"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me"
Jeff Bates is living breathing proof that God is STILL very active in our every day lives if we simply surrender ourselves and our problems to Him.
The Country Music Artist with more than 7 Billboard chart topping singles and 3 Secular Country Music Albums as well as an Award winning Inspirational Album under his belt has been humbly sharing his story of drug addiction, incarceration, and redemption through Jesus Christ on every stage he has performed on now for almost 10 years, beginning with his first opening tour with Brooks and Dunn, Brad Paisley, and Rascal Flatts in 2003 to Headlining his own shows across the country in the following years. "I am a recovering Meth Addict", says Bates in a no nonsense tone.
"When I first signed with RCA Records in 2003 I had been out of Jail and Clean for exactly one year, and had a decision to make. Was I going to share my mistakes and tell the world of my addiction to meth, of stealing to support that addiction, of going to jail because of the drugs and theft, and finding Christ in a dirty jail cell? OR was I just going to focus on my music and put it all behind me and work on a career as a recording artist?"
"I prayed about it, and sought advice from my mentor and realized that the experience had changed ME and my LIFE forever! And I came to believe that by being open and honest about it and sharing my story that MAYBE I could help others who suffered from addiction and similar problems. And I KNEW that if by speaking out about it that there was even a remote possibility that it could reach someone who was struggling and maybe save their life and show them that there is a better way, then I HAD to tell it ALL!"
And Bates has been telling the world ever since about waking up in a jail cell in March of 2001 and realizing he was there because he deserved to be there. "It was a devastatingly amazing experience!", Bates recalls, obviously still emotionally moved by the memory.
"I had been smoking meth almost every day of my life for two years, and I had come to believe in that period of time that there was no God, no Jesus, no Devil, no NOTHING except ME and what I wanted. But there beside that little cot, I fell down in shame and pain and guilt on my knees and asked God to change me! I asked Jesus to come into my heart and change the man I had been into the man He wanted me to be! I did NOT ask Him to get me out of jail or try to bargain with Him, I just didn't want to be THAT GUY anymore…y'know, that guy who hurt everyone he cared about, who lied and cheated and stole from and manipulated people who cared about him! I surrendered my heart, soul, and mind right there to Jesus, and told Him I wanted to change if I had to stay in jail for the rest of my life! And I asked Him to help me make amends with everyone I had hurt along the way."
Bates knew he was looking at a sentence of 6 to 15 years for the felonies he'd committed but to his surprise was released after 96 days with a suspended sentence of 15 years!
"I KNEW God had a hand in it, and my only question was 'What do you want me to do Lord?' I'll do whatever you want for the rest of my life! I got a job pouring concrete and paid EVERYBODY back what I owed them and then the recording contract with RCA came a year later! I wasn't even LOOKING for it!", Bates says excitedly.
"I am at this point celebrating almost 12 YEARS of being drug free, clean and sober. They've been the happiest, most productive years of my life! I'm having more fun than I've ever had! I started going into churches and sharing my life story in song and in testimony, and telling everyone what Jesus has done in my life. But more than that I also tell of the work I had to do to surrender, let it go, give it all to Him and how with HIS help I changed my way of thinking!"
Bates has been invited to dozens of churches, rehab facilities, and even prisons to give his testimony, and the calls continue to come in daily "I've been humbled and amazed by it all,"He explains. "I've stood on stage and performed for thousands of people at a time and thought it was the most exciting thing I had ever done. But Nothing compares to sharing my story of addiction and recovery and what Christ has done inside me and in my life and seeing people come forward and give their life to HIM after hearing it, no matter WHAT size the crowd is!", the singer smiles.
"To think that the worst things I've done in my life can be used by God to help others is nothing short of miraculous to me! I wake up every morning grateful to be alive, and excited to see what He's going to do next! I just go where He leads me!"
Bates doesn't consider himself a preacher, a pastor, or even an evangelist. "I'm just a man with a ministry of sharing my experiences with others in hope that it helps them find their way to Jesus", he explains. "We started Jeff Bates Ministries just for that purpose, to keep it separate from my recording and performance work and to give those who would like me to come speak and share my testimony in their church or their area, a place to find us and connect and let us know their needs, as well as a place to share their experiences and prayer requests and hopefully find their own way to peace and happiness and a more abundant and prosperous life."
"I've heard it said that things can always get worse!', he laughs. "But I look at my life and say, 'Things can always get better with Jesus!'
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