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The Topes' Story

Our prodigal son had been a challenge from day one, but when he turned seventeen our real journey with a prodigal began.

It was his junior year in High School, we had just moved to a new area and that’s when he was introduced into the “drug” scene. As he will tell you, it only took “one” time, and he was hooked. His drug of choice, cocaine. As parents that grew up in the Vietnam era, we had heard of various drugs, but had never experimented with nor really knew too much about all the various kinds. We were like fish out of water and didn’t know what to do or where to go to get help. We tried to get help from the legal system but that was no help.

We sent our son to various treatment centers that were recommended but that was no help either. We finally found a National group called “Tough love” and that was where we first found support and help. By then, we were at our wits end...our home was in complete turmoil. We had two other children at home that were also being caught up in all this. It was a really hard time on all of us...our marriage suffered, our children suffered and our family suffered.

During this we were transferred to Atlanta, GA with my husband’s work. We moved and the problems went with us. We were fortunate to find a good church to go to and it was through the church, we were invited to attend the very first Prodigal Ministries Bible study. At that time, we did not know where our prodigal was and it would be six years later that we would finally have any contact from him and that would be from prison. One of my worse fears as a mother, was that my son would end up in jail……well, he not only ended up in jail (many of them in fact), but he was a “felon” in prison.

He was in and out of prison twice before we ever saw him again, but during that time, we were in the Prodigal Bible study/support group and had developed a really strong bond and support with the group. We learned from the study how to take care of ourselves and deal with the issues we faced as parents of a prodigal and to let go and allow God to deal with the prodigal. As parents, we think we should always be able to “fix” the problems, but we learned through the study, that is not the case. The guilt and frustrations we had going into the study we learned to release, therefore becoming healthier parents and a healthier family. We learned through God’s Word how to release our struggles to Him and even came to realized that His first two children had been “prodigals” too.

Our prodigal is now 38 years old, out of prison and is living near us. He continues to have his struggles, but we know God is working on him and will continue to work on him until he is where he should be. As for us, we have helped to lead several prodigal studies and have met many hurting parents along the way but just to see them realize that there is HOPE out there and there are others in the same or similar situations as they are in, and to see their frowns turn to smiles and their tears turn to laughter, brings such joy to us as prodigal parents ourselves. We have also been fortunate enough to take the Prodigal Bible study/support group to Poland and share it with the people there. We feel it saved our lives and the life of our family, and for that, we will always be grateful.