In November 2022, Jedidiah Hill started working in outreach at Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley, connecting with the drug courts in Mahoning, Columbiana, Stark and Summit counties. Through the courts, Jed works with first-time, non-violent offenders, getting them into treatment for substance abuse, in lieu of conviction. He also pastors, but this wasn’t his first career plan.
Jed was a standout football player at Struthers High School and then Penn State University where he graduated with a degree in criminal justice and sociology. Then, Jed became a successful actor and fitness model, appearing on numerous magazine covers and in television shows and commercials. He was living and working in Los Angeles when he was in a severe motorcycle crash and suffered major injuries. A doctor prescribed painkillers, but when the pills ran out, Jed moved on to street drugs.
“I was addicted to anything that would get me outside of myself,” Jed said. Eventually, he was arrested and sentenced to prison. “That night in the cell, I ended up hanging myself,” Jed said. “God saw fit to save my life. I woke up a week later on a ventilator in the hospital. I knew there was a bigger purpose for my life because I had overdosed four times. I had tried to take my own life in the jail cell and I came back.”
He started to recall Bible verses his mother taught him when he was a child. One of them was Romans 5:8: “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” That really hit him. “You’re telling me that while I’m a drug addict, while I’m a felon, he still died for me? He cared for me so that he would send his only son to die for me.” Jed vividly remembers that night. “I was yelling, ‘God, I’m done. If you’re so good, save my soul,’” he said. “I remember getting up in that moment and God said, ‘Good, now I can begin.’” Although Jed went to prison, he says he didn’t serve a day because God set him free that night.
Now he helps others who struggle with the same issues he did. “I know what it’s like to be hopeless, to have nobody,” Jed said. “I know what it’s like to be lonely. I know what it’s like to be depressed. I know what it’s like to have suicidal thoughts.” And he knows that God is what got him clean.
After prison, Jed got his license in chemical dependency counseling and worked as a counselor. “God laid it on my heart that this is my calling to help others,” he said. He worked as the director of another recovery agency for four years before joining ATCOV and also works as an outreach pastor.
“I know what these people are going through and they just need a little hope and I know what the hope is,” Jed said. He and his wife, also a recovering addict, recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary and they have a 2-year-old son. “I know that God has saved me for this and there’s no greater joy than that,” Jed said.