Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

July 16, 2013

Compston shares story of addiction, redemption

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — Runner and mission worker Amy Compston spoke about her time as a troubled youth who woke up in a hospital’s ICU after repeatedly overdosing on drugs and alcohol, as well as her current faith-fueled mission to help children in Africa, during a Monday afternoon presentation to the Ashland Rotary Club.

Compston, who is training for a 50-mile ultra-marathon after her recent completion of the Boston Marathon, said “God let me go through a lot of stuff and he got me through it,” before sharing her experiences as a youth fighting earthly temptations including sex, drugs and alcohol abuse. With her audience clinging to every statement, Compston said she started running at a young age when a friend asked her about getting involved with Greenup County’s high school track team. As a teen, Compston said she could easily run a “six-flat mile,” although her athletic endeavors did nothing to protect her when a boyfriend introduced her to premarital relations, drugs and adult drink.

At the age of 15, Compston said she swallowed and snorted 30 Xanax tablets before waking up in an intensive care unit “with tubes in every orifice.” Refusing to learn from that experience, she said she helped friends wash down more pills with a big bottle of whiskey before attending a school dance, and again finding herself in a hospital. Her mother recognized she was “on a path to destruction,” she said and signed her up for Christian counseling sessions. Compston said she learned from the counseling, but refused to embrace the message and often attended her sessions while intoxicated.

“It stayed in my heart, but I didn’t let it change my ways,” she said, explaining she was soon involved in a car wreck that left her “face peeled back and my skull showing.” With the help of a talented surgeon, and the fortune of having no brain or spinal injuries, Compston said she was able to walk out of the hospital the same day. A short while after the accident, Compston said she experienced a chapter of anorexic behavior, eating little more than a baked potato each day while maintaining a physical regimen, including a three-mile run each morning and evening.

Compston said she essentially maintained the addictive lifestyle for years, stopping her drug and alcohol use while pregnant, but resuming her substance abuse at the first opportunity.

“If you are a child of God, he will not let you live in sin comfortably,” she said, explaining she became overwhelmed by fears about what her lifestyle could do to her family, as well as her nursing career.

For the past year, Compston says she has fully embraced God and asks him to use her abilities as a runner to serve as a disciple and serve his needs. She explained she felt God’s presence while qualifying to run in the Boston Marathon, as evidenced by a photo of her smiling after completing 18 miles of the course. God also comforted her while she was recovering from mononucleosis two weeks before the big event in Boston, where she finished with a time comparable to the world’s most elite female athletes, “and escaped two bombs, praise the Lord.”

Compston also credits God with sparing her immediate family from the blasts in Boston.

“I had 21 family members 20 feet from the first bomb all day,” she said, explaining her family spent the day distributing tracts with the salvation message. One of the tracts can clearly be seen in a magazine cover photo depicting victims of the bombing, she pointed out in response to those who asked where God was when the bombings happened.

Compston said her next project will be a 50-mile run in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 2, and asked Rotarians for their support in the form of per-mile pledges. A single dollar can feed a child in Uganda for a week, she explained, and $45 will send a child to school with meals for a year.

“The price of medicines doesn’t go down in Third-World countries,” she said, noting medical concerns are a priority for the 237 children the mission cares for in two schools as well as two orphanages. With 100 percent of donations going to help children in Uganda, Compston said the Amy for Africa campaign will also provide jobs for Ugandans who will build additional schools, as well as being trained to serve as teachers and in other roles.

Looking back on her life today and the life she once led, Compston asked those who can’t make financial contributions to support the effort through personal prayer.

“There is no better life than life in Christ,” she said, before being presented with a proclamation by Ashland Commissioner Cheryl Spriggs declaring Amy Compston Day in Ashland, and Commissioner Marty Gute, who presented her with a key to the city.

For more information about Amy for Africa, visit amyforafrica.com.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.