National Lutheran News

God “zapped this student”

Zach Davies is on his way to Princeton Seminary

Zach Davies is on his way to Princeton Seminary

Zach Davies was once caught in heroin addiction.

He was “zapped by God.” That’s what Zach Davies said his mother would say about how his life has dramatically changed. Two years ago he was a heroin addict. This May he graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, with a full-ride scholarship to Princeton Theo-logical Seminary in New Jersey.
Davies struggled with addiction for five years in his native state of Texas. His mother suggested he move to San Francisco two years ago, hoping a change of environment would help him kick his addiction.

But it didn’t work.

A heroin addict, Davies suddenly came to the realization he needed to do something drastic, or else start planning his funeral. So, he checked himself into a halfway house. While there, he learned about the Augsburg College StepUP Program.

StepUP is the only program of its kind in the country, designed to help traditional college age students who are addicted deal with sobriety issues and also succeed academically.

Before coming to Augsburg, Davies was in and out off our colleges. He credits God, and the StepUP program, and Augsburg College for the fact that he finally graduated this past spring.

He completed his course work at Augsburg with a major in religion and a minor in psychology. With a full-tuition scholarship to Princeton Seminary, he plans to earn the Master of Divinity degree and become an ordained Presbyterian pastor.

“It hurt to live the way I was living,” Davies said, adding, “The last two years have been the best in my life.”
Davies gives high marks to StepUP Program director Don Warren. According to Davies, Warren told him, when he came to Augsburg, that he could succeed “as long as he let himself.”

The recent graduate said being at the ELCA college helped him to focus on values for life he would not otherwise have found. These included a person and a place willing to help him, and a community that could relate to what he had been through.

He said many of the students on the Lutheran college campus have a lot of faith, and “being with kids who have developed their faith in their youth, we can learn from them as we develop our faith and spiritual lives.”

Said Davies, “I needed to trust and be willing to do what they said, to help me succeed in order to become a productive citizen of Augsburg, the community, Minneapolis, life — as opposed to being a destructive citizen. There is always help as long as you are willing to surrender.”

Why did Davies choose a religion major? “I shouldn’t be alive,” he said. “Every year I’m alive is a gift.”
Besides, he said he made a “bargain with God.” He decided that, if God helped him, he would turn the rest of his life over to helping others, to doing good work and being good to others.