Recovery can be laughing matter

Brutal honesty, experiences help man minister to those struggling
BY MARIE BAKKEN Reporter Staff Writer

Kilcrease as "Nitro" with group of vacation bible school kids a few years ago. "Your personality changes when you put that makeup on. It made me the person I wanted to be—happy, never sad." Kilcrease as "Nitro" with group of vacation bible school kids a few years ago. "Your personality changes when you put that makeup on. It made me the person I wanted to be—happy, never sad." "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." Proverbs 29:23 Don't judge a book by its cover. That holds true for many people, especially Kenny Kilcrease.

He admits to doing things he is not proud of, like taking drugs and attempting to kill himself.

But what the 55-year-old Rockdale man is the most proud is his relationship with God and he loves to share his testimony of how he got there.

The picture can be disturbing, involving mental hospitals, guns and even clowns.

Kilcrease grew up in a broken home, his father was an alcoholic and his mother addicted to prescription drugs.

"I had a counselor once tell me with my family history, I didn't have a choice but to be an addict," Kilcrease said. "I told her nobody made me do anything. Too many people today do not accept responsibility for their actions."

Kenny Kilcrease admits to others who are struggling that he doesn't have all the answers. But he "knows the way to the One who does." Kenny Kilcrease admits to others who are struggling that he doesn't have all the answers. But he "knows the way to the One who does." He was a self-proclaimed people pleaser, but couldn't please himself. Kilcrease said he was a trouble maker throughout school and made awful grades.

In 1972, Kilcrease quit high school the second day of his senior year and joined the Army. It was there he discovered the world of drugs.

"Before I got out of the Army two years later, I had tried just about every drug known. I injected drugs for the first time," he said. "For most of the next 15 years I was high everyday on something."

He did several different alcohol and drug treatments, but nothing helped. He struggled through three marriages and had two children.

He was raised the grandson of a Church of Christ minister, but he and his third wife attended a Baptist church.

In Sept. 1983 after five Sundays of grabbing the pew in front of him during alter call, Kilcrease made the decision to become a Christian.

He quit all the drugs, alcohol and cussing overnight.

A month later he got a job overseas. He was gone 16 months and came home to fall "off the wagon." He was back into drugs—hard. Kilcrease tried rehab centers again, but nothing worked. Kilcrease wasn't ready to give those things up.

He was in Mount Pleasant working, still getting high whenever and wherever he could, and found himself in a pawn shop buying a gun. Sitting in a motel room with the gun, contemplating killing himself, Kilcrease pulled the trigger.

He said at that moment, he had no guilt for loved ones left behind.

"I don't know if anybody could have said anything that would have changed my mind," Kilcrease said.

"I sat on the bed and put the gun to my chest at the motel and pulled the trigger," Kilcrease said. "It did not really hurt, my pain was already bad I guess." He laid down on the bed in hopes of bleeding to death. God had other plans.

Kilcrease was rushed to the Mt. Pleasant hospital where he had surgery to remove the .38 caliber bullet from his chest. He still has the bullet and shows it off when giving his testimony.

He went through recovery and withdrawal and the hallucinations that comes with them. He was then sent to the Terrell State Hospital and was confronted by a doctor and his father about his drug problem. He wasn't ready to hear it.

"My pride wouldn't let me ask for help," Kilcrease admitted.

While at the Terrell Unit, he met a man who Kilcrease says was sent as a sign.

"I met a man who had a huge scar on his head. He had tried to blow his brains out. I knew God had shown him to me for a reason. He showed me that I wasn't the only one hurting," he said.

In 1989, after six weeks at Terrell, he was moved to a halfway house in Gatesville. Before his 90 days were up, he had fallen off the wagon and started drinking and shooting cocaine again.

"I went through all my syringes so I used the one my dad used to vaccinate his horses with for my last two or three injections," Kilcrease said. He knew then he needed more help.

I drove back to the state hospital in Terrell from Corsicana, but they said he could only stay two weeks. Kilcrease knew that wasn't long enough. He was told of the Alcoholic Rehabilitation Unit at the Waco VA hospital. They didn't take drug addicts, but they took him in. "They told me, 'your honesty got you in here'," he said.

When Kilcrease made that drive to the Waco VA the actual road name helped him realize the journey he was about to take. The name of street was New Road.

A counselor at the Waco VA told him on the the first day that if there was "no change" then there would be "no chance".

"He told me 'you keep what you have by giving it away'," Kilcrease said. That very night he re-dedicated his life to Christ.

Kilcrease went through the program, got clean and as of July 11, 2009 had been clean and sober for 20 years.

He moved to Rockdale in 1990 to work for Alcoa (he now works for Fluor) and there met his wife of now 19 years, Blanca. They have six children through "hers, mines and ours" he said.

Since getting sober, Kilcrease has been involved in different areas of the ministry.

"God didn't keep me here to keep my mouth shut," he said.

He was involved in the prison ministry for seven to nine years, mostly through the Prisoners Bible Institute, and said that working in the prison ministry was "some of the best spiritual experiences."

"I have a heart for lost people," Kilcrease said.

His most "famous" ministry is that of "Nitro", Kilcrease's clown name during his three years in the clown ministry.

Kilcrease found the opportunity through an ad in the Temple paper. He said it used to take three hours to put on the clown make up when he began in the clown troupe.

"Your personality changes when you put (the makeup) on," he said. "It made me the person I wanted to be- always happy, never sad."

As part of the clown ministry, he would visit hospitals, nursing homes and make appearances at Vacation Bible Schools and birthday parties. He has since given up Nitro, but still has all his clown gear.

Kilcrease has now been called to help others through the "Celebrate Recovery" program offered in Rockdale.

It is a Biblical, non-denominational, program to help people overcome any hurts, habits or hang-ups they might have, he said. The group meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday nights in the fellowship hall at First Baptist Church. Call Kilcrease at 446-6878 for more information.

"I nearly died and He saved me. I want addicts to know there is help. I don't have all the answers, but can lead them to the One that does.

"My life is so complete now. I learned to forgive myself because God did. I like who I am now. I care more for others than myself," Kilcrease said. "My life now- there's not a drug in the world that can make me feel better than the way I feel now."

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