Joe has been staying at the Mission’s shelter since December. He came to a chapel service a few days before Christmas and committed his life to Christ. He said it was the first time in his life he could sit and listen to a church service and understand it. “There was something about the service that day that really reached into my soul,” he recalls. When it was over, he felt truly set free from a dark cloud over his life. It took a long time for Joe to get to that point. For more than 37 years he struggled with addiction.
“The only people who I felt ever accepted me were the ones who did drugs,” Joe says. Over the decades, Joe was a functioning addict working kitchen jobs to maintain his drug habits. He eventually got into trouble with the law and had to serve time before being released last year.
Recently, he went to court to settle some legal issues and was nervous he would be locked up again. The night before, he decided to leave the Mission and go to a bar. This was Joe’s routine for decades. When faced with hardship, he would get drunk or high. He went to the bar and ordered a beer. He said as soon as the beer was set before him, he felt the Holy Spirit came on him.
“I saw all these people in there, they were drunk and sounding lost and hopeless. And then I glanced at my phone and on the screen were three crosses. At that moment, I knew God was telling me, “Joe, you don’t belong in places like this anymore. Time for you to leave. And that’s what I did.”
For the first time in his life, Joe had rejected temptation. The next day, he spoke boldly to the judge that he was a changed man. The judge was impressed and gave him an option of paying a few dollars a month on fines. He could not believe it was that easy. Joe is now a cook in the Mission’s kitchen, serving meals to the homeless. He also has shared his story with other homeless guests who are struggling with addiction, shame, and pain.
“I never thought being homeless would be the best thing that ever happened to me. But it was because it brought me here and now I have a chance for a new life in Christ,” Joe said. “I want other people who are struggling to know that their lives can change, too.”