A Drug Runner Stopped On The Road To Ruin
Adam and Amanda Whittle said “thank you” to NewSpring owners for giving to the church that changed their lives forever. Watch video and read the story behind their story ...
The last person Adam Whittle expected to visit him in jail was his wife.
He and Amanda had been separated for more than two months and planning to divorce. Their 9-year relationship had become an endless cycle of arguing and fighting, mostly because Adam was always high, always chasing money.
Adam would smoke marijuana when he woke up, on the way to work, at work, on the way home, at home, even running errands. He’d smoke in a day what others would in a week. When Amanda was no longer in the picture, the small-time pedaling that he'd done to support his all-day, every-day habit turned into trafficking to get rich quick.
"Money was life,” he says. "As long as I had money it didn’t matter."
With $600 and 20 pounds of marijuana fronted by a friend, Adam made his first haul from Colorado. Within two months, he started team driving 35 hours back and forth from California, where he could buy each 20-pound shipment cheaper. The shipments carried a street value between $70,000 and $100,000.
Can a man like me really change ... on the inside?
On one fateful day, he wasn’t banking on the informant, the wire, or the targeted traffic stop. Only 15 minutes from home, Adam's rented Chevy truck was pulled over by police on Interstate 20, drawing a swarm of 20 Georgia and South Carolina law enforcement vehicles in a matter of minutes.
"It was all over,” he says. "My heart just dropped. I kind of just went from living on cloud nine to below sea level in a matter of seconds."
That’s how Adam found himself inside an Augusta, Ga., jail facing drug trafficking charges that could lead to a 30-year prison sentence.
And that’s why, two days later, Amanda was visiting him in jail, wanting to try again. She told Adam he could move back home if he would stop smoking, stop selling and agree to go to church.
"God just opened her eyes,” Adam says. "People tend to pray when times are hard, and she started praying, and something told her to come to the jail and start over and give it another chance."
NewSpring was the talk of their hometown of Greenwood, SC. So after a distant acquaintance bailed Adam out of jail, that’s where the couple went that first weekend.
"A lot of people we knew from high school or from Greenwood — everybody we had partied with — had decided to change their lifestyle and start church,” he says.
Soon enough, the Whittles became one more example of the extraordinary life change that happens when there’s a place, like NewSpring, for the lost and broken to come and hear the good news of Jesus.
WATCH: See what happens in Part 2 of Adam and Amanda's story.
‘Too Far Gone for God’
When he met Amanda in high school, she was a church girl who had asked Jesus into her life at 12. She didn’t cuss. She was saving sex for marriage. She obeyed her parents. She said her prayers every night.
Adam, too, had spent his childhood in church, but he wasn’t having any of it. He loved making fun of "super Christians" just like Amanda.
"I thought it was like, you do what you want, you go to church on Sunday, say your prayers,” Adam says. "I would go to church and fall asleep. It was contradicting. It wasn’t interesting."
When I got arrested everyone said, 'You need to divorce him.' You don’t find too many wives who want to get back together
Adam’s parents got divorced when he was 13. He didn’t handle that well, he says. By the time he was in ninth grade, he was all about girls and going to parties and getting drunk. By 10th grade, he was smoking weed — and liked it, a lot.
"I always wanted to get high, and the easiest way to do it for free was to sell it,” he says.
As a three-sport athlete and straight “A” student, he had the perfect cover. It wasn’t long before Adam, to his delight, had pulled Amanda away from the ways of her family and her faith in Jesus.
They continued to date, and they married in 2009 after he joined the military.
Amanda’s response to the drug bust made it easy to see how special Amanda was. And if church was what it took to keep her, then church it would be, he told himself. He would do his best not to fall asleep and make it look like he was listening.
Adam remembers thinking, "I’ve got to do this. This is happening for a reason."
“When I got arrested everyone said, 'You need to divorce him.' You don’t find too many wives who want to get back together," he says.
I still felt like I was too far gone for God to want someone like me
Adam had never been to a church like NewSpring, where the pastor cracked jokes and the music was cranked up. His former high school classmates and party friends greeted him with a warm smile.
The environment forced him to listen to the message about how Jesus could forgive every sin and lead him into an abundant life. He left thinking, “Can a man like me really change … on the inside?”
"I still felt like I was too far gone for God to want someone like me,” Adam says.
The next week, Adam heard God speak to his heart through Perry Noble: “Adam, you are not too far from God.”
“It hit me hard. I couldn’t control my tears. I felt an overwhelming feeling I had never felt before. I decided I was going to give my life 100 percent to Jesus.”
Jesus is Greater
After Adam asked Jesus into his life, the changes were immediate.
At the end of his workday as a vehicle fleet manager, Adam was at the church as much as he could be, serving early on Sundays and at the Fuse student ministry on Wednesdays.
The money Adam had always craved he now was eager to give back to God in tithing. The couple also joined a NewSpring group so that they could get the help and support of other Christians living for Jesus.
The commitments Adam and Amanda made to each other when they were reunited in those first hours out of jail — to put each other first, to treat each other with respect, to communicate — started to become an everyday reality. So dramatic was the turnaround that folks assumed they were a strong, mature Christian couple, recently wed.
"We had never had a relationship like this before,” he says. "We never had Jesus in our relationship before."
If I go to prison that doesn’t change my faith. That’s the consequences of my actions. God is still good — whatever he has for me.
As the weeks went by, and as Amanda’s own faith was reawakened, her confidence grew stronger and stronger that Jesus made Adam brand new.
“She knew it wasn’t something I was trying out, but living and committed to,” he says.
With the help of staff, volunteers, and their Group, the couple is now the happiest they’ve ever been.
For the first time in his life, Adam has a passion: pouring into the lives of students in the Fuse student ministry every week to help them understand that Jesus, alone, is what matters. He knows better than anyone that every other thing the world can offer — money, highs, whatever — is meaningless, temporary, and leads to destruction.
Adam’s charges are still pending in court, but he’s not letting the threat of a prison sentence cast a shadow over their lives. Whatever happens, both he and Amanda know that Jesus is greater than every circumstance they face.
"If I go to prison, that doesn’t change my faith. That’s the consequence of my actions. God is still good — whatever he has for me."