Steve shares a 10-minute video of his faith story at https://youtu.be/nw24G5E_L1U
My name is Steven Daddona. I’m 59 years old. I grew up in a Roman Catholic household where I was told to go to church and Sunday school until the age of 18. Then my dad gave me free choice to do whatever I wanted to do. I chose to abandon church.
My parents were very active in the Catholic Church and they were continually upset about the lack of support and love they received from the church in return for what they were sacrificing to do for the church.
So I didn’t have anything that really pointed to love. I went about living my life and pursuing desires of the flesh, and for a long time I was able to manage that and be successful. I never allowed my extracurricular activities to affect my professional life and was able to accomplish a lot, but was also not satisfied.
I continually believed I was missing something, and something was haunting me about an empty life. I tried to fill that in all the wrong ways and eventually what didn’t affect work started to affect work.
I did physical tree work, climbing trees. I’m grateful today to be alive because I truly believe that somebody wasn’t done with me yet, even though I may have been done with myself.
In 2010 my wife was involved in a tragic automobile accident. She crossed the center lane of a road and unfortunately her life was taken. Then I spiraled further down into a sea of despair and addiction. You would think that I spiraled downward because of the loss of my wife, but it was because I was free to indulge my selfishness and my darkness. It had nothing to do with remorse.
It’s 2011. I’d crossed every line that I swore as a man I would never cross. I was living the most immoral, reprehensible kind of life. If anybody really knew the things I was doing in the dark they wouldn’t look at me the same.
I had previously been stopped for DUI and had a pending case. So here I am in the seat of this car recognizing what I have done, the position that I’m in, that I may go to jail.
We began a two day job at work where at the end of the day we would leave all the work equipment at the job, and I would drive the crew back to the shop so that they could take their cars home. I’d been drinking all day long and pulled out into the path of an oncoming vehicle with a with a woman and all of her children packed into this car. They T-boned me and at that moment everything went blank.
Then, all I could hear were screams. All I could think of was the Viet Nam war footage I’d seen as a young kid where women and children were running and screaming from Napalm. At that moment I recognized the gravity of my actions.
Several months before this event I had started going to church. I recognized that something in my life needed to change. Immediately I was asked to be a part of the praise team. I was playing the guitar and a part of the praise team but I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my Savior.
I had made no changes in my life and continued to fall down that road. That led me to that moment on November 11, 2011. I had previously been stopped for DUI and had a pending case. So here I am in the seat of this car recognizing what I have done, the position that I’m in, that I may go to jail.
So I did what everybody does at a time like this, and I said this prayer, “Lord, I promise, if you get me out of this, I will give my life to you, and I will serve you and I will do things the right way.” I passed the field sobriety test and the breathalyzer test, probably because I was doing other drugs besides alcohol that gave me the ability to do physical things. By the grace of God, nobody was injured in that accident.
The guys get back in the truck and they’re taking me home. As soon as we get near a liquor store, I command them to pull over. I go into the liquor store and I’m picking back up where I left off. Even though I told the Lord that I would give Him my life.
So we’re getting close to my house and I didn’t want to go home. My pastor was aware of my situation and was at my house with my girlfriend and my two boys. Instead, I went into this empty house behind my house.
Suddenly, here come red, white and blues down the lane. Somebody knew I shouldn’t be in this empty house and called the police. The police took me around the corner to my house and just dropped me off.
My pastor came out to greet me, and this is where my life completely changed.
My girlfriend and my two boys were grateful to see me. And the pastor says, let’s pray. We huddle up in my living room and the pastor begins to pray. I didn’t recognize it then, but now I know that in that moment, for the first time in my life, I completely surrendered. I let go of everything that had been haunting and hurting me for so long.
I started to see my life flash in front of my eyes. There was something present in that vision that I couldn’t see. With each memory it flashed in front of my eyes. I got closer to everything that was playing out in front of me. Finally I’m directly behind an ominous presence. I can’t even describe it, but it shook me to my core.
What was in front of me turned around and, the only way that I can describe it is to imagine seeing yourself covered in sin and selfishness. When I saw that my heart was forever changed. I did not desire to be that man. That vision still haunts me today. I believe Jesus showed me that vision.
Jesus was there with me. Jesus was not done with me yet, and Jesus saved my life.
From that moment on I have given my heart and my soul and everything to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m so grateful for the broken road I’ve walked in my life because I am able to minister to people who are lost, like I was lost.
I truly believe that each of us has a purpose to minister to those that find themselves in the places where we have found ourselves. As soon as I was able to see who I truly was and what I had truly perpetrated in my life, I couldn’t believe that I could ever be forgiven. I was grateful for that moment of clarity in my life, so that I could begin to make the necessary changes to become the man that I am today.
Soon after that I was driving down the road listening to Christian radio, when I heard David Crowder’s song, “How He Loves Me.” For the first time I realized just how much my Lord loves me, and how much He’s loved me my whole life. I had made all those bad decisions for all the wrong reasons, and all I had ever had to do was turn to Him.
My parents tried their whole life to get me to see that. They would say, “Let go and let God.” I remember as a young man laughing at them because I said, “That’s impossible. If we don’t do for ourselves, nobody’s going to do it for us.” How wrong and how foolish I was.
Once I recognized that the Lord had forgiven me and forgotten my sins, the second hardest part of my faith walk began: forgiving myself. It was hard to believe that other people, even other Christians, would forgive me, accept me, and not look at me differently.
I was blessed to attend a weekend retreat called the Walk to Emmaus. I recommend it to anybody coming to Jesus. It will forever spiritually change your life. You don’t even have to have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior to attend. So, if you don’t want to find yourself in a car accident while drunk, there’s an easier way to encounter Jesus.
So man, I’m grateful for those moments that I’ve had, because in a sense, it seared into me in the beginning of my faith journey, something tangible that I can touch. If I want to, I can be taken right back to that moment when I truly believed He picked me up from the mess I had put myself in.
I’m grateful today to been clean and sober for almost 10 years. I celebrate 10 years as we come up on November 11th, 2021 and wow, all I can tell you is it gets better every year. Doesn’t get easier, but it gets better.
Since that time I’ve been the worship leader at a United Methodist Church. Music is a gift. I truly believe the Lord has given me that gift and used it to take his music and his praise into places that don’t get to hear it. So I’m very active today in what’s called the Kairos Prison Ministry and Chrysalis weekends – the Emmaus experience designed for youth.
All I can say to you is that our Lord and Savior is real and He is with us even when we are incapable of seeing Him. This love surrounds us. So, if I can leave you with anything today – if I’ve learned anything in the last 10 years – it’s that I am truly loved by Him and forever grateful for that, and I will continue to shout it from the mountains every chance I get.
More Faith Stories
We built the first church with great difficulty. We went back to the States and the board asked us to become mission staff with the Outreach Foundation. That was 25 years ago, just about, and we’ve gotten more involved with Kenya as days and years went on.
I am a chef by profession. I’m happy because I do what I love. Now I work at Villadise Tours and Safaris, where I meet so many different people coming from far. Being helpful is just a blessing to other people.
Then God started tugging on my heart. There was a church sermon series that was about taking your God-given dream off the shelf. I was like, “I don’t know what my dream is. God, if you have a dream for me you’re going to have to tell me what it is.”
We attended church but maintained a passive religious life. Our family had been going to church and proclaiming, “Jesus is our Savior and Lord,” with our mouths only. It seemed that my heart was gradually drifting away from God.
So, I just put my faith in Jesus. I trust him and it is my prayer that my children and the entire community will know Jesus because of my faith. Our salvation should not be only our own. We should encourage other people.
I’m no longer worried because I have come to learn that God’s timing is the best. You cannot hurry God. These days, all I do is wait, no matter what, I just wait. I know my time will come and that time is God’s time. So, I keep on waiting for God to do for me wonders.