From alcohol, to drugs, to gangs, to prison – Howard Kahue, a leader at Rebuilders Addictions Ministry (RAM), has been through it all.
At first glance, you might not guess that Kahue, a deacon at Windward Baptist Church and a role model for the men at RAM, came from a nightmare of a past.
His past gives him credibility with the more than thirty-five male clients who are part of the program. Kahue leads the men by example and encourages them to seek God and stay sober. He believes that if God can change him then God can change anybody.
Kahue began his downward spiral at age nineteen. A family member offered him crystal methamphetamine, “ice,” at a party. “From the first time I tried it, I was hooked,” Kahue said. In reference to the strength of the addiction, he said, “I would put my life on the line for drugs any day of the week.”
Kahue’s life of drugs led him into gangs and crime. He joined a gang called Eighteenth Street. He said that the gang taught him how to steal from stores, get through alarm systems and burglarize homes without being detected. He also witnessed his best friend being shot and killed by a rival gang member.
After leaving the gang, he went into treatment because none of his family members wanted to take him in. “I felt like if I went to treatment, that would be my way of getting back in with my family,” he said.
Kahue went through fourteen different programs and detoxified from drugs forty-four times. However, he continued on in his drug abuse. Depending on the stages of his life, his drug of choice ranged from crank and crack cocaine to shooting up heroine and ice with needles.
For about a year and a half he injected ice daily. “I don’t hardly remember anything from that year and a half,” he said. “I was shooting up ice badly. I don’t even know how I’m still alive.” At the end of the year and a half, he robbed a restaurant and held the manager hostage. He went to prison, where he looked at facing twenty years.
Since the defendant died while Kahue was in prison, the charges were dropped and he was released. When he came out of prison he met Jodi, his wife, at a bar. As they got to know each other, she inspired him to quit drugs. “I felt that I finally found something that was more important to me than drugs,” Kahue said.
Kahue then went into Hina Mauka, a drug rehab program, and was clean and sober for over a year. He became a leader and example for others, but he did not have God in his life.
A year later, he drank and did drugs for three months straight. “I started doing criminal activities again,” Kahue said. He said that Jodi stayed with him throughout everything. She gave him money so that he would not steal from other people. “I depleted Jodi’s account of $20,000. I used to call her to tell her that I pawned her jewelry. She would then go back and buy her jewelry from the pawn shop.” Kahue continued, “I started bringing people that I used to lead, back into drugs. I messed some people up really bad.”
Kahue heard about RAM from a friend and decided to try it. He stayed in the program for five hours and left. However, he went back a couple days later and stayed.
When he came into the program, Akana said, “I knew from the first time I met Kahue that there was something special about him.” He continued, “I saw his potential, his personality, his heart, and his desire. I went the extra extra mile to get him to come into the program, which I normally don’t do.”
Kahue said that Pastor Akana made the difference between RAM and the other programs. Akana took Kahue with him wherever he went. Kahue watched Akana’s life and was inspired to change. “He had an inner strength that wasn’t violent or threatening, but loving. He had a love for the Lord that I didn’t understand. I wanted that,” Kahue said.
About a week or two after joining RAM, Kahue put his faith in Jesus Christ. “It was a drastic change for me,” Kahue said. “I quit drugs and stopped swearing. I am more aware of how I act.” He also said that another major difference in his life is that he feels badly when he does wrong.
His values took a sharp turn as well. “So many things mattered to me before that had to do with drugs and standard of living. I got all the drugs and all the girls and all the whatever,” Kahue explained. “Now the only thing that really matters to me is what the Lord, my wife, and my peers think of me.”
Now, at age 36, Kahue desires to be a servant to the men in RAM and be an example of how the Lord can change lives. Tom, a client in RAM, said that Kahue has greatly influenced his life. “I like his attitude, his whole outlook on the RAM ministry, and his focus on God. I like the energy that he brings in wanting to serve God and be of service to us,” Tom said.