BY RUTH RICE

RRICE@TRIBDEM.COM

The Rev. Ron Brock has brought people to heaven with his preaching and has gone to the deepest pit of hell with his drug addiction.

He will tell his story during a service at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 26 at Peniel Praise Community Church, 760 Cooper Ave., Johnstown.

Brock also will be present for Peniel’s baccalaureate service for its 30 graduates at 7 p.m. Thursday at Peniel, a banquet at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Pasquerilla Conference Center and a commencement at 1 p.m. Aug. 25 at Peniel.

Brock, who is 62, went through Peniel’s drug treatment program and credits it and Marion Spellman, founder and president of Peniel, for saving his life.

Peniel Ministries is a Christian-based drug-and-alcohol treatment center in West Taylor Township.

In addition to working to break the addiction, Peniel staff members work to uncover skills that can lead to a productive life.

At 29, Brock was immersed in ministry as pastor of North Cleveland Church of God in Cleveland, Tenn., known as one of the most prestigious churches in that denomination.

“I was chaplain of the Tennessee legislature and was invited to the White House by President Carter,” Brock said.

“I got sick with the stress and pressure of a large staff. I had migraines, an irregular heartbeat and insomnia.”

By his mid-30s, Brock was addicted to prescription pain medication.

“I lost everything and resigned from the church,” Brock said.

“I learned how to doctor shop to get my prescriptions.”

Brock went into a treatment center in Arizona, then went back into addiction when he returned home.

For the next 25 years, that pattern continued, with Brock doing well then returning to his prescriptions.

At 58, he was introduced to methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth.

“I was exhausted and someone close to me told me, ‘I’ve got something for you,’ ” Brock said. “They taught me how to smoke it, and it gave me energy. There was no gun to my head. The first time I used it, it didn’t do anything.

“The second time, it lit up my life and I was immediately addicted.”

After nine months on crystal meth, Brock had spent $30,000 and weighed 99 pounds.

“It so destroyed me,” said Brock, who weighs 185 pounds today.

“I was near death, and I could feel it. I didn’t want to live. All I wanted was to smoke meth. It’s unbelievable how it controls you, the same as crack.”

Brock believes God used his near-death experience to send him to Peniel before he totally collapsed.

Brock’s brother-in-law drove him to Johnstown and he was accepted at Peniel, but had to be hospitalized with chest pains and a high blood sugar count from diabetes.

“I had no memory of where I was,” Brock said. “I couldn’t remember who the president was, what state I was in.”

Doctors at Memorial Medical Center told Spellman that Brock was so sick he should remain hospitalized, and Brock’s family in Tennessee thought of placing him in a state mental institution.

Spellman told all of them if she could have Brock for a month or even two weeks, she could make a difference, and Brock was released into her care.

“She went out on a limb for me, and God was in it,” Brock said. “She’s a hero.”

Once at Peniel, Brock continued to have problems remembering, but during his 13-month stay his memory returned.

Brock was then put on staff at Peniel for another nine months.

“Peniel is my passion,” Brock said.

“Dr. Spellman is the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. I’ve never heard a better woman preacher and few men.”

Brock is now an international evangelist, speaking on the benefits of Peniel.

“I’ve spoken at four conventions and received a standing ovation,” Brock said.

“I love to share my testimony and raise money for Peniel. I’ll spend the rest of my life doing it. I want to let others know they can be free.”



The schedule

What: Baccalaureate service for Peniel graduates.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Peniel Ministries, 760 Cooper Ave., Johnstown.



What: Banquet for Peniel graduates.

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Where: Pasquerilla Conference Center, 301 Napoleon St., Johnstown.

Tickets: $30.

Reservations: 536-2111.



What: Peniel commencement ceremony.

When: 1 p.m. Aug. 25.

Where: Peniel Ministries, 760 Cooper Ave., Johnstown.



What: Sermon by the Rev. Ron Brock.

When: 10:30 a.m. Aug. 26.

Where: Peniel Praise Community Church, 760 Cooper Ave., Johnstown.

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