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“Redeemed:  The Scott Reynolds Story"

Jon Kleinknecht
Award of Outstanding Merit - $1,000

Jon Kleinknecht has a journalism career spanning 32-plus years, having served much of that time as the sports editor of the Galion Inquirer. Jon is a 1980 Galion High School graduate, attended Schoolcraft Community College in Michigan, and a graduate of the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy.This is the first writing contest he has entered in 12 years and was led by The Holy Spirit to do so.The life story of Scott Reynolds is phenomenal, and Jon hopes it serves as a source of encouragement for many.

 

© October 27, 2012.  Galion Inquirer.  All rights reserved.  Reprinted with permission.


A stout 6’7” tall, Scott Reynolds doesn’t just enter a room … he takes it over.

 

I’m hard to miss,” the 1976 grad­u­ate of Galion High School laugh­ingly said dur­ing an inter­view last month in the Galion Inquirer office when he returned to his home­town for Con­nec­tions Weekend.

 

These days, the mid-50s for­mer prep and col­lege bas­ket­ball star is not only a giant of a man, he has a heart just as big for those who are down and out.

 

The fact that he is alive today is a mir­a­cle in itself.

 

But then … Scott Reynolds him­self is a miracle.

 

****

 

“Be sober-minded; be watch­ful. Your adver­sary the devil prowls around like a roar­ing lion, seek­ing some­one to devour.” (1 Peter 1:5–8)

 

I started drink­ing, prob­a­bly, when I was 17 years old,” he said. “I always had drugs for free. I never had to pay for them, and that was my dirty lit­tle secret,” explain­ing that a rel­a­tive was a promi­nent drug dealer in cen­tral Ohio. “The alco­hol wasn’t a secret, but the drugs were. Most peo­ple who knew me in Galion had no idea. When I went off to col­lege, it got worse and worse.”

 

What began as typ­i­cal, school­boy par­ty­ing where he grew up, quickly turned into full-blown cocaine and alco­hol addiction.

 

Addic­tion that led to him drop­ping out of col­lege … twice.

 

Addic­tion that was par­layed into the sell­ing and even inter­na­tional smug­gling of drugs while he was a mem­ber of the United States Marine Corps.

 

Addic­tion and drug deal­ing that resulted in him being arrested, charged and con­victed over­seas where he was sen­tenced to serve five years in prison.

 

My life was such a mess,” Scott humbly said as he shifted in a chair. “There were times in prison where I sat and won­dered how it all got so out of con­trol. It was surreal.”

 

Things use to be so much better.

 

And sim­pler.

 

As a youth in Tiger­town, Scott was what a for­mer team­mate described as “fun lov­ing” and “easy going.” Bas­ket­ball was his game and he was a stand­out player.

 

A three-year var­sity let­ter­man, Scott was a junior on the win­ningest team inGHS hoops his­tory, the 1974–75 Tigers. That squad posted an 18–4 record and was the last boys’ bas­ket­ball team in Galion to win a league cham­pi­onship. All five starters — seniors Jeff Fis­cher, Bill Fox and Chuck Roser, sopho­more Mike Nicholls, and Scott — went on to play collegiately.

 

Another mem­ber of those Tigers, Glen Nog­gle, was a sopho­more. He, too, played ball in college.

 

A year later, it was Scott as a senior post player and Nicholls as a junior guard star­ring on a team that went 10–10. Scott led the Orange-and-Blue in scor­ing aver­ag­ing 15.7 points a game, and was the top rebounder in the North­ern Ohio League. In NOL play, he had the three high­est scor­ing games of the sea­son. His per­for­mance earned him First Team Dis­trict and First Team NOL honors.

 

I had a good senior year, but we didn’t win a lot of games,” said Scott. “Bowl­ing Green (State Uni­ver­sity) and Mid­dle Ten­nessee State were inter­ested in me.”

 

He set­tled on a schol­ar­ship offer to attend Cum­ber­land Col­lege in Lebanon, Tennessee.

 

He wasn’t there for long.

 

I hated school,” Scott matter-of-factly stated. “I wanted to go to play bas­ket­ball. I wasn’t inter­ested in studying.”

 

While at Cum­ber­land, he was the dri­ver of a car filled with teenagers that ended up in an acci­dent. Scott and sev­eral of the youth were hurt. Scott sus­tained a severe head injury and dropped out of school soon after.

 

A few months later, tragedy struck again.

 

Enjoy­ing a Lake Erie fish­ing trip with three other men from Galion, the boat capsized. One of his fish­ing bud­dies drowned. Scott and the other two were res­cued by the Coast Guard.

 

All four of us should have drowned,” he said before going on to describe how a dra­matic effort by the Coast Guard saved their lives.

 

Scott enrolled at the for­mer Mount Ver­non Nazarene Col­lege. At what is now a uni­ver­sity, he was reunited with for­mer GHS team­mates Jeff Fis­cher and Glen Noggle.

 

The three of us even started some games together down there,” he said with a smile.

 

On March 1, 1978, Scott had a record-setting game for the Cougars. His 17 field goals against Grace Col­lege remain the school stan­dard nearly 35 years later.

 

But fur­ther­ing his edu­ca­tion still wasn’t a priority.

 

After drop­ping out again, he found him­self in trou­ble because of the demons from his teenage years that still con­trolled him — alco­hol and drugs.

 

In 1979, he joined the Marine Corps.

 

The first three years, “I really excelled,” he said. “I wanted to make a career of it. I still drank and did drugs a lit­tle bit. That was before the mil­i­tary started drug testing.”

 

After re-enlisting for another three years. It hap­pened. “It” being Scott was caught trans­port­ing drugs.

 

We were smug­gling drugs to Thai­land, Japan, and the Philip­pines,” he said. “It was easy money and secu­rity wasn’t as tight as it is now.”

 

He con­tin­ued, “I got caught in 1983 smug­gling 500 tabs of LSD from Cal­i­for­nia to Tokyo. I got caught in Tokyo. The guy I bought the LSD from in Cal­i­for­nia got caught and told on me, so they were wait­ing for me in Tokyo. I was con­victed and sen­tenced to five years in prison,” he added as he drew a breath and looked up toward the ceil­ing. “So, I went into a Japan­ese prison sys­tem that is not like the Amer­i­can prison sys­tem, to say the least. I was given a cou­ple of bowls of rice and a cou­ple of fish heads a day.”

 

After being released from prison, Scott did what Scott knew how to do best.

 

I got drunk,” he men­tioned while shak­ing his head. “Can you believe that?!?!?”

 

More years of poi­son­ing his body and mind via drink­ing and drugs fol­lowed. “I had some really good jobs, but the drugs and alco­hol still chased me around and haunted me.”

 

His life had bot­tomed out.

 

In 1990, I decided to com­mit sui­cide,” he stated. “I car­ried guns with me wher­ever I went. For some rea­son, I ended up at my Aunt Alice’s house. I began cry­ing and she started talk­ing to me about God and how much God loved me. I gave her all my guns, my sis­ter [Sara­beth] came and got me from Fort Wayne, Indi­ana and she took me to a place in Muskegon, Michi­gan called Teen Challenge.”

 

****

 

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shep­herd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scat­tered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will res­cue them from all places where they have been scat­tered on a day of clouds and thick dark­ness.” (Ezekiel 34:11–12)

 

Founded in 1958, Teen Chal­lenge is a Christian-based orga­ni­za­tion that spe­cial­izes in help­ing adults and youth who strug­gle with destruc­tive, life-controlling prob­lems. There are more than 200 res­i­den­tial cen­ters in the United States and inter­na­tion­ally — in excess of 1,000.

 

Doc­u­mented stud­ies done at North­west­ern and Ten­nessee uni­ver­si­ties, ver­ify that five years after grad­u­at­ing from the Teen Chal­lenge pro­gram, 86 per­cent of for­mer clients are free of sub­stance abuse, employed and reg­u­larly attend church.

 

Typ­i­cally, res­i­dents — who are admit­ted vol­un­tar­ily and referred to as “stu­dents” — stay for 13 months. Dur­ing their stay, they are not only coun­seled and treated for their prob­lems, they are min­is­tered to regard­ing their spir­i­tual walk. Many for­mer res­i­dents remain or return as vol­un­teers. In some cases, that leads to becom­ing full-time staff mem­bers. Such is the case with Scott.

 

****

 

“He has deliv­ered us from the power of dark­ness and con­veyed us into the king­dom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemp­tion through His blood, the for­give­ness of sins. (Colos­sians 1:13–14)

 

While a stu­dent at Teen Chal­lenge, Scott accepted Jesus Christ as his per­sonal sav­ior. “I devel­oped a per­sonal rela­tion­ship with God and my life changed,” he said with a wide smile. “He saved me. Jesus died for my sins, and I am for­given for all the bad things I’ve done in the past. It’s amazing.”

 

After his 13 months as a stu­dent, Scott said, “I had a car lot and was a part­ner in a mort­gage com­pany. I did vol­un­teer work then.”

 

But he wanted to do more at Teen Challenge.

 

I always hung around because I want to help peo­ple who have the kind of prob­lems I did,” he stated.

 

****

 

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to pros­per you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jere­miah 29:11)

 

In 2004, Scott received cre­den­tials and became an ordained min­is­ter. He even­tu­ally was named the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Teen Chal­lenge Cen­ter in Mid­land, Texas, and four years ago was a recip­i­ent of The Pres­i­den­tial Call to Ser­vice award. He was instru­men­tal in the rais­ing of $5.5 mil­lion in 3 1/2 years while in The Lone Star State.

 

The only way we get money is for peo­ple to give us money,” he mentioned.

 

Cur­rently, he is a senior pas­tor at Teen Chal­lenge in Lans­ing, Michi­gan. There are 20 staff mem­bers and all but one are Teen Chal­lenge grad­u­ates. Lans­ing is one of only five preg­nancy cen­ters in the country.

 

Scott spends a lot of time on the road, doing in excess of 100 speak­ing engage­ments a year, telling his story and shar­ing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

This is what I’m called to do,” he softly spoke. “I don’t have a lot of money, but I can’t imag­ine me doing any­thing else. God saved me and I want to share what He’s done for me with oth­ers because He can do the same for them.”

 

Sober for nearly 23 years, nonethe­less, his body has paid a heavy price for the decades of sub­stance abuse and his over­seas imprisonment.

 

I caught a virus while in prison in Japan,” Scott said. “I have a pace­maker and lost most of my toes. The virus and the abuse have taken a toll on me. I don’t get around as well as I use to, but God has given me the strength to do what I’m called to do.”

 

It was men­tioned ear­lier that a for­mer team­mate of Scott’s in high school and col­lege described Scott as “fun lov­ing” and easy going.” Jeff Fis­cher was recently told about Scott’s transformation.

 

I remem­ber Scott as we were close friends in high school and a year or two in col­lege due to the fact we played bas­ket­ball together for sev­eral years,” Jeff stated. “Our dads were also close as they worked together at the old Galion Iron Works.

 

Scott was always a ‘fun lov­ing’ easy going guy. I remem­ber well his com­pet­i­tive spirit, and he was a key com­po­nent of our bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onships (NOL and sec­tional) in 1974–75. I remem­ber to this day going to McDon­alds for lunch after Sat­ur­day morn­ing films and walk-throughs with Scott.”

 

Jeff added, “Our friend­ship con­tin­ued on at Mount Ver­non Nazarene Col­lege where we, along with for­mer Galion stand­out Glen Nog­gle, played for the Cougars. It was sad to watch Scott, with so much tal­ent and abil­i­ties, begin to slowly pull away from his good friends and make other ‘friends.’ It was obvi­ous they were a ter­ri­ble influ­ence on Scott and his pri­or­i­ties. Scott left school, and I totally lost con­tact with him at that point.”

 

But, through the won­der of inter­net tech­nol­ogy, the old friends have become reacquainted.

 

… I am so happy and relieved to now find the healthy, lov­ing, car­ing and God-centered man that Scott has become,” Jeff noted. “He is now giv­ing his life to the Lord, and help­ing so many peo­ple by his life and exam­ple. He is such an influ­encer, and he is doing that now for good. It is awe­some to have Scott ‘back.’”

 

Printed in the Galion Inquirer, October 27, 2012 (Galion, OH)

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