Virginia man goes from jail to pastor of church

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A Roanoke pastor is bearing all, opening up about his personal struggles and addiction to alcohol.

Dustin Stradley opens up about his past of addictions and jail time before becoming a pastor at Elevation Church's location in Roanoke. (Source: WDBJ)

Dustin Stradley is the campus pastor of one of Roanoke's fastest growing churches. The Roanoke campus of Charlotte-based Elevation Church has gone from a congregation of a handful of people to more than 1,000 people every week in just five years.

Since joining the staff at Elevation, Stradley has opened up about his personal struggles, which includes a nearly decade-long addiction to alcohol that led to not one, but two arrests.

"I shouldn’t even in some regards be here today," Stradley said.

Every day, Stradley would wake up and start drinking, often times blacking out and losing consciousness. It was in 2009 that he hit rock bottom after crashing his car and being arrested for a second time for driving under the influence in Charlotte.

"I thank God he allowed me to get into that accident before I pulled out into a busy street and I could kill someone," he said.

Days after being released from jail, Stradley's friend took him to Elevation Church in Charlotte. That experience, and the message that day by Pastor Steven Furtick, was one that sticks with Stradley to this day.

"People didn’t care that I was in jail just a few days before," Stradley said. "The people only cared I was there that day.”

It would be months before Stradley had his last drink. Eventually he kicked his addiction to alcohol and began volunteering at Elevation Church.

After spending time as a volunteer, Stradley joined the staff at Elevation, quickly rising in the ranks and eventually being named campus pastor at the Roanoke location.

Today, Stradley shares his story of perseverance to inspire others and remind them that God's not finished with them either.

"A lot of the bad decisions I’ve made, God has now taken that and allowed that to be part of my story, where God can now use my story to reach someone else who made some decisions they’re ashamed of," he said. "So yeah, there was purpose in my pain.”

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