I'm Luke Bowler, I was born in Invercargill. My parents split up when I was about four years old. I lived at my mum's house and my life was sheltered.
We would go off and see my dad in the holidays, where usually a lot of the time would be at the pub. I had a real craving to just be close to my dad, so I moved up to Wanaka and started to become a tradesman at the age of 16, which is where I found addiction.
I started drinking every day, smoking weed every day, dabbling with ecstasy, acid, whatever would come my way. Over those years of addiction I just went from job to job, to job, place to place. On the run from the cops, parties, girls, fights, drama. I was in and out of prison four times on that journey.
My last night in prison was where I encountered the Lord. For me there was no prior belief in God. There was no real belief in spirituality, nothing. I was just a lost broken mess and all of a sudden I had a demon show up next to me that physically threw me into the wall. I was terrified, I jumped in my bunk and just sat there bawling my eyes out. The presence of the Lord hit and my whole cell turned into a white light.
All I heard God say was, "You're an alcoholic. You're going to be free and you're going to change people's lives." And from there it was a process, a real uphill battle of falling in and out of alcohol and drugs and all God said to me was "Alcoholics Anonymous."
That's where I went, and even though God had taken me to AA, I was still against Jesus. I knew God was real, but Jesus wasn't there. I had a business by this stage, so life was going well. From there, I'd be walking around the café and I'd walk up to people and I'd say, "Hey bro, here's your coffee, dah dah dah," they'd reply, "Hey man, I'm blah blah blah. I'm a pastor at this church." I'd walk off and think, "I'm not going to church, God, I don't want to go to church."
It happened time and time and time again, so finally I opened up my heart to speak to a pastor. He showed up at the café and we started walking around. I just poured out my heart, my journey, all the encounters, all these things that had happened to me. I knew he understood what I was saying. I freaked out, I drove out to my drug dealer's house, got a bag of weed, drove back to my mum's where I was living, still processing the day. I chopped it all up and I sat there.
I had one bong, nothing happened. Two bongs, nothing happened. I went to have a third and heard clear as day, "Throw that away and follow me." I freaked out, I jumped up and threw everything over the neighbor's fence. The bong, the weed, the lot. I sat down, the presence of the Lord smashed me again. Some guy had given me a Bible, I opened it to where Jesus was being walked to the cross, and the words were literally coming off the page and just hitting me. Where it got through to where Jesus rose, it got so intense that I can't really put it into words.
I dropped forward and just started to weep and then the page blew over and it had my name Luke at the top of the page, and I heard a voice say, "You're now sitting at my table", and in that moment everything changed. My old self fell off. I didn't struggle, I had everything I'd ever looked for, and it just came to me. I don't deserve it, none of us do, but He's that good. He is all any of us need and He loves us so much.