Growing up believing in thousands of gods, it took only one to radically change a life headed for despair.

Robby Ahuja is the Development Director of Adult and Teen Challenge Central Canada. Ahuja and his family live in Thunder Bay, Ontario. 

He's worked in almost every position at Adult and Teen Challenge, other than counsellor, since 2008. However, he was a student before he was ever a staff member at ATC. 

"I was living a life of complete death and despair. I was highly addicted to crack cocaine," he says.

Ahuja was living in British Columbia at the time, which is where he also eventually took the one-year program at ATC. 

"Through it all, I ended up heavily addicted to drugs, I got involved in organized crime and gangs, I've done time for attempted murder, and I've been shot. I lived a chaotic life and it's by the grace of God that I'm alive."

Ahuja had a girlfriend at this time in his life and they ended up having a daughter together. 

"I tried many treatment programs, including checking out witch doctors. I was either going to end up dead, be killed, or in jail," says Ahuja.

Robby Ahuja's mug shot and him now. Robby Ahuja's mug shot and him now. (Supplied)

Although he grew up in Canada, the family's Indian background was central in their home.

"My parents are from India and I was raised in a religious home. My parents were Hindu and taught us that there were thousands of gods." 

His parents suggested marrying a religious Indian girl to turn his life around. 

"I did get married once. I was willing to try anything. I went to India and married a girl who had the Hindu faith and that's not what God had for me. It actually spun me deeper into a lifestyle that was worse because I felt like such a failure."

While the relationship with his daughter's mom in Canada also didn't work, his daughter's grandma is the one who told Ahuja about Adult and Teen Challenge.

"All the other gods I tried to tap into and relate with just didn't seem right to me. Then, four years after I had gone to ATC, I had someone remind me that I gave my heart to the Lord when I was just eight years old."

It was after that phone call reminder when God showed Ahuja all the circumstances that he had experienced and why he wasn't dead. God had his hand on Ahuja's whole life, he says.

"Car bombing, attempted murder charge, suicide attempts. I was blown away at what I had survived. My mom basically told me that she took me to different Hindu gods or witch doctors. Each time, the people kept telling my mom that they couldn't help me because I belonged to another 'God' already."

That's when Ahuja realized how real God is, as is the spiritual realm. The Indian community and people still have a special place in Ahuja's heart.

"I went on a missions trip last year to India and I really think God has a huge plan for everyone, especially the Punjab community."

As Development Director, Ahuja oversees the developmental programs that will be opening up in 2021, in communities where the residential programs are not available in Central Canada.

"Today I'm married to a pastor and we have three kids. My kids know Jesus and have a relationship with him. My oldest daughter is 22-years-old and we have a good relationship with her. It's definitely been a journey."

Steinbach will have the newest community programming and will include non-residential programming and family support groups. The community program will be up and running in 2021.  

"Our big mission statement at Adult and Teen Challenge is to put hope within reach of every addict in the world. I want to spend the rest of my life giving people the opportunity I had. I know I should be dead and yet I know God has a plan and a purpose for my life."