Sober, employed, and reconciled with his family.
Today, I am excited to be sober, have a great job at a local heating and cooling company, and have reconnected with my younger sister who I haven’t talked to in years. To understand how amazing my successes have been, you must understand where I was before I came to the Ogden Rescue Mission for help.
I didn’t have much of life growing up. My father was a drug dealer and there were always people coming in and out of our house. My sister, who was four years younger than me, and I were devastated when my father walked out and left our family when I was 14 years old. My father’s abandonment hit my mom the hardest. She was left alone to raise two kids. She started drinking, the drinking got worse, and she eventually left with a man she had met and moved to South Carolina. My sister and I were alone. Today, my mom is living as a homeless person on the streets in South Carolina. The last time I spoke with her she told me, “Your mother is dead. I killed her.”
Without much structure, my life fell into delinquency and drugs, the only lifestyle I ever knew. I was kicked out of school at age 16 because I was so insubordinate. I started smoking marijuana and was drinking a lot. I started trying other drugs like meth and heroin. I would get money by shoplifting and then selling the things I had stolen. I moved around a lot, thinking that maybe new surroundings would help me. I lived in Texas, Florida, and Washington. But while the location changed, I didn’t. Everywhere I went I still did drugs and would get arrested for misdemeanor theft.
When I made my way back to Ogden, I found I could make decent money working at restaurants and bars, but I was usually drinking during my shifts. I didn’t make enough money to support my alcohol and drug habit and also pay rent. After losing my apartment, I started sleeping behind a church that was across the street from the Ogden Rescue Mission. Later, I made my way down to Salt Lake and became part of the downtown homeless community, where I got in more trouble and landed in jail.
When I got out of jail, I had few options. I had no place to go and with a recent felony on my record, couldn’t find a job. I remembered that I had stayed behind that church in Ogden. When I was staying there, I would occasionally go over to the Ogden Rescue Mission to eat a meal and take a shower. I knew the Mission had a program, The New Life Program that could help people get off the streets and into recovery, employment, and housing. I figured I would give the program a shot. After all, what did I have to lose?
The surprising part was just how quickly my life changed. I loved going to the Bible studies and I joined a local church. There was a family at the church who was so nice to me I became like a de facto member of their family. I feel like they are the family I never had, like an adopted family.
As I became healthy and sober, I thought about my sister, who I hadn’t really connected with since I was a teenager. I learned she had been taken in and raised by a nice family. She saw on Facebook that I was being baptized at the Christian Worship Center and she listened to the story of how God had changed my life. She reached out to me and now we talk to each other at least once a week. We are both amazed at how God rescued us from the difficult childhoods we experienced.
When I had achieved sobriety and made several steps towards recovery it was time for me to find a job, while I finished the New Life Program. One of my biggest blessings happened when a local heating and cooling company took a chance and hired me. I am happy to report I am doing well in my job.
I have been able to pay off all my court fines and restitution and even saved up enough money to get a good used car. During my time when I was bouncing around from state to state and doing drugs, I did get my girlfriend pregnant. One of my biggest regrets is not supporting her and our child. So, I have reached out to them and am making payments on my back-child support. I hope these payments will lead to a better relationship and show them that I want to support them.
Before, all my money went to my addiction. Now I can take care of my responsibilities and even buy a pair of pants if I need them. Faith in God has made all the difference. Before I came to the Ogden Rescue Mission I did not really believe in God. Now I love God and thank Him daily. He has given me a great church family, an awesome adopted family, and plenty of support. There is a Bible verse that I repeat often. I feel like it encapsulates my life. It’s Psalm 90:15, “Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery, replace the evil years with good.”
As I look to the future, I do see good years ahead. I owe my new life to the Ogden Rescue Mission and all its faithful supporters. Without this place, I would’ve never found faith in God and experienced a changed life. Thanks to all those who support the Mission so that people like me have a chance to get off the streets. Please pray for my mom that she finds the help she needs.