Jacob and Mel Hill with son Caleb
The high risk lifestyle of crime, violence and drugs Jacob had loved was not
As a boy Jacob Hill had promised himself that he would never smoke or drink,
much less use drugs, but by age 21, his affection for illicit substances was
so powerful that he knew only rehab could sever him from it.
“As much as I wanted to get out of the ‘game’, this life of
gangs, crime and drugs, I loved it,” Jacob admits. “I loved the
violence, the excitement and I loved getting high.”
He had chosen to go down this road at age 12.
“Dad was my hero and I saw his cheating on Mum as a
decision to abandon all of us,” he explains. “I thought I was of
no value to him and consequently that I was of no value at all.”
Upset that a disease in his knees prevented him from joining a hockey
identification program, he began hanging out with his oldest brother’s
mates. They taught him graffiti, how to use a knife in fights with other gangs
and the ‘liberation’ of smoking pot.
For the first time since his parents had separated, Jacob felt free. Before
long he was selling drugs to get his next ‘hit’ and involved in
street fights regularly.
“I thought I had everything that I wanted out of life — as much
drugs as I could use and respect from people on the street,” he
“But, then, there were other times that I despaired of life. All I could
see for my future was drug addiction. I believed, ‘Once a junkie, always
At the end of his rope, Jacob began to turn his mind back to the God he had
learnt about in church as a child, but changed his mind, believing that he was
too far gone, and a loving God would have done something about the bad things
happening to him and his family.
Jacob took a fatal cocktail of drugs and then slit his throat and wrists. When
this failed he was admitted into a psychiatric institution, but soon after his
release he overdosed on morphine and spent a week in a coma.
“It was and still is sobering to think that the reason I am alive is
because another drug addict died and when I was going the same way my friend
knew to phone for an ambulance immediately,” he says.
Even as people repeatedly told him that “You have Somebody up there
looking after you”, Jacob thought, “If there was anybody ‘up
there’ He sure as hell didn’t care about someone like
At 19, he could not see the point in living.
“One night, while ‘tripping’ I almost
cracked my skull on a stair bannister. I was OK with dying. I had wanted to
die for a few years by now and had tried to overdose many times. I had long
since stopped looking before crossing the road hoping that a truck would run
Jacob and Mel’s wedding day
Not long afterwards, Jacob decided to try rehab. “I figured I would go
and ‘dry out’, get my tolerance down and for a while everything
would be cheap again.”
When he was refused admittance, Jacob hit rock bottom.
“In anguish, I looked up as to pray,” he vividly
recalls. “But I didn’t see any God.
“Getting better was really important to me now. Even though I still
didn’t believe I could be ‘fixed’ there was a strange
urgency for me to try. I became worried that I might die before I got help. I
decided that I didn’t want to die anymore.”
Jacob was admitted into a Christian-based drug rehab called Teen Challenge in
Esperance, Western Australia. It was a painful process as he detoxed and
emotions he had suppressed came out.
“The last time I had let myself cry was when I was 13. I had made the
decision that I was not going to let anyone hurt me ever again — not
Shonn, not losing a pet, not my Mum and definitely not my Dad.”
Now, as Jacob prepared to answer the question, he would be leaving everything
he knew behind: Did he want Jesus Christ to become the leader of his life?
Jesus said that whoever believed in Him “would not perish but have
(John 3, verse 16), and “if you confess with
your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from
the dead, you will be saved”
Jacob recalls: “I was hesitant to let go of the right to live my life
how I wanted, with no thought of consequences. I knew that Jesus would not be
cool with that.
“Eventually I decided that I had nothing to lose. I made the decision
that I was going to let Jesus be the leader of my life — live the way
that He did, and the way He asks us to.”
This decision changed Jacob’s life forever. As the Holy Spirit gave Him
the power and desire to obey God, he began to read the Bible and pray while
completing his time at Teen Challenge. When he graduated he became a mentor to
other men who like him had the mentality ‘once a junkie always a
junkie’. He then met and married his wife and together they answered
God’s calling to pastor Grace Chapel (Perth).
Jacob in hospital in a coma
“I was able to forgive Dad for letting us down when I was a young boy,
almost ten years earlier. By forgiving my Dad I was able to stop hating myself
for being helpless and useless,” he enthuses.
“Since I was 13, all I wanted to be was a gang member people
wouldn’t mess with and high all the time. Years ago I had once told my
Mum that I didn’t have any ambition apart from that. She told me that if
I aimed low enough I was sure to achieve my goal.
“I have since raised the bar, now my goal is to help protect young
people from the lie that if they don’t try everything out there, they
are missing out, and tell them the truth- that ultimate life is only found in
walking in relationship with God, through Jesus Christ,” Jacob
Jacob’s book, Kids at War: Winning the Battle to Grow Up, is
available at jacobhill.com.au