DURHAM, NC (WECT) - There's a handful of different interpretations one would walk away with depending on what point during Pastor James Sizemore's life you met him. Drug dealer, church founder, addict, seminary student and syringe program operator are just a few of the titles he could list in his autobiography.
At one time while in his 20s, James was a seminary student at Duke University busy on mission trips. A night at a party after hearing some bad news sent his bright future into a u-turn.
It took a single line of cocaine to turn him into an addict.
James called it quits at Duke just shy of one final semester before graduation. His new passion was drugs.
He relocated to Miami with a new career: hauling cocaine to North Carolina to sell. His drug trade lasted about a year before he returned to Durham, taking up residence in crack house.
After a particularly rough night, James woke up atop a dank, cold mattress and says he heard the voice of God sending him a warning.
He called his mother who didn't hesitate to go retrieve her son.
It took several slow, trying years before both his spirit and body began to heal.
Unable to find a church community he felt comfortable around given his past, James decided to create his own. He started Radiant Church for those turned away by traditional establishments.
From day one, the church was founded on the belief that criticizing people's choices and behaviors rarely led them into a healthier life.
Unlike most churches, Radiant organizes kits of clean syringes and hygiene supplies for drug users and sex workers.