Brad Finds Redemption, Now Pays it Forward
Brad was a restaurant manager who seemed to have his life in place. His recreational drug and alcohol use was just a way to have fun and relax when he was not at work.
But in 2008, the recreational use became a life-debilitating addiction. Money that went to pay the bills started going toward his addiction. “I eventually just stopped showing up to work and became homeless,” Brad recalled. “I felt lost. There’s lots of services out there that help people, but if you’ve never been homeless you don’t know about them or even where to look.”
Brad eventually met another man on the street who led him to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. He walked through the doors on July 7, 2008, his eyes downcast and shoulders slumped.
“There was a huge red cross on the roof – like a beacon of hope! But I didn’t see it because I was so depressed – I Just stared at the ground,” Brad said. But it would be here that Brad would find everlasting hope – a day after moving in, he trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. He credits that day as the day he found the strength and dignity needed to turn his life around.
During his one-year stay at the Mission, Brad was able to get his high school diploma at the Career Learning Center, the Mission’s on-site adult high school. He did so well that he was award “Student of the Year” by the staff. He also excelled in the Discipleship Program (work rehabilitation) and was eventually offered a full time position as a Men’s Case Manager.
“I fell in love with serving others. I saw that it went beyond a good feeling, it was doing the Lord’s work,” he said. He made it a point to practice the compassion that he experienced while also bringing joy into people’s lives. “It’s serious work because people’s lives are literally depending on you.”
While working at the Mission, Brad met a man who worked for the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. As they got to know each other, Brad felt like God was calling him to join this organization. After two months of prayer and with the support of Mission staff, Brad transitioned to become a full-time Street Outreach Specialist.
“I spend my days walking around downtown Orlando, meeting homeless individuals and families and helping them find the services they need,” he said. “Homelessness is never anyone’s choice and I get to extend the same generosity that I experienced with others in the community in need.”
When Brad isn’t working, he helps lead a men’s bible study called Master Life. The curriculum is designed to help participants develop a stronger relationship with Jesus Christ and send them into the mission field.
Brad’s life has truly come full circle – the man who lost everything to addiction and didn’t know where to turn has become one who helps people find what they need to forever escape homelessness and the despair that comes with it.
“If you would have told me I’d be doing this with my life, I would have laughed in your face,” he said. It’s not what I had planned – but it’s what the Lord had planned. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Staying at the Mission gave Brad a new lease on life. He beat his addiction, earned his high school diploma and followed God’s call to help the homeless. The O.U.R.M. Men’s Division offers emergency shelter, a discipleship work program and Christian mentoring to homeless men. Your gift of $26.82 provides a hot meal and a day of life-changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida!