Archive for May, 2019
One day, while in his car, Mike saw his reflection in the rear view mirror clearly for the first time in years. “I knew my life was out of control,” he says. “I was the only one in the car, but I said out loud, ‘God help me. Help me get out of this madness.’ A day and a half later, I was arrested. But as I say, I was rescued.” Mike knew that without help, he’d never escape addiction. From jail, he contacted the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission and was offered a spot after he was released.
That was 12 years ago, and it was the turning point in his life. “The Mission is a great, wonderful program. You learn about beginning a relationship with God and Jesus Christ, which is instrumental. The Mission is by far the best drug and alcohol rehabilitation program there is in California.” Mike has been clean and sober since he graduated from our program over a decade ago. But it wasn’t only the foundation of Jesus or the recovery aspect that changed Mike’s life, he also learned the skills necessary to live life and have a successful business in the Learning Center. After leaving, he started a business that is thriving.
In fact, you may have heard of Mike or seen him around town – everyone calls him “Mike the Bag Man” because that’s the name of his company which distributes restaurant supplies and paper products – including paper and plastic bags of all kinds. “The one thing that helped me in my business was learning about the computer, learning Excel at the Mission.” Mike knows that he is where he is today thanks to God’s grace.
Sometimes the issues that drive us to despair aren’t the ones people see.
Sarah didn’t grow up poor.
She didn’t grow up in a bad part of town.
She didn’t grow up surrounded by addicts.
“Nothing in my childhood foreshadowed who I eventually became.”
In spite of appearances, Sarah felt empty. As a teenager, she cut and burned herself trying to find relief. Her parents put her in counseling, but the relief was only superficial—and temporary. She turned to drugs, but that only left her jobless and homeless.
Sarah was arrested numerous times. The last time, she connected to Bethel House, our women’s recovery program. “I arrived three months clean and sober, scared out of my mind, and literally, without anything, even shoes,” says Sarah. “I met my Lord and Savior during the year I spent at the Bethel House,” she says. “I grew up in my year there. I became the adult my parents always tried so hard to let me be. I finally healed.”
Today, Sarah has a great relationship with her family, a steady job, a relationship with Jesus, and tools that she knows will help carry her the rest of her life. “My chains of addiction are forever gone.”
Stephanie struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for decades. Her family dissolved and she ended up in and out of jail. Her life had become so destructive she was ready to go to prison for the long haul. But then, while she was in jail, her daughter sent her a small black and white photo. The details were fuzzy, but the image was unmistakable. Her daughter was pregnant. Stephanie was going to be a grandma! “That’s what made me decide, ‘Okay, I need to do everything that I need to do and be a grandma,’” she says. “So I went back to court and asked them if I could do a program and they allowed me to come here.”
Stephanie had heard about a higher power before, even in other programs that she had tried, but it wasn’t until she was here that it finally made sense. “I remember sitting in devotions and the light bulb coming on. I was like, ‘I get this now.’ I still read my Bible every morning.” Not only does Stephanie spend time in God’s Word every day, she spends time helping others who are working through their addictions, too. We hired her eight years ago, and she now works as the House Manager at Bethel House, where our Women’s Recovery Program is. Her favorite part about her job is seeing other women experience God’s grace for the first time. “I like to see it when they come here and all of a sudden their light bulb goes on,” she says.
Now Stephanie is the grandma she dreamed of being when she first saw that ultrasound picture. Her two grandkids don’t know her as an addict. They know her as “Grandma Stephanie.”
Thanks to our donors and volunteers we were able to meet our homeless, hungry, and addicted neighbors right where they are and show them that they are not alone. Many colored, signed and included a note of encouragement on special Easter placemats which added even more of a personal connection to our celebration.
As you know, meals are important because they are what brings many of our guests to our doors. Once they are here, they get to experience the warmth, generosity, and kindness of our volunteers and staff, which points them to Jesus and gives them a chance to start a whole new life.