The Story of My Life
By: Joel Fincher
My name is Joel Fincher. I would like to take some time to tell you about two men, whom I
know very well. I remember back when I was about 4 yrs old. My mother and father were still
married and we lived in Marietta. Everything seemed to be going fine , until we started losing
everything. If I’m not mistaken the bank repossessed everything we had, but that’s really not
important. We left Marietta and ended up in White County, Cleveland GA.
When we got to White County, I remember Frank Edwards and his wife letting us live in their
basement. It wasn’t long after that when my father got a job driving a truck. I remember the
first time he left, because he never came back. I never heard from my father for several
years. I remember mom working 3 jobs and this went on for many years.
When I look back at my childhood, I remember mostly good things not bad. It seems like when
daddy left, my family grew a lot closer together. We learned to appreciate one another. I
thought everyone took it pretty good except maybe Stuart, my brother. I remember him
having a bad temper back then but who wouldn’t.
After a few years passed, my father called up and said he was getting remarried. He wanted
me to be in the wedding. I remember the day he got married because afterward, he asked me
if I wanted to move down to South Georgia to live with him. He told me to think about it and
that he would get back in touch with me. When he called back, I had decided to move in with
him, because I really wanted a daddy.
When I moved in, things just didn’t work out too good. My father was still driving a truck,
working on the road, so in reality, I was living with his wife. While I was down there, I was
introduced to marijuana. I was 10 years old, going to school stoned. This didn’t last too long,
because my father’s wife and I didn’t get along too good. After a few months, I called my
mother, and I moved back to White County with her, my brother and my sister.
When I moved back to White County, I wasn’t around marijuana, so I thought I had quit
smoking it. I didn’t see it again until I was about 14years old, but this time it had friend with it
called Cocaine. It never crossed my mind not to do it. It never occurred to me how much my
life was about to change.
As I started using marijuana and cocaine, I didn’t want to be around just anyone. If you weren’
t using drugs, it seems like I didn’t really want to hang around you. That’s strange because I
always considered myself as a people person. As I continued to use, it took more and more to
get high. Then I was introduced to the “needle”. When I “shot” dope it didn’t take as much to
get me high. I thought that was a good thing. Once again, it never occurred to me how much
my life would change or now should I say was changing. At this point I realize that I’m not
doing the right things, but my life seems to be going fine.
When I started eleventh grade, my mother and I moved down to Augusta. She had gotten a
big job promotion and I had to move with her. I look back a the problems I caused my mother
when we moved to Augusta and now I realize that the biggest reason I didn’t want to move
was ONE, I didn’t know anyone there, and TWO I didn’t know where to get drugs. When I got
down to Augusta , it was a whole different life a lot of women and of and a lot of drugs. It didn’
t take long for me to find cocaine and marijuana, but this time they had more friends called
LSD and XTC. Once again, I’m thinking its normal to use drugs.
As I continued to use drugs, it seemed like it was getting harder to find the money I needed to
get them. That’s when I started dealing. That was convenient lifestyle for me because I didn’t
think it was costing me anything to use. Little did I know my life was at stake. By this time I’m
thinking as long as I have money and drugs everything is “all good”.
My last two years of high school I didn’t do to good, but I did graduate. I eventually enrolled
into Augusta Technical College and then transferred to Truitt McConnell in White County.
Now I’m back at home with a lot of different views, and a lot of different connections.
While I was going to college, I felt like it was necessary to deal drugs for extra money and to
support my habit. It wasn’t long after I moved back, when I ran into a girl whom I’ve always
thought a lot about. I always liked her but down deep I always knew she was a “good girl”. I
knew that she deserved more of a life than I was living with drugs and alcohol, but I ended up
asking her to go with me anyway, and she said yes. Her name was Melissa Mooney. I was very
excited about this new relationship, but the day we were suppose to go out on our first date,
the drug task force busted in our house, drug me out of the shower with guns pointed right in
my face, and charged me with distribution of LSD. I go busted with 100 hits. This was
probably the first time I realized that my lifestyle wasn’t normal, that everyone didn’t use
After staying in jail about 4 months, I ended up going to Stone Mountain Boot Camp. This was
a very tough program to complete. It made me want to change my life. I was very thankful for
my family, as well as Melisa, stayed by my side through every bit of it.
When I got out, I was sober for about 6 years and Melisa and I began one of the strongest
relationships I’ve ever been in. We were best friends, lovers, fishing partners and eventually
became husband and wife. As I lived a sober life, everything seemed to just come together. I
had good jobs, made good money and Melisa and I were really developing a strong
relationship. Then I was about 26, I inherited some money. I quit my job, traveling all over the
United States building playgrounds for McDonalds and started building us a nice home. I was
going to stop living life on the road and pursue being a family man.
When I started building our house, I was home again in White County and started seeing a lot
of people I haven’t seen in a while. I thought this was good until I started using again. At first I
had a lot of money, so it wasn’t hard to get the drugs. I eventually go the house done, got
another good job, and everything seemed to be going good.
I remember the night I told Melisa that I thought I was ready to have kids. It seemed as if that
decision made our lives complete. It wasn’t long after that she became pregnant. Everything, I
thought was going along good. Then we lost the baby. Neither one of us was expecting this. I
thought we handled it pretty good and it wasn’t long until she got pregnant again.
I always told myself that if I had kids, I was going to be there for them. I was going to be the
“daddy” they needed. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to be daddy. Instead of
trusting God and relying on him to give me strength and guidance, I ended up doubling upon
the dosage and ran from my fear. I would have never imagined the turmoil and despair my life
and everyone around me would soon go through. This is when I ran into a man I will call
John is a good man deep down inside, but his lifestyle reflects something different. He has
problems, but instead of dealing with them he drowns them out in continuous nights with
crystal meth. It seems like the more he ran the worse things got. John had a little boy whom
he loved very much, but his addiction prevented him from being the father he needed to be.
He knew this and it caused him to run from himself faster than he already was. He would
drown the pain out with more meth, so this led to more lies and more deceit.
I remember when John go locked up for a possession charge. He stayed in jail a couple of
days, but when he got out things go a lot worse for him. He thought some friends of his had
set him up, and he was going to get revenge at any cost. It seems like then he had forgotten
about his family, all of their love and all the support they had given him. He was dead set on
It wasn’t long after I met John, his wife and him got divorced. His wife didn’t want to their son
to see what kind of man John had became and I can’t hardly blame her. This made John’s
anger really increase. He had become filled with so much hatred, angry and vengeance that
nobody wanted to be around him. He was a time bomb waiting to explode. I cared a lot about
John, but how can you help someone that couldn’t help himself. It was a sad sight, as I
continued to watch John drowning in his own sorrow, falling deeper and deeper into a life of
self destruction. By this time John was so deep into drugs or his addiction rather, that he
couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel.
It wasn’t long after this when I noticed I wasn’t really seeing John around town anymore. At
first I thought he was doing better, but then I noticed he started carrying a lot of guns and a
lot of drugs. He was giving the drugs away almost like they were free. I didn’t really see him
anymore for a while. You might see him go through town every once in a while about 2 or 3 o’
clock in the morning, but that was it.
Next thing I hear he’s getting locked up for manufacturing methamphetamine. This really
surprised a lot of people. Nobody ever expected him to be manufacturing meth or at least I
didn’t think so. It wasn’t long after he go locked up, when he go in a fight with the police. I felt
bad for John, but I didn’t know how I could help him. His family tried to help him anyway they
could, but it seemed like the more they helped the worse things got. Every time John got out
of jail, he would be right back with even more charges. He eventually got sent to a detention
center but when he got out it wasn’t long till he was right back in.
It seemed as if John just didn’t care anymore. I knew that he cared, but his addiction had him
beat down. John knew the difference between right and wrong, but this man was full of a lot
of fear, hatred, vengeance, and drugs. It seemed like he had turned into someone he didn’t
even know himself.
After he got out of the detention center, he did good for a couple of weeks. Then, I started
seeing him falling back in to the same lifestyle he used to have. Staying out all night and
losing a lot of weight. I knew he was doing drugs again.
Next thing you know he got into more trouble and they sentenced him to go to prison. I
remember when the judge told him that he was going to prison. I’ll never forget the look in
his eyes. You could see the pain and remorse he was going through. It seemed as if he
wanted to change, but his addiction had him imprisoned already.
After John go sentenced, he stayed in jail a few months and then got shipped off to prison.
When he got down there, the parole board ended up putting him into a boot camp. After 90-
120 days, John was coming back home.
I remember the day he got out; I figured surely he had learned his lesson by now. At first, I
thought he was doing well, but it didn’t take long and here he goes again. He started staying
out all night and a lot of lies and deceit. Next thing you know he’s locked up again. This time
the parole board is going to make him serve the remainder of his sentence in prison. John
wasn’t able to go to boot camp this time. Right now he’s down at Jackson State Prison. He’s
locked down in a 7 x 9 cell, just him and his cell mate, 23 hours a day. He has a lot of time to
think about things.
You know, when John first found out he would serve the remainder of his sentence in prison,
his ex-wife came and saw him one night. It was the usual “I’m Sorries, Please forgive me. His
ex-wife Melisa looked at him and said Joel if I die on the way home, when you get out of
prison, can you straighten up and be the daddy to your son that you need to be? Right then I
knew I had to face my problems and rely on God to help me through them. Right then I
decided this time that I’m locked up I’m going to deal with Joel.
I remember when I got back to my cell. I got on my knees and prayed to God, please don’t take
her right now. I said God, please help me, I can’t live without you. Please forgive me of my
sins and please guide my life in the direction you want me to go. Please help me to deal with
and accept the problems in my life that keep destroying me. God changed my life that night. I
started reading my Bible with a passion for knowledge. As I continue to read and learn, I
started to see a person I haven’t seen in a while. It was Joel…JOEL FINCHER! He was still
You know earlier in this testimony, I referred to myself as John Doe. John is a common name
for someone whom nobody knows, someone unidentified. The continuous use of drugs
changed the way I felt inside. It changed the way I inside. I was stronger to myself.
There was a time in my life when I started living my life below what I capable of living. As I
continued to live that lifestyle, I started lying to people and deceiving them. Then when I
looked in the mirror, I didn’t like the person I saw looking back to me. I knew that I could do
better, but I didn’t. This when I over fueled my addiction.
As I continued to use drugs, my morals and priorities really got messed up. I didn’t realize the
affect the drugs were taking on me. I didn’t understand why I just couldn’t stop! The
psychological effect of crystal meth is pretty complex, after a while you really don’t have
control. Today, I’m sitting in a cell, praying to God for him to restore my brain from the
damage I’ve caused it. I know Joel is still alive which I’m very thankful for but I wonder how
much the drugs have permanently affected my brain. As I continue to read the Bible,
developing a better relationship with Jesus, I’m starting to see Joel a lot more than I have in a
while. As I strive to live my life for God, I’m living my life of what I’m capable of living. I’m not
running from myself or God. My self-esteem is coming back and I’m starting to love myself
I’m sitting here looking back in time realizing what all happens in time. I see how much I’ve
changed in time, and wonder how much more I will change. I think abut how important it is to
have God in my life, and I thank about what happens when I turn my back on him. I think
about my family, how many times they’ve stuck by me through all of this, and I think about my
son Jacob, how many times I haven’t been there for him. I see how time brings people
together, and I see how time tears people apart. It’s not something they necessarily wanted,
that’s just time. I thank the good Lord fort this time that he has given me and I pray that he
will continue to reveal himself to me. The power that comes from Christ is deeper, wider,
longer and higher than I ever imagined. I’m truly thankful for the Grace that has been
generously poured on me and the knowledge and understanding gives me a lot of peace. God
has saved my soul, when I was bottomless pits of my sins. Thank You Lord! There’s nothing I
can do about the past. IT’S OVER! All I can do is live my life from this moment on. I know God
has forgiven me, and I hope my family, as well as ever one else can forgive me too.
I’m writing this testimony to help people understand what happens to an addict or at least
what happened to me. If it wasn’t for the Grace of God, and for the sacrifice of my Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ, I wouldn’t be alive right now, and I sure wouldn’t have found Joel. It’s
more important to know that Jesus gives us power over sin, but it’s up to us to use it. As long
as you are still alive, there’s hope. All you have to do is get on your knees, hold your hands up
high and ask God to forgive you and help you. It’s that simple! Jesus loves you! Jesus lovers
You! JESUS LOVES YOU!
I want everyone to know that my life of self-destruction was my own fault. Melisa, I don’t
blame you and I don’t blame my family. It was my fault. As I continue to read the Bible, I learn
what is expected of me, I’m learning how to live a life instead of just accepting life. I was
accepting life as a sinner, and the repercussions that came with it. Today, I’m living a life
with God, enjoying the blessings that come with it.
If you’re hurting, please get help. Please don’t end your life. All you need is Jesus!
Jacob, son, I hope when you read this one day, that it will help you to understand what
happened to your dad. I pray to God, that he’ll let us live so I can be the dad you’ve never had.
This is the story of my life,
April 3, 2006
Jackson State Prison
(Serving a 2 Year Sentence)
Here are some scriptures that give me a lot of hope, knowledge, understanding, and strength.
I thought I would share them with you , hoping you might gain some wisdom too.
I can do all things through Christ Jesus whom strengthens me.
1 Timothy 1:12-14
I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful,
appointing me to his service. Even though once I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a
violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The Grace of our
Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the Fait and Love that are in Christ Jesus.
For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to
me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your
heart. I will be found by you declares the Lord and will bring you back from captivity. I will
gather you from all the nations and places from where I have banished you , declares the
Lord, and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining on toward what is ahead, I press
on toward the goal to win, the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
1 Peter 5:10-11
And the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered
a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the
power forever and ever. Amen.
I would like to thank all of my family and loved ones for standing by me. I love you all and
miss you dearly.
Zada's Story (from Lee Arrendale State Prison)
Hi! My name is Zada and I am an inmate at Lee Arrendale state prison. I want to take a few
minutes to share my story with you. I was born and raised in Robbinsville NC. As with any
family, mine had its ups and downs. But the one thing I can say is that my mother raised me
with a lot of love and a strong knowledge of Jesus Christ. Unlike a lot of addicts I don’t blame
my childhood for my mistakes. I truly believe that the things I’ve done in my life are my own
fault. My mom and dad were not perfect, but they loved me and did their best to raise me
right. I just had my own way of doing things. I guess you could say I thought I knew it all and I
didn’t need anyone telling me what to do.
By the age of 15 I was married to my first husband. I was free to do as I pleased. I was
drinking, smoking pot, and taking pills and I partied all the time. I was divorced by the age of
17 and that’s when I discovered cocaine. I spent the next year of my life drunk and high on
coke. On my 18th birthday I gave it all up, and went into a good rehab and got my life back on
track. At the age of 19 I married my second husband. We had what some would call “ the
perfect life.” We had great jobs, a nice home and seemed to be an ideal marriage. All though
we didn’t use drugs we drank heavily and over time it took it’s a toll on our marriage. In 1994 I
gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I honestly expected to remain a happy family forever, but I
was wrong. At the end of our 13th year of marriage I started using pain pills on a regular
basis. My marriage fell apart, so my daughter and I moved back to hometown. My drug use got
worse as I started trying to fit into the single screen. I started smoking ICE while shooting up
oxycontin. It became very clear to me that I had become an unfit mother. So my little girl went
to live with her dad. Now I was staying high 24/7. My family talked me into trying to get off
Oxycontin, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t stop. Than a “friend” on mine told me
that she had gotten off Oxycontin by substituting with ICE. So than I started shooting up ICE
and it worked! About a month later I was completely off the Oxycontin. What I failed to realize
that I was now very addicted to METH! In order to feed my habit I started to sell it a little bit
when I could to cover the cost of my supply. I became my own victim and anyone who tried to
save me was now against me. I thought they were just out to get me. I would get so caught up
in the game that I couldn’t tell lies from the truth, and right from wrong. Everyday I spent
endless amounts of time in search of my next high. I had days when I would think I was being
watched. I thought that there were cops hiding in the trees and on the top of my house. I even
thought my phone was bugged. I had become a paranoid mess! I got to the point where I was
carrying around guns and knives just to incase I was attacked. I would go on weeks without
eating or sleeping. In my mind it was everyone else who was crazy, not me. I didn’t understand
why no one could see what was really going on. I even reached a point where I thought I had
gotten so smart and advanced in my own intelligence level, due to the Meth of course, that I
was able to see into the demonic spiritual realm. I was able to see all the demons around me
and they were giving me messages. They let me know who was out to get me. Or at least that’
s what I thought. I was completely convinced that Meth was a miracle drug. I wasn’t about to
let anything or anyone come between my and my new best friend Meth. Than at the age of 33
I got the surprise of my life. I was pregnant! But no matter how had I tried I couldn’t get off
drugs. I just thank God on April 11th, 2004 I gave birth to a beautiful very healthy baby girl.
there is no doubt in my mind this was purely by the Grace of God. At the hospital my baby
and I both tested positive for Meth, so I had to let my mom take custody of her. I was allowed
to stay at my mom’s house as long as I could pass my drug test. For about 8 weeks I stayed
clean, but I didn’t last. I was tired from being up with the baby, the weight wasn’t coming off
fast enough and I decided to I’d use a little bit to get me though this. Needless to say it was
only a few weeks I was back at it. But this time I was using it more than ever. I was using
about an 8 ball per day, which meant that I was having to search out for larger supplies and
cheaper prices. It was about to drive me crazy just trying to keep enough dope to stay high.
Than on Sept. 8th 2004 I was completely out of ICE, I wasn’t getting along with anyone, I hadn’
t slept in about 3 weeks, and I couldn’t take anymore of it! It was pouring down rain outside
and my tears were flowing almost as fast. I cried out for God for help for the first time. I
prayed for him to either end my life or change it. I didn’t care which. I was out of dope and I
was left with no hope.
Later my boyfriend said he knew some people who had a lot of Meth, and they wanted to sell it
cheap. To an addict that is down on their luck, that is music to their ears. So we drove down
from NC to GA to buy more Meth. To make a long story short it was a setup and we were
busted. I was arrested and charged with trafficking in Meth. I was given a split sentence of
20yr. to serve 10. After a few months in Jail I surrendered my life to God. I am now doin my
time in Lee Arrendale State Prison.
I can look back now and see that God was just waiting for me to ask for his help. I hate that it
required me to come to prison. But I honestly believe that if I had not been arrested that night
I would be dead by now. Since I’ve been to prison I’ve grown very close to God. I am in the
Faith + Character Based Program. And I have access to some awesome groups that are
helping me face my addiction.I am even the chairman for the prison's Meth Awareness
Committee. Looking back on my life and my addiction to Meth I can clearly see the truth now.
It’s my personal belief that Meth is Satan’s #1 drug. He uses it to alter our mind so that he can
control us. Sometimes I even think it was real demons I was seeing. I think Satan was all
around me. I want you to know that it’s never to late to stop. God is just waiting for you to just
cry out to Him. God loves us no matter what we do. And he is always ready, willing, and able
to forgive our sins and welcome us back with open arms.
If you are reading this right now and you feel hopeless, scared, and alone I promise you it’s
not to late. Just ask God to help you and he will. Even though I am in prison right now I can
honestly say the first time in my life “I AM FREE” I have peace in my heart like I’ve never
known before. I can’t wait until the day comes that I can go home and be a mother to my two
beautiful girls. I love and miss them more than words can say. I just thank God each and
everyday that I have been given a second chance at life.
Please take what i have said to heart. If you are suing meth or any ohter kind of durgs, please
stop now before it's too late. Some people are not as lucky as I have been. I am sad to say that
today I have many friends that are burning in HELL because they waited too long. If you think
that one more time won't hurt anything, think again. Everytime I ever got high I was only
doing it one more time. And every friend I seen die only did it one last time! So please stop
now while you still can!
Please feel free to write me with any questions or comments at the address listed below:
Zada L. Sherrill
Lee Arrendale State Prison
P.O. Box 709
Alto, GA. 30510
Are you behind bars due to methamphetamine or drug related
Do you have a testimony of recovery from a drug
addiction you would like to share?
Click here for submission form
Enotah Anti-Drug Coalition
d/b/a White Co. Meth Task Force
PO Box 1368
Cleveland, GA 30528