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'God brought me out'

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POSTED: March 11, 2008 5:00 a.m.
Photo provided / Coastal Courier/

Johnny and Elsie Fleming

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In a short period of time, he has turned from being a drug dealer and user to becoming a man of God. For many years, he allowed drugs and the fast life to control him. Now he lets God control his life.
"My life is an open book. God has really brought me from a wrecked up life to a new life," Johnny Fleming said. "I was in prison four times for trafficking cocaine. The last time I was arrested, I was facing life in prison. However, by the grace of God and Him working through Judge Paul Rose, I was given another chance."
Now, the Rev. Fleming will tell you he has seen and experienced a lot of things in his life. But, he never thought God would turn his life around, and he would become a testimony to His goodness.
A 1967 graduate of the old Liberty County High School in Midway, Fleming spent two years in the military upon graduation.
"I was drafted into the Army in 1969 and went to Germany," he said.
"I started drinking when I went into the Army. While I was overseas, I did hash, opium, weed and heroin. One drug will lead to another. You get used to one thing, and then you want to go a little higher," Fleming said.
One drug, however, sealed his addiction.
"Crack is a mind drug. Before I knew it, I was craving it." Fleming said young people need to know the addiction of drugs.
"I was hooked for about 15 years."
Fleming has been incarcerated many times.
"I was in prison in Savannah, Reidsville, Milledgeville, Waycross, Valdosta, Mitchell County (near Albany) and Jackson State Prison. I went back and forth on drug charges and parole violation," he said. "When you take drugs or get involved with drugs, you will wind up in jail, prison or the graveyard."
Fleming said the prophet Jonah was disobedient and "God had him in the belly of a whale. I was disobedient and God had me in the belly of the Hinesville jail."
The last time he was in jail, in 1999, God radically changed his life. Instead of a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, Fleming received probation and a fine.
"Prior to going to court, I cried out to God, and He saved me, filled me with His Holy Spirit, and changed my life. Although I was still in jail, I was free in my spirit."
Fleming said within a week of being saved, he wrote the judge from jail and told him he was ready to do his time. But the judge sent a bondsman to sign his bond and he was released from jail.
"Since my release, I have been ministering and telling people about the goodness of God. I love trying to encourage young men, especially those in prison," Fleming said.
"If God did it for me, He can do it for them. I tell them about the destruction of drugs and how they take you down the wrong path. Instead of a crack high, they can stay high on the Lord. Christ is the substitute for crack addiction; He took the taste from me."
Today, Fleming is enjoying his freedom and sharing his testimony with others. He serves as the associate pastor at Riceboro Baptist Church under the leadership of the Rev. Edgar Timmons. He has been in the ministry for six years. He also has his own construction business.    
Fleming and his wife, Evangelist Elsie Fleming, love to give back to the community.
"God has blessed me," Fleming said.
During the Christmas holidays, the Flemings give baskets to the elderly in Liberty County.
"This year we gave 12 baskets, with cards and money," he noted. Every year at Christmas, they also help a family in need with food and items for the children.
The Flemings live in Hinesville, and are the parents of six children.
 

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