There is an old saying of seeing your life flash before your eyes. That’s what happened to Ben Fuller. He saw the funeral. He saw the line out the door. He saw his mom find him with a hole in his head. He saw it all. And then the gun fell from his hands. Ben Fuller will tell you that he has lived on the dark side but being a Christian and following Christ is one of the hardest choices he’s ever made. He’ll also tell you that it is worth it. Listen to his incredible story and check out upcoming tour dates at benfullerofficial.com!
Special thanks to our sponsor Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, who have been serving the homeless population and helping the lost become found for over 90 years. Our vision is to see every homeless neighbor — beloved, redeemed, restored. Find out more about them at ugm.org.
Purposely. Your life, God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com.
Ben Fuller: That old saying of seeing your life flash before your eyes… I did. I saw the funeral; I saw the line out the door. I saw my mom find me with a hole in my head. I saw the things. And the gun fell from my hands, and I still had no idea how, or who he was.
Narrator: We’ve all experienced it. You run into a friend from the past, but there’s something different. They are changed. Maybe there is a calm where there once was a storm. Maybe there is gentleness, instead of harshness. There’s a new passion, a new life. What changed? Welcome to brought Back to Life. A podcast where we explore stories of ordinary transformation.
Producer Luke: Hey, this is Luke, the producer here. Being vulnerable, falling through the cracks, needing help and finding redemption. Our sponsor, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission does just that. Stay tuned all the way to the end to hear about what they’re doing in our own backyard, and you won’t wanna miss it.
Ben Fuller: Hey there, my name is Ben Fuller, and this is my story of how Jesus brought me back to life. I was born and raised in a small town in Vermont, and my dad was a dairy farmer, and my mom was a schoolteacher. Vermont is 2% Christian. And growing up in church was something that I didn’t do, and something that wasn’t passed down from my grandpa to my dad, to me. And growing up on a dairy farm is hard work and it was a lot of work. And I was the only son, and so, there was a lot of pressure on me to to be the best and to work hard, regardless of know, whether I was tired or had football or all the things. But I remember from a very young age, I just wanted to seek my father’s approval. It was really hard because my dad had passed down this tough guy.
We were, yeah. If you’re a man, you’re strong and you show strength and you don’t show weakness and you don’t show emotion and all the things. So, my whole life I was raised with that. 16 years old, I had a gun in my mouth, and I didn’t wanna live anymore because I thought that nobody loved me. There was just a lot that had come to, to get me to that point. But you know that old saying of seeing your life flash before your eyes? I did. I saw the funeral; I saw the line out the door. I saw my mom find me with a hole in my head. I saw the things and the gun fell from my hands. And I still had no idea how, or who he was.
But at 18 I was introduced to cocaine and alcohol, and I spent most of my adult life using and running away. And, that was my escape and that was the way that I dealt with the guilt and the shame and not being able to share with my dad, or, have my dad say I love you when you really wanted to hear it the most. Or even that he was proud. And I got a degree landscape architecture. I fell in love with building stone walls. And it’s funny, I haven’t written the song yet, but I built walls my entire life. And I loved the feel of the stone and just working hard. And so, I would do that. But on the nights, I would get done on the weekends, I would party, and just waste my life away.
Had several relationships that really affected that. I met my best friend in 2009. In 2017, he died of a heroin overdose. My ex-girlfriend Caitlin, same situation, met her in 2015 and we had an amazing relationship, but it was fueled by drugs. And ended in 2016 and she had lost the baby. And it was just a lot of devastating things in my life that I was just tired of losing. And so, I had reached this point of, What’s next? Is this, it, is this my life? Am I just gonna go back to work as a stone mason and build walls? And so, I needed an outlet, and music for me has always been an outlet and I’ve always loved to sing. I’ve loved to sing from a very young age. And so, I picked up guitar in college for a little bit and had put that on the wall and in 2016/ 17, I had dusted that off after all these broken relationships and all this taking away from me.
And so, I started writing. I started writing about it, started talking about it. And I started February 25th was my very first 2017, was my very first show, I guess a show in a little dive bar called Sherry’s Place and packed the house. It was $300 in my guitar case. I was like, really awesome. I felt awesome. It was really cool. I felt like a big star, but the problem was I had about 15 beers lined up at the foot of my guitar case. I drove home drunk that night and don’t remember. And what it did was it started this tornado of playing shows and bars and restaurants and stuff, but I would leave just, and not remember getting home.
And again, that question came up. Is this it? Is this my life now? Is this what I’m gonna do? And the multiple relationships and, with women and just aimlessly drifting, I was making a great living, but I was just completely empty inside. And I started hearing whispers from people about moving to Nashville. And I finally had heard enough, where I was just like, you know what? Fine, I’m just gonna go. And so, in 2018 in the fall I had sold my house. I’d owned it for two years, and the house sold in one day. And it sold to a woman from Nashville, Tennessee. And I had no idea about divine appointments yet or anything, and I was like that’s a coincidence and maybe we could trade places and jokingly. And I came down here in the fall of 2018. I got a job working at Tootsie’s the famous honkytonk on Broadway. And along with that came just a lot of drinking and driving, a lot of just alcohol. And again, the same question after a year of playing on Broadway. Is this, it? Have I made it? And my dad was proud. He had finally said it, he was like, man, Ben went, he did it. He’s doing it. He’s becoming famous. He’s doing all these things. And I still had this feeling inside this isn’t it. This is not it.
And I remember one day I was driving home, I lived about 25 minutes from Lower Broadway in Nashville, Tennessee. my phone rang and I answered it, and it was a family from Vermont that had seen me a few times. I had landscaped with their son for a few times, and I hadn’t realized what the Davenport family had moved from Vermont to Nashville a year and a half before I even got here. God had sent him down here and they said, Hey, we’d like to know if you’d like to come over for dinner tonight. We got your number through a friend. We’re sorry we haven’t reached out before this. We’re excited to see you and. And I said, yeah, I, I would love to have a meal. I’m hungry. I, a man doesn’t turn down food. So, I was like, I gotta go. And I remember driving there that night and we had an amazing meal. And at the end of the meal, they asked me if I’d like to go to church with them the following morning. It was a Saturday night, I think I said yes with my mouth full. It struck me as well; I’ve got to pay them back for what they’ve done for me. So, I’ll just go with them and that’ll be that. It’s fine. What could it hurt? Its church, God knew exactly what he was doing.
And so, that next morning, nine 30 in the morning we drove over to church and church of the City and Franklin, Tennessee, and there were 3000 people in there in the fall of 2019. And I’d never seen a thing like it in my life. I’ve never been in I’d been into church for, I think, funerals and weddings, maybe in an Easter Sunday or two if my grandma had made us. But other than that, I, I can’t recall ever hearing the gospel preached, or anything about who Jesus was. God used the music again, and the music came into my heart, and I heard the bass, like the subwoofers from the auditorium, and it just, it was like a magnet.
And it just drew me in, and I couldn’t stop. And I remember leaving the family that I was with and just bee lined it for these auditorium doors and that were wide open, and I stood there in the aisle way and that’s where I heard the voice of God. And I heard, and I felt all at once that this is the kind of music that I’m gonna sing for the rest of my life. And I realized that he had given me my voice for this. And all in that moment, I just, I got mad, and I got happy, and I got sad, and I got everything. And I just said, Lord, take away this addiction. Take away the cocaine. Take away the alcohol. Take away the sex. Take away my swearing. All the things. If you’re even real, then do this for me.
Like I’m looking for a change. I need a change, god. If you’re real, just show me. I dare you. Like that kind of thing. It was probably two months. It had, fast forward about two months later, he just… I was drinking 15 beers a night, 12, 10, 4, 2, none. I don’t even like the taste of beer anymore. Not really sure what’s going on. I remember my friends were like, what the heck is the matter with you? And I started feeling guilty about swearing, and all these things just started changing in my life. And rededicated my life to the Lord in the celibacy department. And I was, I don’t even know what the heck I’m doing now but I know it’s right.
I had that feeling inside. It was like, I know it’s good. I know it’s right. He did it. And he was the common denominator. He was Jesus. That was the one name that came into my life and switched everything. And before he was a swear word in my mouth. And I realized who he was and what he can do.
He was the only explanation that I had for my change in behavior. And so that’s why I just owe him everything. And I’m sitting here with you today, three years and nearly two months clean and sober, because of what he’s done for me and the same celibate. And I’m 35 years old and none of this makes sense, but it’s the mystery of God that keeps me coming back for more. It’s the mystery of God that outweighs all the things that I’ve done, and I’ve tried and there’s no other way. And this is my favorite, my favorite scripture is in John six, Jesus is talking about all the disciples that have gone astray. All the followers that have taken other paths and other roads and other opportunities and other ways that were.
I remember he, I read he looked at the disciples and he said, are you guys gonna go too. Peter, I relate so much to Peter because I deny Jesus. I’ve denied him. I denied him yesterday. I’ve denied him so many times. I’ve avoided, saying something that I should have said because I was scared. And so, I relate so much to Peter. But Peter looked up at Jesus and he said, my Lord, to whom else shall we go? And that has never left me, and it will never leave me. And I just know that I’ve got nobody else to go to. And I’ve realized that the less I care about what people think about me, The less I care about other opinions and thoughts and people telling me what I should do or what I shouldn’t do… the better off that I’ve been.
And so, the more that I focus on Jesus, the more that I focus on what God says and what the Bible says, what his word says; it’s amazing the freedom, but also just the, the lack of worry that I have because it’s like you know what? I’m a child of the most high God and the most high God is for me.
And if I just be selfish with that and run with that, then nothing else really matters. And so, I’ve been able to, and I’ve been praying for this, and this may help you too, is praying for like spiritual blinders. And I picture myself as this beautiful Friesian horse, and you got the blinders on.
And it, for instance and I love the Amish, right? And I go to an ex-Amish church and in here in Tennessee, and it’s a really beautiful church, and it’s family and we share meals together and all the rest. But I think of that horse pulling the buggy down the side of the road and that Mack truck that’s coming, that you can hear, but you can’t see it. You’ve got the blinders on. You can hear it coming, but you can’t see it. And then it passes, and then you see it and you go, wow, it’s a good thing I didn’t see that coming, but I’m okay still. It passed me. I’m okay. It’s I think about that. If I see these things coming, if we pay too much attention to those things, then it distracts us.
And next thing you know, we’re caught up in that. And so, I’ve been praying for these spiritual blinders from the Lord and that I can just focus on Jesus. And so, I think that maybe you could do the same, and that might help. But I really have found that who cares what anybody else says?
God’s word is what it is. And he’s shown me these miracles time after time, like Zach Williams calling me up and asking me to do a song with him, and then asking me to go on tour with him, and then me asking the Lord for a tour bus and he provided one, and everybody laughed at me and said, first year Christian artists don’t have tour buses.
God gave me $96,000 in one month. And this is where John Piper comes in, because he says, I can boast in the tour. I can boast in the guitar. I can boast in my bus as long as I boast in the cross. And that’s just it because that’s where it all came. And so, I’ve just, I’ve been lit on fire. My world is upside down. It, and again, I’ll say this, it makes no sense to me. People look and I’ve got a lot of lovers and I’ve got a lot of haters that are like I gave up the country music world because the Christian world is just that much easier. This is where my favorite Johnny Cash quote comes in, which I don’t know if the person who commented that recently knows this quote but being a Christian ain’t for sissies. It takes a real man to live for God.
And I’ll tell you what, I have lived the dark side and I have done unspeakable things but being a Christian and following Jesus Christ is one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. And I dare you to take up your cross, and I challenge you to do the same because it is not easy, but man, is it worth it.
Are we gonna rejoice in heaven? Are the parties and the angels just gonna be being had and being sung in heaven for us? And I am so grateful because this is, the good news is that it’s already been done. Is that Jesus went to the cross for is us and our freedom and our salvation, and so that we could just live.
And yes, we’re gonna sin, you bet. But he’s made a way. His blood has covered us. And I’m just so grateful that it doesn’t have to make sense. And you don’t have to have all the answers, and you don’t have to know the Bible in and out. I’m reading this thing on a daily basis, and I open it up and I say, Show me what you’d like to show me today. I don’t know where to go or where to turn, and it blows my mind how it pertains to what I was just going through, or what I’m going through right now. And it makes no sense to me, but that’s what he does. And that’s what he continues to do, is it just blows my mind. So, just ask him. Just ask him for yourself. Just go, just do it. And never ever stop telling your story, because your story matters. You matter. Your life matters. And if you found yourself, and I just, I’ve had this so many times where I’ve had people come up to me and say, I’ve had a gun in my mouth, or My gun didn’t go off. Or I’ve been there, man, it takes one to know one. I would just say to you that all I did was ask him. All I did was ask him to come help me. I just said, God, if you’re real, can you help me? God, if you’re even there, can you help? And he’ll show up, I promise you. He’ll show up cuz I’m not anything special, but I’m just grateful that he’s changed my life.
I love that I can’t explain it, but this is what walking out my faith looks like. And it’s messy and it’s not pretty. And I’m just out to break that stigma of Christians and Christianity and how perfect it’s gotta be, and how good it’s gotta look. And so, I’m just really grateful for what he’s done.
Let’s pray. God, thank you for today. Thank you for waking me up this morning, Lord. Thank you for my open arms and my open heart. God, I pray for the ears and the lungs and the eyes that are listening and watching here today, God, that they would receive and that they would not see me, but they would see Jesus.
They would not see me, but they would see what He’s done in me. What he’s done through me, what he’s continuing to do through me. That these songs that I sing are words from him, because I couldn’t dream half of those words. That they see that you see that God is real. That he’s working even when we can’t see him.
Lord, I just thank you for another opportunity to, to just, to just pray to, just to just tell of your goodness. To just tell the truth, to not run away anymore, to not be afraid. To just bring my mess. To not be afraid to bring the ugly and talk about the hard things. God, nobody wants to talk about suicide, but the truth is it’s real and it happens all the time.
So, I’m here to bring that. I just thank you for your Holy Spirit. I thank you for what you’re doing in my family’s life. And I thank you for everybody who’s a part of this today. Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
I thank you guys for following and for just supporting me and the opportunity here on the brought back to Life podcast, that I could share how I was brought back to life.
And we’ve got a bunch of tour dates coming up. We’ve got a bunch of really cool things happening, and all that is available on benfullerofficial.com. We’ve got all that stuff on there and I look forward to meeting each and every one of you at some point here in the future. Love you guys. Thank you.
Producer Luke: No matter what happens, we can be redeemed. Here’s another story showing how Seattle’s Union Gospel mission is redeeming lost souls right here in Washington.
Narrator: Helping the lost become found with Seattle’s Union Gospel mission. Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission doesn’t just provide food and shelter. They offer a path out of homelessness, giving men and women a safe place to recover from addiction, and start on the path toward a new life.
SUGM Testimonial: When I was 15, my world fell apart. I learned that the man I’ve been calling dad wasn’t my father. I was also dealing with my mom’s alcoholism and a lot of anxiety. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing drugs. Soon, that’s where all my money went, and I became homeless. I was sleeping on the street, curled up around a transformer just to stay warm. And one day I just got fed up. That’s the day God brought me to the mission. Today, I am a graduate of the Men’s Recovery Program. I now work at the Mission, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve grown so much just being here. The mission changed my life.
Narrator: Even when it seems impossible to see, hope can be found. Local men and women in our area desperately need a fresh start, and that’s what they find at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. From learning, to trust again to that first hot meal, to a recovery program, and then job training. The mission’s recovery programs offer counseling, case management, chemical dependency classes, and so much more. To hear this story again and hear other stories, visit kcisradio.com/ugm.
To hear more, volunteer, or donate, visit ugm.org