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Police Work Brought Him to His Darkest Hour

Undercover narcotics officer Norm Wielsch was parked on a dark frontage road in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was about 9 p.m., and he was writing a suicide letter to his wife. Then he pulled out his gun as the most effective way to ensure a quick and painless death. Norm thought, I have investigated dozens of suicides. How had my life spiraled out of control to the point of wanting to commit it myself?

Norm had grown up in a middle-class family. One night, he went on a police ride-along. He loved it and knew he had found his calling. Norm writes,

Police protect the thin line between good and evil. They witness the worst that Satan has to offer. Few can endure the emotional stress and physical wear and tear, and after 10 years, PTSD had taken hold of me. Outwardly I appeared to have it all: marriage to my high-school sweetheart, two beautiful daughters, a great job, and a nice house. But inside I was a mess. My wife could take it no longer, and we divorced.

In 1998, I moved to a state police narcotics unit to work as an undercover agent. Soon after, I was diagnosed with a neurological disease called peripheral neuropathy, which was complicated by a degenerative muscular condition. After each of the 30 surgeries, doctors prescribed opioid pain medications. Before long, it was dozens a day and my physical and emotional condition was deteriorating. My second wife begged me to seek professional help, but I was too prideful.

In 2010, his daughter was diagnosed with liver tumors. Doctors gave her a 50 percent chance of surviving. This put Norm in a downward spiral of depression and so on that night he resolved to end his life. Norm writes, “Thankfully, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even so, the next few months were a nightmare.”

Then he made a destructive decision. A private investigator he’d illegally helped in the past by checking license plates and warrant details, needed money for bills. He asked if Norm could supply drugs seized during narcotics investigations. At first, Norm declined, but the PI threatened to reveal their illegal collaborations. So, Norm gave in, not knowing that federal investigators had already sniffed out the scheme. He was arrested the next day and bailed out a few days later.

This was my darkest hour. But God began his mighty work in my life one evening when the telephone rang. It was Pastor Jeff Kenney in Concord, California. I did not know Pastor Jeff, and I did not believe in God. Even so, he invited me to church but I declined. But my wife suggested that God was missing from our lives. She insisted we go to church the next Sunday and so we did.

During one Sunday sermon, Pastor Jeff asked the congregation to pray for my daughter’s healing. Shortly thereafter, we went to get the results from her latest biopsy. The doctor presented two scans: one showing the tumors, and another on which they had disappeared completely. He could not explain the results. It hit me like a ton of bricks. This was no coincidence—God had healed her! I finally believed there was a living God!

After pleading guilty to my charges, I was sentenced to 14 years in prison. There, I got a job in the chapel and earned a master’s degrees in theology and counseling. As I serve the remainder of my sentence, I’m working as an addiction counselor in a men’s residential facility, where I provide pastoral care as a credentialed chaplain. All the hardship, guilt, and pain changed me from the inside out. God may not heal my body in this life, but I know that I am healed—body and soul—for all eternity.

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