake of my call to God for help. I believe that the beginning of deliverance from virtually any sin for the Christian is when the secrets surrounding that problem come into the light. This is what God did for me.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
John 3:20

Caroline became aware, though I know she knew in her heart, that I was back in sin. It was the fourth time I had attempted to “leave” pornography. There was no reason for us to continue life together outside of our daughter and our love for her. Both of us were in a different place than we had ever been before in our lives. For myself, I was to the point of not caring about much of anything. I’d given up hope of ever really being free from sin. I had begun to resign myself to the fact that I was going to lose everything I had. My wife, daughter, job…it all seemed pointless to try any longer.

It was about this time that the Lord led me to find some ministries that provided help for those bound in sexual addiction. We were both being confronted with the reality that I was caught in an emotional, physical, and spiritual addiction. It was sobering, but for me, somewhat of a relief. It was the first time that I felt Caroline got a glimpse of the struggle I was living with.

Of all the materials we found on the issue of sexual addiction, two ministries stood out, primarily because they taught that Christ was the sole answer to absolute deliverance. This was something that Caroline and I both believed had to be possible. Pure Life Ministries and Mastering Life Ministries were both headed by people who had been completely set free from the chains of this sin, both of them delivered from situations far worse than mine. It was an incredible burst of hope for me. I really had never known anyone who clearly understood what I was feeling every day of my life. Hope began to stir in my heart.

The Lord began to convict me, as I read through the ministry materials, of the lies and secrets that I had kept from Caroline for all of those years. Horrible things that I really didn’t want to have to share, but I saw that until they were brought into the light that God could never really set me free. The time finally came when Caroline and I had one of the most horrible nights of our life. We stayed up all night working through the truth of my past. I didn’t think we would make it, certain that I would lose everything, but God managed to give Caroline enough strength to endure those painful revelations. I made sure that I told her everything and even though, at the time, it was a horrendous experience, I knew when it was over, that the devil had nothing left to accuse me with. The shackles began to come off. And thus began our step-by-step walk to freedom from sexual sin and a new relationship with Jesus Christ. Caroline and I both had many things to learn and unlearn about who God was, who Jesus was, and what He really had accomplished by His death and resurrection.

Many of the days to come would be even more difficult than what we had been dealing with before God began leading us out of darkness. Horrible feelings of discouragement and fear plagued me as I would make progress up a mountain who’s summit I couldn’t even see, only to slide back down with the failures I experienced along the way. It was during this period that I struggled seriously with thoughts of suicide, barely able to cope with the stumbles I had on my journey. Slowly but surely, however, the summit came into view and God began to show me that everything in life starts and ends with Him and the miraculous, complete work of Jesus Christ.

Caroline too, was faced with enormous challenges as she stood with me day after day, week after week, and month after month. She was continually forced to put all of her faith, trust, and hope in God alone. Countless times was she brought to the end of her rope only to have God lift her up and give her hope to continue and trust Him to complete the work He had begun in us. Through her, God revealed to me an incredible understanding of His faithfulness, longsuffering, mercy, empowering grace and the deep love that He has for each of His children.

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
(2 Peter 3:9)

The lessons the Lord has taught us, often through tireless repetition, are too numerous to mention. The unfathomable depths of His love towards us (Ephesians 3:17-19); the complete and utterly finished work of the Cross and the Blood of Christ for freedom from sin and our sanctification (Romans 6-8); the importance of the Body of Christ and the fellowship of the Believers (1 John 1:7); the importance of patience and trusting God (James 1:2-4); the truth about the our flesh and the devil (James 1:13-15, 1 Peter 5:8); never trusting in our works to save us (Ephesians 3:8-9); the importance of holiness and fearing God (1 Peter 1:16, Revelation 14:6-7); God uses trials and suffering to deepen our walk with Him, build our faith, and prepare us to reach a lost a dying world (James 5:8-11, Phillipians 3:10-14); the list goes on and on and I’ve only given a single scripture for each example.

It has been over three years since God began answering that cry for help I wrote at the beginning. We have many things still to learn. The Lord is forever drawing His children closer to Himself that we might be prepared for His glorious coming. But, these things we know for sure: 1) I have been set free from the power of sin, the devil and sexual addiction, 2) God will never give up on me, 3) A life with Jesus Christ as its center is the most fulfilling one that exists.

If you are a Christian reading this and you’re struggling with any problem or besetting sin. Know, without question, that the hopelessness and condemnation you feel is not from God. “For God so LOVED the world…” The message of salvation and the gospel is absolutely centered around God’s love for YOU. Call on the Lord today, be willing to lay down everything before Him, and fix your faith on what you know Jesus Christ already did for you. God will then show His mighty hand of deliverance. As you can see, it will not be easy, but “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”

If you are not a Christian, but are dealing with a stream of struggles and difficulties that seem to have overtaken you, I encourage you to ask God for help. Just like He began to speak with me on my late night walks, God will talk to you and reveal Himself. He loves you with more love than you could ever comprehend. He sent His Son Jesus, to break the power of sin that you can’t seem to get away from. All you have to do is believe in that work that He did when He lived a sinless life, died on the cross to take your eternal punishment on Himself, and rose from the dead to conquer that power of sin and death forever. In the LAM Toolbox is a link to “Steps to Peace with God.” Take a minute and read through those steps so you can understand better why Christ came and what He did to save you.

If we at Living Arts Ministries can assist you in any way, please contact us. We will pray with you, encourage you, and believe God to do a miracle in your life. We love you and thank God that we were able to share of His goodness. We pray that you were strengthened and touched by the Holy Spirit.

May God bless you and keep you,
We are His servants,

Doug and Caroline Gregan (June, 2003)