As a former high school state wrestling champion, Josh Goodson found it was his personal vices that threatened to put him down for the count nine years ago.

"Life was bad — pretty much my life was in shambles," said Goodson, 37, of Baton Rouge. "God told me if I didn't quit drinking and using (drugs) I was going to lose everything, including my son. And I was going to die."

Goodson said he remembers the day — June 24, 2007 — and the place — at a stop light on Highway 98 in Destin, Florida.

"I was in a car by myself and trying to figure out how I was going to get to the next phase of my life," said Goodson, who was living in Destin and working as a charter boat captain and deckhand .

Goodson, who is Catholic, said he immediately made his way to church to pray.

"I asked God to forgive me and to give me some strength to get through," he said. "And I took myself to rehab and never looked back."'

He spent 30 days in rehab.

"I think at the point I went in, I was already done," he said. "I went basically to get my mind straight and get out of the atmosphere that I was in and did my 12 steps of (Alcoholics Anonymous) in a place where I didn't have any distractions other that support from other people."

Goodson returned to Baton Rouge, gained custody of his son and eventually built a successful document-shredding business, which he runs with his second wife.

"I believe with every ounce of my soul that God laid the foundation and opportunity for me to start this business and get my son and have custody of him," said Gooden, also a professional fisherman.

Goodson isn't shy about sharing with his employees the goodness of God in his life.

"Our faith is well-known here," he said. "Everybody that's worked for me knows I base the fact that I have this business off of my own sobriety and that God gave me the second chance at life. I took that opportunity and ran with it."

Trying to stay active in his faith goes beyond his home and place of business for Goodson. He also likes to help give back to the community. 

"People gave me those opportunities when I was changing in my life. I try to give back to other people doing the same thing," Goodson said.

His greatest opportunities for ministry and mentoring young people come in wrestling. He has served as a volunteer wrestling coach at St. Michael High School, the Dunham School and other groups.

Goodson could share about how he was an outstanding wrestler at St. Michael (then Bishop Sullivan High School), where he was a three-time state wrestling champion, two-time city champion, City Outstanding Wrestler in 1998 and All-Metro first-team member in 1997. Goodson also garnered attention by “Elite High School Wrestlers of America” in 1997 and “Who’s Who in High School Sports” in his senior year of 1998.

But what Goodson is most proud to share with the young people is that God will be with them even through the difficult moments.

"I try to mentor to kids who are going through rough spells in their lives and show them there's another side to it, especially young athletes and young men going through changes in their lives, to steer them in the right direction," he said.

He shares how God changed the direction of his life.

"I try to tell young kids that life gets better, that God has better plans," he said. "If you'd asked me when I was 27 years old and I couldn't look myself in the mirror, if I thought I was going to be in Baton Rouge, with my son and beautiful wife and a prosperous business, I would have told you you were crazy — that I would not live to be 28. God has a plan for us; we have to be willing to listen and do everything that he asks us to do. Rarely is that path easy for us."

For the soul

Healing for the soul is the focus of the Soul Conference set for 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Charity Christian Center, 871 O'Neal Lane, in Baton Rouge. Intercessory prayer starts at 8:30 a.m.

The conference dealing with grief will be led by Velma Matthews and Velma Matthews Ministries. The theme is "There is Purpose in Your Pain."

"Everybody who comes in dealing with something, they're not going to walk out of there the same," said Matthews, a certified life coach, grief counselor and congregational minister at Star Hill Church.

Matthews said the Apostle Paul talks about the spirit, body and soul in I Thessalonians 5:23. The soul is the central area, Matthews said.

"That's where everything takes place," Matthews said. "That's where the pain is. That's where the hurt is. That's where all of your emotions, your will and your mind is. If the soul is not right, if there's something going on in the soul that's not good, it's going to destroy the body and will mess up your spirit."

The stage play "Broken Not Chain" will be performed during the conference.

"The play is about people sharing what's real and transparent," Matthews said of the 30-minute play that features actors involved in an abusive relationship, a sex abuse victim and a mother dealing with her son's suicide.

The conference also will feature the Rev. Terrell Griffin and psalmist Sherri Moses Smart.

Tickets for the conference are $25. For information, call (225) 439-4911, (225) 229-7665 or (225) 245-1815 or visit purposeinthepain.eventbrite.com.


Faith Matters run every other Saturday in The Advocate. Reach Terry Robinson at (225) 383-0238 or email trobinson@theadvocate.com