Spiritual Calling From Within

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, receives Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, July 22, 2009. AP Photo/SANA

The Early Show's Los Angeles based contributor, Steve Hartman, didn't have to travel far to provide the next installment of "Everybody Has a Story," after a randomly thrown dart landed on his home state. But the man he met came a very long way in an effort to turn his life around.

High up in the San Bernadino Mountains, a new batch of kids had just arrived at the Thousand Pine Chrisitian Camp.

For those who make it past the parking lot, it will no doubt be an unforgettable week.

"Are you still eating weird things," questioned one counselor to a camper.

Counselor Brent Wisdom is the activity coordinator for the camp. "You've gotta like kids, because if you don't this could be the worst job you've ever had," says Wisdom.

Wisdom is also an ordained minister. For the last three years, he has been entrusted with the religious education of hundreds of young people.

It is ironic, considering his nickname in high school was Satan.

"I've done an about face," explains Wisdom. "I [was] going in one direction and I turned around and went the other direction."

Before life ministry, there was Death Metal. Wisdom was lead screamer and he said the only thing lower than his vocals were his morals.

"I was just stoned all day," said Wisdom.

Wisdom's parents divorced when he was 7, leaving his workaholic father, Doug, to raise him alone.

"You know, he was off doing his thing and I was busy doing my thing and we'd pass and wave. And I lost track of where he was in high school, basically," recalls Doug.

Left alone, Wisdom went with the wrong crowd. Then five years ago, he says, God reached out and touched his soul - and his esophagus.

To a lot of people, acid reflux is not a spiritual thing. But for Wisdom, it was.

Partly because Wisdom had no idea what his abnormal feeling was and partly because he was drunk and high as usual, Wisdom interpreted this simple medical malady a little differently than most.

"I could see the flames of hell gripping for my soul. Like I'm going to hell, that's it, period," said Wisdom.

It was all the wake-up call he needed. Wisdom quit drugs, drinking, smoking and swearing. He joined a church and married his live-in girlfriend — all within two weeks.

Wisdom admits Mylanta would have been easier.

But today, Brent and his wife Katie have a 2-year-old boy and a new baby girl. Although he hasn't walked a strange path to get to his current life, Wisdom is convinced that his reflux is behind him and redemption is straight ahead.

  • Rome Neal

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