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Saved at the Finish Line

“I saw the allure of gambling”, said Tarrant. “I started putting in 20 bucks then 60 dollars then hundreds and it eventually turned into thousands of dollars per night while I’m drinking.”

Tarrant Cross Child is a blood tribe member of the Blackfoot Confederacy. In summers as a boy, he found joy in running on the beautiful Southern Alberta reservation.

“It was quite amazing because you see the beauts, the rocks, and then you get to find the horses and then chase them back into the corral. And so that’s when I really realized that I really loved to run.”

His passion became his pursuit and Tarrant accepted a college scholarship to run cross country at Medicine Hat College in Alberta. While there he met Celeste, who was also a runner - and a Christian.

Tarrant said, “It was just a relationship that grew through running and we fell in love with each other.”

They were married in the year 2000, and soon started a family. He worked in the flooring business and as the company grew, so did his desire for money and alcohol.

“I started attending pubs, having a beer. I started chasing after money, after the acceptance from other contractors and money just really started to run my life.”

One day in 2007 Tarrant got a call from his mother who owed him money for two months.

“She’s says, ‘Tarrant I’m sick.’ I said, ‘Mom, I know. You’re always sick. You didn’t pay me back. Don’t call me until you pay me back that money.’”

It would be last time he would speak to her.

“She ended up dying an hour after I yelled at her and hung up the phone on her. And realizing what kind of son I had become," said Tarrant. “Who does that to their own mother?”

Tarrant stopped running and drowned his sorrows in alcohol and gambling.

“I started drinking more beer at night, during the day as the weeks went on and the months went on after my mother’s death.”  

His substance abuse took its toll on his family.

“My daughter, she would sprawl her body right along the door; just blocking the door, crying and pleading with me, ‘Dad just please stay home. I don’t want you to leave.' Just the grip of the addiction overpowered the thought of being home with my wife and my four children.”

His family continued to hope and pray.

“My wife of course would be out on her runs, running along the trails praying for me when I would be on a four-day bender. Little did I know my wife and my kids would be kneeling down in the living room hand in hand praying.”  

His gambling took money from the family and soon he defaulted on his mortgage. On Easter Sunday 2014, while his family was at church, Tarrant decided to take his life.

“After drinking more beer, I went into the garage, found a rope, tied it up there on the third rafter. After my three failed attempts I went back into the house. I was mad. I found a bottle of extra strength Tylenol consumed the entire bottle and meanwhile I downed over 24 beers.”  

Celeste returned from church to find Tarrant unresponsive and rushed him to the hospital.

Tarrant said, “After a few days there I said, ‘Celeste, I need help.’ I didn’t want faith help. I just wanted secular help. Because in my mind I would think how can God fix everything I have done. How can He redeem me? How can He set me free from my past?”

A nurse told Tarrant about Teen Challenge, a Christian based rehab facility.

“As she’s telling me this, I realize I’m not shaking, I’m not sweating, I feel calm. I feel peace.”

Tarrant committed to the 12-month rehab. On his second day something changed his heart.

“I’m sitting on the front row. The worship is up, they start singing this song Amazing Grace, my chains are gone. And I felt like the chains of addiction and gambling and sin. I felt like they’d been broken. What’s my life going to look like now?”

Tarrant found out that members of the church had taken care of some of the family bills. In fact, they received so much help, they were able to keep their house.

“When I graduated the program, I returned home to my family we renewed our vows, returned to our home, and I started my business back up.”

Tarrant also started running again. That year, he ran the Saskatchewan marathon; and though he didn’t win he drew national attention and gained a sponsorship with New Balance.  

“When I crossed the finish line,” Tarrant said, “I really felt that God impressed upon my heart that ‘Yes, this is a finish line, but to you this is a brand-new start to a brand-new life.’”

He now travels Canada with his “Child of the Cross Ministry” donating shoes, putting on races and sharing the Gospel.

“I knew I wanted these communities to be able to feel the same thing and experience a victory, something positive in their lives.”

And for the positive in his life, Tarrant credits the power of prayer.

“Celeste and the kids never stopped believing. Being able to still pray, being able to still believe that her husband is going to be better someday, her husband is l going to come back to Jesus Christ. It happened right in front of me, so I know this Jesus is real and I know this Jesus wants a relationship with everyone.”

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