My Crazy Journey
Just in case we haven't met, my name is Zack, but most people call me crazy.
After years and years of partying, drugs, and a serious drinking problem, I ended up severely depressed and suicidal.
On September 29, 2014, I wrote suicide letters to my loved ones, and I decided life wasn't worth living anymore. I had lost all hope, all joy, and all sense of purpose.
I fell to my knees on the bedroom floor and said a final prayer, just in case God really cared. I wasn't scared of dying that day...I just didn't want to go to hell.
In truth, I don't know exactly what I asked God - it was mostly tears, snot, and that heavy feeling in my throat. I do remember feeling compelled to open my Bible, so I did. With shaky hands, I turned to a random page, just hoping something would stand out.
Well...it just "happened" to fall open to the book of Matthew. In big, red letters, here's what I saw:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
In that very moment, still on my knees, I felt an indescribable peace enter my room. It was more than a feeling, it was more like a presence. A person. Still weeping, I didn't say words, nor did I hear any. All I remember is surrender. I felt the weight of the world lift from my soul. I felt a transfer of darkness to light. I felt capable again.
I've been clean and sober since that day, and I now believe in miracles. My life is proof. That "presence" in my room was Jesus - kneeling beside me, picking up the broken pieces of my life. He restored my soul, and I am completely sold out for sharing His relentless, healing love with the world.
In 2017, I felt a crazy pull on my heart to leave everything behind and share this love. I guess after a miracle happens in your life, you learn that anything is possible, and fear becomes an open door. So...I took a giant leap of faith, got rid of all my possessions, left my full-time job in Charlotte, and jumped in my Dodge Ram with my German Shepherd to share the Gospel all over the United States.
This has been an incredible journey…full of challenges, life-changing encounters, and things I still don’t have the words to describe. (Hopefully the pictures will help haha.)
To date, I’ve had the opportunity to share the Gospel with over 30,000 people through speaking engagements, social media, podcasts, and daily encounters with total strangers on the road, in coffee shops, homeless shelters, treatment centers, trailer parks, on beaches and mountains, and behind dumpsters.
Ziva and I have traveled to 36 different states in 2018, experienced many of the challenges of being homeless, spent countless nights in the truck and in our tent, skipped meals to keep gas in the tank, and survived a couple of days and nights I’d rather not revisit.
Through it all, I count it all joy. The fact that I’m still alive today is proof that God is faithful, and He does provide every need. This journey has taught me to be content - with nothing, and with much.
If you’ve helped in any way, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you. You have quite literally played a role in keeping me alive, as I follow this crazy call to share Jesus with the world.
I’m still having a tough time putting any of this journey into words…as I attempt to write this letter, thoughts and memories keep racing through:
Memories of sharing hotel rooms with homeless people (there was one night in San Diego where I genuinely thought my life was in danger. I didn’t sleep a wink that night haha. This dude lit a joint in the room at like 3am and started hitting his wooden plank against the wall...)
Or the memory of spending a week at a homeless shelter in El Paso, Texas, where an elderly Hispanic man named Jesus (fitting, right?) was staying in the room across from me. He was confined to a wheelchair, but you wouldn’t know it from the joy in his heart. Every day that week, he’d greet me and remind me that it’s a great day to be alive. Anytime a person would ask him how he’s doing, he’d reply, “I’m blessed.” I learned a lot from that man.
(Before we left, Jesus called me into his room and gave me his personal journal - much of it was written during his 33 years of living under bridges. I've read most of it, and the funny thing is...he was never bitter. He wrote prayers for people who spit on him and called him names.)
Or the time I felt strangely compelled to detour down a random dirt road in Oregon at 7am. The rain had just stopped, and a beautiful rainbow emerged over the lake in the distance. A couple of miles down the road, I ran over a nail, and my tire went completely flat in under a minute. It wouldn’t have been a problem, but the same thing had already happened a couple of weeks before, and I didn’t have a spare tire. There wasn’t a soul around, and there was zero cell phone service. And it started raining again. It was one of those moments where I didn’t know if I was going to laugh or cry, so I did both. I yelled at God, I cried to God, and I laughed at myself - all at the same time.
I started walking beside the lake, backtracking toward the main highway, determined to find cell phone service. Just around the corner, through the trees, I noticed two fishermen beside the lake…it was strange, because I’m 100% confident I would’ve noticed them before. I had literally just driven past that spot. They ended up giving me a tire, and I got to tell them about Jesus as we changed the tire in the rain together. I’ll never know if they were actual angels or just good people, but I learned a lot that day, too.
That’s the sort of thing that happened every single day this year. I ran completely out of money on several occasions, and there were other times where I had the honor of giving everything in my account to strangers in need, like Ms. Yolanda in Texas.
Through it all, God always provides. I had to learn to put my pride to the side, and ask for help. Perhaps that’s the real lesson I needed to learn this year: pride is a dead end, and humility opens big doors.
I already said thank you, but I can’t say it enough. It’s just incredible that a few hundred total strangers came together on Instagram and impacted over 30,000 people this year. It’s been such an honor and a joy to experience all the highs and lows of real, full-time ministry on the streets of America.
I need your help to keep going. It costs $3,000 per month to keep this ministry going, and everything above $3,000 goes directly into homeless outreach and raising addiction awareness. Please consider giving, even if it's just $5 a month - it makes a huge difference.Instagram (@zackgudzan) for upcoming tour dates, stories, and updates from the road!
It’s all about Jesus. I can no longer read the Gospel and not obey. He wasn’t kidding around when He said to sell your possessions and give to the poor. (And no, I'm not saying everyone should quit their jobs and do this. I am saying, if God has put a clear call and vision in your heart, it's in your best interest to obey.) The Great Commission was not a suggestion…it’s a command. Nothing is more important than eternity, and I’ll spend the rest of my life inviting people to the party in heaven. Jesus is everything. Much love! -Zack
You can email me anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org.