Healthy Faith
May 4, 2022

How A Drug-Dealer/Pimp/Gang-Member Found A Better Life | Sean DeMars

Sean DeMars drug-dealing dad got his drug-addict mom pregnant. He was physically & sexually abused.

Sean DeMars drug-dealing dad got his drug-addict mom pregnant. He was physically & sexually abused. He became an addict and drug-dealer himself. He got into guns and gangs to protect his money and supply. He became a pimp as well.

Sean's life continued to downward spiral as he was almost killed by other gangs, suicidal with no hope. One day, Sean dropped to his knees and cried out to God to help him. He passed out and woke up in his bed. He didn't have any craving for drugs or alcohol or sex. He knew God has changed him and made him a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Today, Sean is married with 2 children, and a pastor in Alabama. Sean's life is filled with love, hope, joy and a passion to help others find the true life-changing love and power of Jesus. Listen to Sean's amazing story that he shares with Michael as he went from a fatherless abusive home life to becoming a loving father and husband whose life has been completely redeemed and restored. @DefendandConfirmPodcast @RoomforNuance


SEAN'S PODCASTS: Defend And Confirm Podcast | Room For Nuance Podcast

SEAN'S CHURCH: 6th Ave Community Church

How A Drug-Dealer/Pimp/Gang-Member Found A Better Life | Sean DeMars

MIKE STANSBURY: Hello everybody! Mike Stansbury here with the Iron Deep Podcast. I have a special guest today. His name is Sean DeMars. He's got a new book out called "Rebel To Your Will." We're going to talk about that today on the Iron Deep Podcast. Sean... before we get started, we're going to talk about the book. But tell our audience a little bit about you. What you do for a living and... and all the things. Your family. Give it to us. -

SEAN DEMARS: Yeah my name is Sean DeMars. I am a pastor of 6th Avenue Community Church in Decatur, Alabama. I have a wife, Amber. Two daughters, Patience and Isabella. And when I'm not pastoring or doing other Ministry related things, I'm pretty mediocre at Jiu-Jitsu and Crossfit. That's what I like to do in my free time. -

MIKE STANSBURY: Okay so, I don't want to go off on a... on left field or rabbit hole. But when did you start jiujitsu? When... did that whole thing start? -

SEAN DEMARS: About six years ago. -

MIKE STANSBURY: Okay. So what... what's the color of the belt? -


MIKE STANSBURY: Brown. Okay. Okay, I tried to do this about 6 months ago. I'm almost 50, and it's... it's sketchy, cuz I get... it's a combat sport. And... sometimes... I'll go over there, and it's been six months. I told them I'd come back. I had a little back injury. I'm sure you're familiar with injuries with the sport. But I... you know when you wrestle or when you spar with... younger men, they tend... they tend to want to just break you. So I've got a... I've got to figure out how to... how to filter that. Anyway, that's great. And Crossfit for a while. ...How long you've been doing CrossFit? -

SEAN DEMARS: Probably about a decade. -

MIKE STANSBURY: All right. Cool. Is all right. ...That's what you do in your spare time. Now you mentioned your daughters. You have a daughter named Patience. Tell me about that. Does... does the name fit the uh... is she patient? You know? Tell me... tell me about that. -

SEAN DEMARS: Yeah no... God had a plan for our lives, and we could not have seen it coming. You know? Amber and I, my wife, we always just thought if we ever have a baby girl, we like that name. And... yeah, it proved to be prophetic. Yes. -


SEAN DEMARS: Yeah it's one of those things where people, when they... when you say "Hey pray for... pray for patience." My wife always tells me "be careful... be careful of that... cuz God will give you a bunch of stuff that He's going to test you in." So... -

MIKE STANSBURY: That's great. So two daughters. Amber your wife. And how long have you been Pastor in the the church over there in... at 6th Avenue? -

SEAN DEMARS: For seven years. -

MIKE STANSBURY: Okay. And... how... how has that progress been? You starting seven years ago, and where has God taken that church today? Give us a little bio on the church. -

SEAN DEMARS: So it's a church revitalization. There are basically two ways you can plant a church. One is you can kind of parachute in and say we're a church. Come and be a part of us. You evangelize and you do all that stuff. Another way is you go to a church that's basically about to die and you try to save it from within. And that's what we did with Sixth Avenue. It was a Church of God Church, which is pretty wonky in a number of different ways. So... when I got to that church, I said it was doctrinally apathetic, relationally vacuum sealed, and evangelistically inept. And... and then that was on top of some other bad stuff. And by God's grace, seven years later, it's none of those things. Well we recently had a church fire so on January 1st our our our building caught fire and uh we've lost it um we might get it back we're trying to figure that out right now but when I got to the church we had a building but no gospel now we have the gospel but no building and yeah this is an infinitely better position to be in. -

MIKE STANSBURY: Wow! What how that is that's wild how God works he inverted it didn't He? um all right so the book uh "Rebel to Your Will" uh I read it in one setting I always love uh biographies and this was one that really I had to pause probably seven or eight times uh because I I know you uh like I know any social media friend you know I just I have I think we're friends on Facebook I've seen you uh I've I've listened to defend and confirm uh and room to room for nuance your both your podcast that you do and I highly recommend that you guys check those out. -

SEAN DEMARS: They're really really great for liberals the other for conservatives.

MIKE STANSBURY: That's right it's that Nuance um so the uh it's very very very very good he said he um Sean uh has has had some great uh guests on his show uh but I've had to pause it a couple times because the story I just had to match it up I was like okay uh cuz again I I love origin stories and yours is um is is is unique uh and I had to pause it a couple times and uh uh uh and just stop and think through how uh both um that it's wild that you were able to walk through all that pain um and how gracious and good God is that he he did that uh that he that and then you give him you know all the glory for um what what had happened so with that being said walk us through you know your childhood what was what was a childhood like uh for SEAN DEMARS.

SEAN DEMARS: Yeah so uh I I I I grew up with a drug addict and alcoholic mother mother never knew my father he the way the story was told to me was that my mom was a drug addict in the 80s in La my dad was a drug dealer got her pregnant didn't stick around uh and you know my earliest memory is uh being molested and and sort of from there fast forward until like 12 or 13 when I was basically old enough to stop I was abused in pretty much every way you can imagine you know sexually physically emotional and uh yeah I mean it was really hard it was really tough uh I spent maybe half of the time that I should have spent in school the other half of the time I I wasn't able to be in school we lived in a pretty rough part of uh LA and then when we lived in San Diego a rough part of San Diego uh yeah really isolated um uh on top of all that stuff I was the fat kid so you know even when I would be at school it it wouldn't be you know had to deal with all the bullying stuff so yeah it was just really unpleasant a lot of it but looking back on it from from the perspective from the other side of the cross I see that the Lord was just using all of that to break me to get me humble to make me desperate to give me a father hunger uh so that when when the time was right yeah I saw the gospel as something that I very much needed and I wouldn't I wouldn't change any of it right um and that that theme um in your book The the pacing of your book is one of and I know it had to be intentional and it was very very good is Sean talks about his pain of childhood and then you fast forward into your life now uh with your daughters um tell us about like what's daily life like with your with your girls and how different is it from how you grew up yeah you know I've been thinking about this a lot recently my 12-year-old daughter was outside playing uh like dolls with my 10-year-old daughter the other day and I just remember thinking at 12 years old how different my life was not even just like the things that I had suffered versus what she has to suffer which is basically not much um but even just like at 12 years old the way that I talked the way that I was thinking I mean I I cussed I was sexually active and it's that's not untypical these days and uh and I was thinking I'm so happy that my daughters get to be children you know they're not I remember I started having to like carry my mother home when she would get too drunk when I was like 10 you know and my daughter's just never have to do that they never have to like take care of me they never have to take care of their mom they just get to be kids sometimes I am a little worried that uh you know they're they're uh I'm worried a little bit about them being spoiled right enough to like intentionally make their lives difficult you know but uh coming from that and seeing how all those struggles and trials helped Forge a kind of character in Me by God's grace I am a little worried like ah we need to make sure that we're developing character in you I think we are it's just it's just it just it looks different right because you have you have that filter of of how you grew up uh I I totally understand that my kids similar they grow up very different I grew up in a a nominal uh well my mom was a a Roman Catholic and my dad was too we go to mass every Sunday um but it wasn't um uh I didn't um it it was church on Sundays right it wasn't a living faith it wasn't wasn't necessarily a living faith um I I I learned all the basics about Jesus and and the Roman catechism uh but it wasn't uh it didn't it didn't take uh and you know I've got four children and uh they grow up radically well not they up different than than what we did and that was my fear as well so we've been kind of intentional about showing them things it's not hard actually because I live in Memphis you live in Alabama we we show them things that have happened up in M Memphis where they can really get an idea of how yeah the balance how how life is for other folks and how um um it's always good so here here's one thing uh we were very we very when the kids were younger we we wouldn't let them spend the night out at anybody's house um there were a couple people that we we completely trusted and but they got to see how another family lived and it was it was different than ours and they always came back with a better like a perspective like this this this house is awesome like it would it this you know we were really glad that you know we don't have to deal with some of the other stuff uh that they have to deal with or when they would visit other people's um different household cultures um so but yeah I to totally get that so the book again goes back and forth of uh and and and that's the other thing that you put in each chapter um is the dichotomy of of how you lived and now how you're living now and how it's it's it's just a wondrous of of God's grace how you at 12 would be different way different than how your how your daughters are so you guys went to uh lived in California and then you moved to Alabama as a teenager uh when as a teenager and as you're suffering through some of the pain that's you're going through in the house uh what was your high school life look like and and what what did adolescence up till uh early adulthood look like for you yeah I didn't really have much of a high school experience I got I got kicked out for selling drugs and assaulting a fellow student uh basically between the ages of 14 and 18 I was incarcerated or institutionalized in one way or another I was I sent multiple stints in Mental Hospitals I was sent to a Wilderness facility which not many people know what that is it's basically like jail on a mountain uh I went to a bad kids boot camp like you remember mike pich the show where those guys come and yell at kids and take them away that's went I went through that uh halfway houses rehab facilities and anytime I would get out of one I would you know try to resolve to do a little better and then it would get worse uh everyone thought that they had the answer to the problem you know it was uh the the answer is talk therapy or psychotropic medication or more discipline and you know none of it worked none of it stuck 12-step programs none of it worked yeah so my my childhood was pretty all over the place my my teen years were pretty all over the place I I uh didn't get a high school diploma still don't have one you know uh oh I was at Job Corp that's another thing that people don't really have you ever heard of Job Core no tell me about Job Core it's like a government funded vocational training program for basically anyone who can't cut it in public schools which is pretty bad yeah so it's basically like a hub of gang activity and I'm I'm not even joking so I went to the one in Boeing Green Kentucky which is uh it's like it's you know pretty equidistant to everyone where else in the country so people come up from Miami New York you know they go from all over there and I think I saw more Gang Related violence at Job Corps than I saw in the county jail when I was incarcerated you know so yeah that was pretty wild so yeah teenage years were pretty all over the place I I became a drug dealer as a teenager I started off by like... Do you remember... how old are you?


SEAN DEMARS: Do you remember after school specials?

MIKE STANSBURY: Yes ABC after school specials?

SEAN DEMARS: Yeah like don't don't do drugs and here's a here's a movie that we made that will help you not do drugs so I mean it was like an after school special like I started smoking cigarettes and then I started smoking weed and then I needed money to buy more weed so I started selling drugs but then I got robbed so I got a gun and I joined a gang you know it just kind of kept going from there when I was 17 I became a pimp uh not I I I wasn't pursuing it I sort of stumbled into it because I was dealing crystal meth and uh yeah yeah so I ended up getting saved at 18 but it was a pretty wild ride up to that point yes uh you've lived like a thousand lives up until this point so you've had a you've had a Nemo um so you you got to see how our prison system work uh it's really not not Redemptive at all uh and you got to see um wow you got to see a lot so now take me 18 you're saved how did that whole thing happen and what was life like immediately after after God got a hold of you yeah so I got into it with some guys who were more gangster than me and they were trying to kill me and I was running for my life kind of zonked out of my mind on meth and I needed I had a gun these were several guys with several guns so I thought I needed more guns so I went and I robbed I used to mess with this girl and I knew that her dad had a gun cabinet and I knew how to break into it so I kicked in their door broke into the gun gun cabinet stole all his guns later that night I passed out in a parking lot with a trunk full of guns I woke up to a cop uh tapping on my window you know so I ended up U being arrested was facing 20 years in prison I got accepted into a program which uh one of the nice things about Alabama and the Bible Belt in general is that there are all these faith-based programs that can help alleviate some of the burdens of the social system of the legal system and so at least at this time judges were happy to kind of give people another chance if you complete this program you won't have to go to prison or whatever the case may be so I got accepted in this program and it was a Christian program and I just pretended to be a Christian because I didn't want to go to prison and so I started like you know we'd be in church and I'd just watch what people did and I would mimic you know we say hallelujah now we raise our hands all this stuff uh I even started like giving my testimony so the way that this program that I was in the way that they would raise money is they would go go from church to church and people would stand up and share their testimony and then people would give a love offering and that would keep the program going so I started sharing my testimony and they started putting a microphone in my hand more and more often and I became the closer you know I'm I'm giving this big dramatic spiel about how God and this program that changed my life but like I would be doing bumps of cocaine in the bathroom before I went out on stage you know or sneaking girls in or getting into fights or whatever the whatever the you know soup of the day was and then one day I tried to kill myself but I didn't have the the balls to pull it off and so I went deep into a depression but they made me go to church that night you know I've been to maybe a hundred church services uh came home got into a fight with a guy got kicked out of the house was I was going to go to prison I ran away and uh while I was running down the road I collapsed and uh I just cried out to God in sheer desperation and very anticlimactically nothing happened you know I I wish I could tell you that like the the clouds parted and a voice from Heaven you know spoke to me like Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration but it didn't happen I just sort of laid there depressed waiting to be run over or picked up by the sheriff when neither of those things happened uh I basically went back to the house that we call it the house it was a a program run out of a house I went back to the house and and uh asked if I could just go to sleep I was so depressed I just didn't care if I lived or died I just wanted to go to sleep and I thought when I woke up I was going to be taken by the sheriff uh you know to be taken away but when I woke up I was a Christian you know how exactly that came to be I'm not I'm not sure the Lord does his own you know the wind is hard to wrap your mind around but I had probably heard the gospel a thousand times up to that point and the seeds were there and the Lord just used that so when I woke up I mean I went to bed loving money and and and and women and myself and I woke up and I was just a completely different person so that was I'm 37 now that was 18 when I was 18 yeah wow um and you know shortly thereafter in the book you uh you start preaching the gospel you start going out and you didn't know what you were doing like no one does no one does like when they when they first get saved unless they grow up in a home uh unless they're unless they're trained um and you meet your wife Amber uh and uh then the the other part of the book which is which I I understand exactly I I may um I I get now why why Doctrine and is so important to you mentioned it at the beginning regarding your church um but you fell into some some doctrinal issues you fell fell into the Prosperity Gospel um tell us about that yeah so basically I tried to go to church I didn't know much but I knew that I needed to go to church so uh the first couple of churches that I I went into I had some pretty bad experiences you know imagine a guy who was a drug dealer like like a week ago looks like a drug dealer Walks Like a drug dealer talks like a drug dealer dresses like a drug dealer and then he goes into like a very traditional Southern Baptist Church you know that's not traditional in the best sense of the term like you know traditional like squishy SBC stuff it's just not going to go over super well so I mean one time I went I went to this Baptist Church and I had an old man come up to me you know I had like a fitted hat pulled down low and and uh the guy comes up to me and goes son you take that hat off in the Lord's House you know and I was just like oh I'm not coming back you know this is crazy and I had no formation I had no discipleship I didn't know what it meant to bear with one another in love or anything like that and uh but what happened was I had like this big exciting scary testimony so these youth pastors would bring me in and they would have me uh you know share my testimony which I didn't know what that meant I would just go up there and War story for 45 minutes but they loved it so I kind of went on this little mini circuit uh of preaching at these youth groups but the same thing always happened they would be happy for me to come and do my thing but then after youth group I'd be like so what's next and they'd be like you can go now uh so I just struggled to find a church home to find discipleship to find love really from other Christians and so the first person to really like take me in and do what Christians should be doing uh was a guy who was in the Prosperity Gospel and I didn't know any better but I was I was literally walking around one summer in the housing projects with my shirt off with a Bible in my hand wrapping to neighborhood children as like my form of evangelism and he saw me do that and he pulled me over and he said do you have any idea like what you're doing and I was like no I don't and so he taught me the Bible except that he didn't he taught me a false gospel and uh yeah so that was how I got involved in the Prosperity Gospel and so walk me through how do you how do you realize that you're you're in that um that that that uh you know what did God do to say hey Sean we got to draw you out of here um how did you how did you manage to um Escape out of that Doctrine yeah so I we were really poor I led my wife to the Lord by God's grace uh the Lord used her Crooked Stick to draw a straight line she got saved we got married we were really struggling ended up joining the military and went to basic training and AIT which is like your job training in the Army and then uh got stationed in in Seattle Fort Lewis and wow what a terrible place to be so I spent a lot of time on the internet Myspace if anybody even knows what that is anymore I'm familiar and man somebody uh posted a Paul waser video one day and we've we all have our first Paul Washer video story you know uh and it blew me away and then that took me the algorithm even in its rudimentary form back then took to a John Piper video and that was kind of the beginning of the end he was preaching against the Prosperity Gospel and I was like who does this idiot John Piper I think he is this guy has no idea what he's talking about I was Furious but I I couldn't something happened you know I was like man this dude really knows how to handle the word he's wrong about this but I found myself wanting to go back more and more because Joel Olin wasn't preaching like that Kreflo Dollar wasn't preaching like that and that was kind of the beginning of the end you know he would RC Sproll and I would buy an RC Sproll book and read that and RC Sproll would quote someone and I'd go buy another book by them and yeah then it all kind of unravel the Avalanche happened didn't it yeah it's reformed was another Avalanche yes yeah you you got a hold of Calvin's institutes and all the things and yeah I can I understand and it's really interesting because when you mentioned that in your book I immediately myself I went back 10 15 years and I would be on the internet I would I think Desiring God was kind of out in front on some things and um they would get into my um uh I would I'd be I I've probably watched some of the same uh um videos and and sermons from Piper and he really got me um out of some he really answered a lot of questions for me and help helped me on the path so uh God bless John Piper and and RC and Paul, Paul waser not Paul Walker Paul waser yeah maybe him too or Paul yeah he's gone but uh yeah but he was got blessings his family um and so that leads me into now so you're now a pastor um and now you have these these uh to podcast um defend and confirm I'm very familiar with because I've watched a lot I've watched a couple of room to Nuance but what is the type of of content that you guys are wanting to produce for for both podcasts um and tell me how how that all got started yeah defend and confirm is an apologetics podcast I did it with Russell berer he was on the American gospel as well he was one of the key guys who came to help us do the church revitalization uh seven years ago I met Russell a little bit before that we were both doing evangelism outside of the abortion clinic and we realized that of the like 10 people who were out there we were the only ones who were preaching the gospel so we uh we kind of quickly connected and then we've had that relationship we taught a Sunday school apologetics class in our church together and people were like wow you guys are really good together and we were good together outside of the abortion clinic we were good together in the Apologetics class we kind of balanced each other out and so uh yeah we've tackled things like critical theory not to sound like a hipster but we we did it before it was cool we we're kind of a little a little ahead of the curve on that and a lot of people out there talking about wokeness don't actually understand what they're talking about so so if if anyone of your viewers is interested uh we do I think a nine-part series on critical theory and then we tackled like church planning movement stuff which is like a really dangerous my mythological Trend uh and and we're tackling like Neuro Divergence right now so anyways we're trying to get in we're trying to have it be like a Sunday school class here are things that are threats to the gospel that we don't want you just to like listen to 20 minutes on we we want you to really go deep with us on this like pretend that we have eight weeks together in a Sunday school room let's really try to understand what this stuff is and then there's room for nuance room for nuance uh actually came about because I was being interviewed on another podcast about critical race Theory and I said hey just so you know we have about 20 minutes and I said well that's not very much time mean critical race theory is incredibly complicated like you know uh you have to parse out a lot of stuff to be careful and so that's kind of where Nuance came from right like oh okay anytime whether you're talking about the Trinity or complementarianism or God sovereignty and human responsibility you have to very finely parse out the details of the truth not not to move away from truth but to get closer to the truth so we can get more and more clear as we go and so uh I just said yeah like let's let's do that let's have subject matter experts you know who have spent years studying these things let's bring them on and let's give them time to talk about these incredibly complex subjects so you know we had Matthew Martins on to discuss about reforming criminal justice well this is a guy who's been one of the top 100 lawyers in our country for the last 20 years and he went to Seminary I don't want to give him 30 minutes to talk about criminal justice stuff. I want to give him three hours. And he took three hours. You know?So anyways. that that's how that came about as well

MIKE STANSBURY: Wow! It's great. It's... topics that think deserve that amount of attention uh where one of the things I love long form um podcast uh because I like to uh do just that is go okay I don't know I know what I know surface level stuff and I may think that I I may have a little inch of Pride and think I know how the justice system works and then I'll watch something like that and go oh I I have no clue I have no clue uh what that's how I felt reading the book I read I read this book and I was like oh yes um and so so it's interesting that um so I really recommend guys that you check out those podcast uh check out defend and confirm um and uh get his book it's on Amazon it's on you can get it on your Kindle and you can get the hard copy and um uh so Sean um again final thoughts here about uh "Rebel to Your Will" um you know God's goodness God's um bringing you out of uh a really tough tough childhood um you know some of the men that we so some of our audience a lot of our audience are Christian men or uh that are uh in business and um some of them have grown up with maybe similar stories um and um and some of our audience are not Christians and kind of present the gospel how was the how is the gospel how would Sean DeMars uh present the gospel to kind of close us out uh on the Iron Deep Podcast. -

SEAN DEMARS: Yeah so the the thing about "Rebel to Your Will" is I'm happy for any Christian to read it and to be edified I think if Christians love to hear other Christians testimonies whether it's I grew up in the church and I've always known the Lord that's such a fantastic testimony I want that for my children or if it's dramatic like mine um you know if if if anyone has wrestled with addiction or the absence of a of a father or abuse uh I think that they would profit from this book but I'm very clear in the book when talking about the gospel to say that at the end of the day all of our stories are the same Ephesians 2 says we were dead in our trespasses and sins in which we once walked following the prince of the power of the air the course of this world we were given over to the desires of the Flesh and the mind I mean it it's all the same it it may end up looking like uh being a [ __ ] on the street corner or it may end up looking like a housewife but at the end of the day both are dead in sin I think that's one of the main contributions of Tim Keller's Ministry the way he helped us better understand the parable of the Prodigal Son uh the younger son is really rebellious and says I don't care if you live or die just give me my money dad so I can go and spend it on on prostitutes and poor living but the older son at the end of the day proves that he only cares about his father's stuff too he says you gave you gave him the fat and calf you didn't even give me a goat and when he says that he shows like really he just wants stuff he wants what the father can give him he wants the gifts more than the giver and the way that he went about getting those things was through obedience staying home working hard I mean he was working in the field when the prodigal came home I like to talk about this like there's two different ways to rob a bank you know you can go in guns blazing and shoot up the place and get the cash or you can get a job and become a manager over the course of 20 years and get access to the to the Vault codes and and and play the long con both of them are the same thing just different expressions and so when when you read Ephesians 2 everyone is under that condemnation everyone is dead in sin and our Our Only Hope therefore is not within ourselves or to fix the system or to change this or change that any external thing our only help our only hope is to be helped by God who can come in and take our dead Stony hearts and bring them back to life again and uh that's the message of the Gospel is that incredibly God has offered to do that the more you try to do it the worse you're going to mess things up the more you let God do it the better things will be so turn from your sins trust in Christ for salvation and you will be made alive with him forever what a way to end it -

MIKE STANSBURY: Sean, thank you very much for your time sir. Check them out on Defend and Confirm and Room for Nuance. Sean DeMars, thank you very much. And guys, thank you guys for watching the Iron Deep Podcast. We'll talk to you soon.