Clean: Ivan Fubler has been drug-free for more than three years since joining Victory Outreach in the UK. *Photo by Simon Jones
Clean: Ivan Fubler has been drug-free for more than three years since joining Victory Outreach in the UK. *Photo by Simon Jones

FRIDAY, JAN. 13: For more than three decades Ivan Fubler lived a dangerous life of drugs and crime.

He peddled narcotics from street corners and spent hundreds of dollars a day on his own habit.

But that all changed in 2008 when he moved to the UK to take part in a spiritual boot camp called Victory Outreach that his friend, Pastor Leroy Bean, introduced to him.

Mr Fubler, pictured, was nearly 50 when he left the island but he has never looked back.

He has been drug-free ever since and turned his life around. Mr Fubler recently returned to Bermuda for the first time since he left and shared his remarkable story with the Bermuda Sun: “I don’t recognize that man I used to be when I lived in Bermuda.

“I thought I was living the good life but really I was in the shadows and had been living at rock bottom for a long time.

“It was God who turned my life around and I realize that now.”

Pastor Bean said. “Ivan proves it does not matter how old you are to change your life.

“Sometimes people have to get off the island to escape their demons and the past they once had.”

 

FRIDAY, JAN. 13: Ivan Fubler was just nine when he started getting high.

By 13 he had moved on to hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.

His life descended into decades of dealing on street corners, planning overseas smuggling operations and battling to feed his own $500-a-day habit.

He went through every rehab programme there was on offer and served time at Westgate along the way.

But that all changed on August 8, 2008 when Ivan, now aged 50, flew to the UK and embarked on a ‘spiritual boot camp’ called Victory Outreach in London.

He spent 18 months in the programme and emerged a totally different person.

Guided by a fervent belief in Christ he turned his life around and has now set up a new home in Birmingham with his English girlfriend.

Ivan has been clean for over three years now and recently visited the island for the first time since he left in 2008.

Never too late

He told his remarkable story to the Bermuda Sun to show it is never too late to change.

 “I was brought up in a Christian household in Hamilton parish and was sheltered from the outside world,” he said.

“So I went looking for the things that I was sheltered from.

“When I found these things, and before I realized what had happened, it felt like that was the good life.

“In the beginning it was all fun and games.

“But by 26 I was off the rails. I was importing drugs from abroad and selling it on the streets. It was more of a career and I was good at it. I didn’t attract attention on myself and I worked on my own.

“I was doing around $500 worth of heroin and cocaine a day myself and I could not function without my ‘breakfast’ hit.

“I look back now and realize that I turned into a monster. I was aggressive and the drugs nearly destroyed me.

“I did not see it then. But I do now.”

Community activist Leroy Bean had grown up next door to Ivan and seen his life spiral out of control.

And it was Pastor Bean who helped put Ivan in touch with the Victory Outreach project.

Pastor Bean said: “We had been trying to wrestle Ivan away from the island for some time.

“We sought him out and I introduced him to Pastor Ron Williams from the Victory Outreach programme.

“You could say Ivan was targeted by us but he made the decision to leave the island himself.”

Ivan boarded the British Airways flight to London on August 8, 2008.

Mr Fubler said: “I had been at rock bottom for some time when I got on that aircraft.

“I had tried all the rehab programmes Bermuda had to offer but every time I came out again there was the same people, the same associates dragging me back into that old world.

“I was picked up by Pastor Ron when I arrived at Gatwick and taken into a house in London.

“There were bunk beds in each of the three bedrooms and around 20 of us there.

“The programme is based on total immersion in Christ.

“It’s like a spiritual boot camp where your day is structured around praying, reading and worship.

“I thought to myself either I am going to stay here and make it happen or I am going to flop again.

“I was determined to make it work and from the moment I arrived I had absolutely no desire to take any drugs. That desire just disappeared the moment I got on the plane.

“I thought at the time that I was making it happen and that I was changing myself. Now I realize it was God that made it happen.”

While he was based in London Ivan used his skills as a stonemason and carpenter to help with community and charity projects.

But he kept to his regimented routine of daily worship. In May 2009 he moved up to Handsworth in Birmingham where he remained in the programme for another eight months.

He said: “There was a much smaller group in Birmingham and that suited me better.

“The whole purpose of the project is to take you back to the start again so you can begin from fresh.

“I felt so comfortable with the structure that I ended up staying with it longer than most.

“There were no distractions, no familiar faces trying to get you back to your old life. It was a new life with a new focus.

“I moved out on my own about two-and-a-half years ago, got myself a house and began a new life.

“I still do odd jobs with the Pastor around Birmingham and am looking for a full time job at the moment.

“My life revolves around God now. I pray, I read, I worship at my local church. God comes first cause He is the one that got me out of the life I used to have.”

Ivan, who is now 53, returned to Bermuda for the first time in more than three years last week.

He met with family and friends and spent time with his old friend Pastor Bean too.

Poisoned

“I had my apprehensions about coming back,” he said. “I thought I might get arrested at the airport for debts I have.

“I had poisoned my body so badly with drugs when I was here that I had to be opened up and operated on. I didn’t have insurance back then and so couldn’t pay my bills.

“I walked around town and it was hard seeing my old associates again.

“They look like death now. I think that if I had not left the island when I did that would be me or I would be dead.

“It hurt me to see them like they are now more than it shocked me. “These guys were my brethren — the people I used to spend my time with. It sickens me to see how they are now.

“I hope that by them seeing me they can see that you can do something about your life. It’s never too late.”