Ashes to Redemption, by Robert Zukowski

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My testimony is long, as it has been a constant battle between Satan and God for my soul, with God always winning, of course.  I’ll try to keep it as short as I can.

At about age five I remember lying in bed and looking over my shoulder, and seeing an angel (although I had no idea what it was at the time) kneeling in prayer next to my bed.  He was huge, and much taller than the room.  He must have had a good laugh, as I was so scared of him that I pulled the covers over my head.

I went to a Polish Catholic school.  The nuns were mean and the priests were drunks.  Not knowing why, I had a great attraction to that little baby in the manger.  I loved church, and I became an altar boy.  At home we had a bible with the mass liturgy in it, so I would play priest hour after hour.  This was what I truly wanted to be.

But at age ten to fourteen I was molested and raped by three older boys aged sixteen to twenty-three.  In eighth grade at St. Charles Seminary we were asked who might want to be a priest.  On the application you had to be celibate, and my guilt and shame prevented me from lying, so that ended that.

My family consisted of my mother, who was into the occult with her lesbian friends, my uncle, who was very domineering and addicted to gambling on horses, and my grandmother, who was old-school Italian, and stayed mostly glued to the television.  I had no father.  My uncle was also into porn, which at that time was the old 8mm films.  I discovered these at age twelve.

One day while setting up the projector in great anticipation into my secret world, as I turned it on, I saw my mother and her brother about to have sex.  I turned it off and stood there in shock for I don’t know how long.  It devastated me.

My mother played a very dangerous game by fooling with the occult.  As I look back, there is no doubt in my mind that she invited demons into our lives by asking favors of them.  As I reveal my life, the evidence will speak for itself.

When I was thirteen my friend and I were hanging out on the corner.  He was leaning against the pole of a one-way sign for about a half-hour.  As I walked over to him, the sign fell down and split my head like a coconut.  I truly believe it was meant to kill me.  You could check with the streets department to see how many signs have just happened to fall off their poles in the last fifty years – probably none.

My high school years sent me on my path of destruction and about as far away from God as one could be.  I then joined the Air Force.  I was stationed in Homestead, Florida, and not only did the drinks flow, drugs were everywhere at that time.

One day I was taking every drug offered to me, and drinking heavily.  I was with this girl.  Everything was going OK, then out of nowhere I felt this surge of the most out of mind rage and hate I ever felt.  Next thing I remember is that I’m straddling this girl, choking her.  What was strange is that I felt like I was looking through my eyes like they were windows, and I had no control over what was happening.   Not knowing what to do, I cried out to God:  “Lord, please help me.”   The next thing I knew was feeling this surge forward and felt in control of my body once again.  No apology could resolve this situation, so I ended up in a south Florida mental hospital after I told them that I thought I was possessed.  I spent five years there.

While in the county facility, I used to stay up late when all the other inmates went to bed.  I paced as my nerves were so bad.  One night I heard a voice behind me say “Fear not, for I am with you.”  Now at that time I was not thinking about God, only the prison time I faced.  The voice was so real, I actually turned around thinking it was an inmate fooling around with me.

After I got out of there I moved back to Philly.  Not only were there these strange events in my life, but one could assume that I had some demon oppressions throughout my adult life until I got saved in 2004.

No matter what I did or how successful I became in my jobs as a retail manager, they never lasted long or there always seemed to be something else that would happen to ruin it, or for me to lose my little joy of that success.  I didn’t know it then, but I see now how Satan was setting me up on a suicidal path from hopelessness.

My next incident occurred at 10:30 at night while coming home from work.  I’m driving in the left-hand lane of a two-lane highway.  Suddenly my car stops running.  As I try to move over to the right shoulder, a car comes speeding up and prevents me from doing so.  My car is stopped dead.  I get out to figure how I am going to push this car to the side of the road by myself without getting creamed by the oncoming traffic.   There are no other people in sight.  As I look away, I hear a scream:  “watch out!”  I turn to see this car barreling straight at me at about seventy mph.  I froze like a deer in headlights.  All I saw was my death coming at me.  The car finally decided to veer off at the very last second, missing my rear bumper by less than an inch.  The force of his wind knocked me back a step.  He runs over telling me let’s get you off of this road before you get killed.  I thank him and he walks down the embankment into the woods, then disappears.   There were no houses there, he had no car, so where did he come from?  How was it that he just happened to be there at the exact moment that car was coming?  So even though I had tried to start my car several times with no success, something told me to go ahead and try it again.  To my surprise the car started right up and it never conked out again.

It wasn’t until after I was saved that I looked back and could only come up with one conclusion – that he was an angel of God sent to protect me from Satan’s attempt yet again of getting my soul.  This again proved to me the providence of God’s protection over my life.

 

The next thing that occurred is as a manager of a Dollar Store, I was given their largest and most profitable store that they had.  As a manager, this is what you work so hard for and dream of.  Well, I wasn’t even there two months and I started getting this feeling that I needed to get out of there.  After about two weeks of this I ended up quitting, not really knowing why, as I loved my job.  About two months later I heard on the news that my old store was robbed by a former employee, and the stock person and manager were shot dead execution style in the back of the head.  I started shaking as I realized how close once again I came to being killed.

As for my marriage and life, they were a disaster of drugs, booze, and sex.  I used all three to escape from the reality of a lifetime of pain, failure, and an over-controlling wife and disrespectful kids.  Having no boundaries set by adult authority figures in my life, I went out seeking anything and everything to spite them all by doing the opposite of what they said.

My wife was running around on me from the day I came back from Florida in 1984 until my arrest in 2004.  Instead of leaving like I should have, I stayed because it was a co-dependent relationship based on convenience, not love.  I used that as an excuse to feed my own insatiable sex drive.  I did it all:  hookers, co-workers, teenage girls, porno-shops, homosexuality, my wife’s sister, her brother, and even her mother one time.  Not to mention the porn I had at home and the many times of masturbation each day, plus sex with the wife.

It took until my arrest and conversion to Christianity that I could connect my mother’s occult and oppression of a lustful demon.  He used all the rationalization, manipulation, and justifications of my feelings of loneliness, pain, abuse, and rejection in my life to edge me towards my deviant behavior.  Of course, I take full responsibility, as he didn’t force me to do anything.  He only put the ideas in my head, knowing that I was fully ripe for the picking.  Drugs and alcohol were used in excess to give me the nerve and push I needed to overcome morality and boundaries which were already weak.

My mother and uncle passed away soon after that.  Even though they had their faults, I loved them very much.  They changed over the years, and were very good to me those last few years.  They were the only ones I felt who truly loved me.  Now with them gone I felt so alone.  I had three sisters, two older and one younger, but they all died at birth.  I held a lot of anger at God for not at least giving me one to love me.  I felt no love from my wife and my kids.

I started getting less into sex and more into drugs and booze.  One day I did an eight-ball and two dime bags of coke, plus two gallons and one quart of vodka over a three-day binge without sleeping.  I guess at some point I must have passed out.  Next thing is I find myself in this black void.  Total blackness and the weight of it was felt on me as well.  I felt a horrible sense of dread.  It was then that I realized that I was not breathing.  Somehow, I knew I was hanging on the balance of life and death.  I cried out to God:  “Oh God, not now, I’m not ready to die!”  I then heard this loud booming voice coming from everywhere.  It said “This is your last chance!”  Suddenly, I awoke in my bed and I felt the gift of breath return to my lungs.  I was soaking wet from head to toe with sweat.  It scared me for a little while to know how close I came to death.

Of course, like all addicts, that fear didn’t last.  I went into becoming a full-time addict.  I went on binges for days, having blackouts, and losing job after job.  I went from a very successful retail manager to a pizza delivery man.  And the only reason I held onto that one was for the money to buy booze and drugs.  It also had a great incentive – my boss was a coke dealer.  At this point in my life I no longer cared if I lived or died.  I felt no one loved me, and I lived in my own self-loathing of the helplessness of my addiction.

In 1999 I committed my crime.  For some reason they wouldn’t arrest me until 2004.  In the meantime, I got an indecent assault and a DUI, which I violated and was sentenced to house arrest.  I remember that even though I was high or drunk or both, I still felt this need to seek the help of Jesus Christ.  I remember crying on my knees and begging Him to help me as I could not stop my addictions.

Then finally in 2004 I was arrested for my crime and given a twenty-five-year sentence.  While in the county jail I hit bottom, as I knew with the time I faced, I would lose my wife and all I had worked so hard for over the years.  Knowing my wife would leave me, the time I faced, the shame of my crime, the humiliation, and the guilt, I wanted to die.

One day alone in my cell, I was pacing and crying, yelling to God how He didn’t care.  I had a Bible, but I needed glasses to read it.  Despite many requests to the jail, they were ignored.  Finally, at my wit’s end, I got the idea to jump off the top tier head first.  I figured that one quick jolt of pain and all my suffering would be over.  As I kept pacing to get the nerve to do it, the voices started.  First they repeated my very logic of a quick death.  Then they got louder, screaming at me to “do it – do it now!’  Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.  I headed straight for the door, pulled it open, went forward to do it, and ran right into this Christian guy.  He asked me if I was OK, which snapped me out of my trance-like state.  So, I told him about my dilemma with no glasses.  He told me he’d be right back.  Then he returned with a pair of reading glasses.  They worked!  He said he had two pairs and I could keep this one.

After he left, I was in shock.  Not only did God hear me, he also answered my prayer even though I was yelling at Him.  He saved me not only from physical death, but spiritual death as well.  I then fell to my knees crying like I never did before.  I poured out my heart and sins, and gave Him my life to use as He willed.  When I got up, I felt light as a feather.  I felt the weight of the whole world was lifted off of my shoulders.  Then, I couldn’t stop smiling!  I even asked myself why I was smiling when I faced twenty-five years, and my life as I knew it was over?  But I couldn’t help it – the smiles just kept coming.

That day I became saved.  But my battle with Satan had only begun. Little did I know it at the time.  It is said in the Satanic Bible that if a demon grants your request of him, he has the right to the soul of your first-born male.  I felt that all those years he sought to have me killed so as to get my soul. Now he was getting so close to achieving this, only to have God once again step in and use His providence to save me, not only from death, but from Satan, who no longer had any right over my life.  This only served to make him furious.  Even though he could no longer touch me, Satan will not be denied, so he then went after my family, hoping to get me to curse God – just like he did with Job.

My wife still talked to me my first couple of months in jail.  In that time she was bragging about cheating on me.  Then some kid put his fist through our door window as she looked out, and broke her nose.  She was raped several times.  Both of my sons were out of control.  Then she stopped writing to me for two years.

Finally, in October 2006 the worst news a parent can hear hit me.  My oldest son overdosed on heroin and was found dead in his bedroom.  Satan’s contract with my mother was now fulfilled.  Once again I found myself so angry with God, as I used to pray every night to watch over my wife and my kids, and to protect them.  I felt that He lied to me.  I threw my Bible and other religious materials into the trash.

While sitting on my bed crying and yelling how He lied to me, I heard a booming voice say “I didn’t, your son was out of control, he was going to hurt your wife.”  That was all it said.  When I called my wife and told her about him hurting her, she was shocked that I knew what was going on.  When she asked me how I knew, I told her that God told me.  But of course she didn’t believe me.  She said my son was stealing and selling everything in the house for drugs.  He would push her and threaten her if she didn’t give him money.  I truly believe he would have eventually killed her if God had not taken his life.

After this incident I never heard from my wife or younger son again.  She was the one who found my son dead.  He chocked on his own vomit, and she said he was blue. I can’t imagine what this must have done to her mind.  Later I would realize how God blessed me by not being there and having to go through all the pain of his death and funeral.  With the way I was, I know I would have killed myself.  I believe she may blame me for not being there as if I could have stopped his addiction.  Even when I was there I couldn’t control his drug use.  It took me years to get over the guilt I felt for his death.  Like her, I felt maybe if I was still there he’d still be alive.

My growth as a Christian was slow, as being raised Catholic made it difficult.  I held onto their misguided dogmas.  Then my wife and my son totally abandoned me, along with my wife’s family, who was all I had left.  So here I was in prison with absolutely no one to turn to for support, love, or companionship.  This evoked all the feelings of loneliness all through my childhood of having no siblings to play with, or parents that were too busy to give me much attention.  That is why even though now I look at what those older guys did to me – through rape and molestation – I still went back to them, even though it was a sick way to seek to end my loneliness.  It distorted my view of relationships.  If I found attention or love from anyone, I would want to have sex with them.  To me the two went hand in hand.

So here I am in prison, totally alone and feeling rejected by everyone I loved or cared for.  It truly gave credence to what Jesus said, that whomever loves father, mother, wife, sister, brother more that than Him is not worthy of Him.  He proved to me that human love is conditional.  But His love is totally unconditional.  Though I left Him a long time ago, and I embraced every vice and sin know to man, He never forsook that little boy who loved Him so much.  Only He stayed while everyone else ran away.  My faith and knowledge of God was only that I knew He existed.

One day at work as a cook in the kitchen, I was looking out of this very large window.  Tears started to flow as I really felt the loneliness of being abandoned.  It was snowing heavily as it was winter.  As I looked up at the sky I saw the face of Christ looking down on me.  Now this was not a cloud shaped like Christ, but an image on Christ appearing on the backdrop of that cloud.

Well, I thought as any sane man would think, I must be imaging what I saw.  So I said a little prayer saying “God, if that was really you, could you please give me a sign?”  Of course, being a baby Christian, I had no idea that you do not live by signs but by faith.  The next thing I know, the very cloud I saw Christ’s face in starts to glow in very iridescent colors.  From those colors a rainbow started to form.  Not only was it a rainbow, but the colors were odd – they glowed.  Also, I was not the only one to see it.  Other guys standing there saw it, too.  I had never heard of a snowstorm with a rainbow!  Then out of the very same cloud I saw Christ’s face, which proved to me that He felt my pain and was trying to convey that He was there and that I would never truly be alone.

I tried many times to reason all of the events I spoke of in this testimony, and could only conclude one thing:  they were very real and God from the very beginning of my life chose me and His providence were always watching over my entire life.  That was the last time that God physically made Himself know to me.

It’s been fifteen years now, and two years since I started getting down on myself, feeling useless in God’s service.  I tried witnessing to others, only to be met with constant failure.  Then my faith was given a shot as I have been denied parole six times.  The first five left me devastated.

But now I had thought about writing a book several years ago, but had no idea how to start.  Then after my fifth denial, it all came to me at once.  I felt this surge of words and ideas that just flooded my mind.  So I started to write my first book, “The Halls of Truth.”   It begins in metaphor style of me having to face my addictions in these rooms within a long hallway in limbo.  It culminates with God saving me at the end, and showing me heaven.  Each room shows me at my worst, and all the damage that addiction caused to those around me.  It goes on to a memoir of my life, my poems, and God and Satan’s impact on my life.

When I started writing this book, I believe it was spirit-driven, as the words were coming to my mind so fast that I actually asked if He could slow down a bit.  I then got discouraged as my book has been sitting on my shelf doing nothing to bring God any glory.  After about six months, a friend of mine comes up to me and tells me he has the address of this Christian woman who will type it up for free.  She has her own publisher who will only charge a percentage of the profits.  This to me is another verification of God wanting this book out there.  I am now in the middle of a tragedy, and I also have two other books in mind.  But I need a lot of research, and I don’t have access to it in here.

Let me end this with one of my favorite poems that I wrote.  It’s titled “Through Jesus’s Eyes”:

Depressed and angry cause of sin.

And all the strongholds I’m stuck in;

I think that God cannot love me

With all my sins He sadly sees.

 

I hate myself for who I am

I know that I should now be damned.

His words and laws I can’t obey

I just was never born that way.

 

Then Jesus stood before my view,

Encircled by a saintly hue;

His eyes they showed a look of love.

And all forgiveness from above.

 

When all at once to my surprise,

I saw myself through Jesus’s eyes.

This was no sin that I could see,

Just His love that He gave to me.

 

By Robert Zukowski

You may contact Robert Zukowski at the following address: 
(He would love to hear from  you):

Smart Communications / PADOC
Robert Zukowski GH7444
SCI Benner
PO Box 33028
St. Petersburg FL 33733

 

 

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