In His Own Words, Scott’s Story of Redemption
On Aug. 24, 2012, our family came to the Mission because we had absolutely nowhere else to go. Before we found the Mission, we had been living in a cheap, roach-infested motel with very little to eat. We had come to the point where the only next option for us was to literally sleep in the woods.
My wife is from Lima, Peru, and had been here for only a year or two. She spoke very little English and was still overwhelmed by the United States. I have upper-middle class roots and affluent family members who decided not to help us. They knew that helping us would only bail me out from my irresponsible lifestyle and further perpetuate a nasty cycle that was leading my family down a path of residual dependency and poverty.
They, of course, were right to do this. I had been a gambling addict for as long as I could remember. I never knew my father and the primary influences in my life had exposed me to that lifestyle at a very young age. I remember going into casinos and racetracks almost every weekend to watch them gamble – even though sometimes we didn’t have enough money to pay the bills. I remember taking cold showers, having no electricity and having cars repossessed – but there was always enough money to go gamble.
I adapted to it quickly, thus developing self-destructive habits early. The first major cost of my addiction was my college career – I was a decorated scholar at the University of Florida but dropped out my junior year.
I met my wife in Peru while I was doing volunteer work. We married and came back to the United States with our first son, Max. Our second son, Paul, arrived soon after we arrived. However, my gambling habits only intensified. I was leading my family down a road that led to nowhere but misery. We finally hit rock bottom in that cheap motel as I was unemployed, without a car, with no money, and no one to turn to for help.
Everyone in my family was heartbroken to see me put my wife and young children in that position. But I had given them no choice but to tell me, at the age of 29, take complete responsibility for my life and my obligations. It was only me who could pull my family out of the throes of poverty and into a better, more self-sufficient way of life.
I searched everywhere for somewhere to go. I even entertained thoughts of suicide and crime in a desperate attempt to spare my young wife and children the fate of literally being on the streets, without food, in a dangerous and unfamiliar place in the August sun. I looked everywhere in the Orlando/Kissimmee area and then came across the Orlando Union Rescue Mission.
At first, all I wanted was a place that I knew my wife and young children would be safe and have a roof over their heads. I didn’t care if I slept in a gutter – in fact, I felt as though that’s where I belonged. You see, when you are addicted to something, you completely disregard the consequences and you aren’t able to see what kind of dilemma you may put yourself in or who you’ll hurt in the process. It’s completely based on instant, selfish gratification and it’s extremely difficult to escape.
The first time I walked into the Mission, I only had enough money to return on the bus to Kissimmee and hadn’t eaten in days. The Mission instantly felt like a safe haven, but not in the sense that it was a place where I could escape my troubles. I explained our situation to the intake coordinator and within 24 hours we were offered a place to stay. Our 1- and 3-year old sons no longer had to suffer, and that feeling of relief was indescribable.
Our experience at the Mission was life-altering. From day one we were held to a high standard but never in a way that disregarded our dignity. We both went through the Victorious Life Program, which reintroduced us to a loving, caring, and merciful God who was manifesting Himself to us in the form of the Mission. I went to work in the Discipleship Program at the Mission for the first 3-4 months, taking care of the grounds and assisting where needed. My wife was guided by the Mission to a school where she studied English and has since improved immeasurably.
Our kids were shy, introverted, and a bit traumatized by former events. It only took a few months at the Mission for them to blossom and begin associating with other kids, staff, and anyone they came across. It brings tears to my eyes to think of how much they have grown.
It was a remarkable experience at the Mission, but I have failed to describe the real joy that has come of it so far. I was permitted to begin looking for work around Christmas time. It was about that time that I developed a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment of my salvation, but it came during the holiday season as I grew closer to Him mainly through His Word and prayer. I had always viewed prayer as childish and unnecessary but I grew to understand the impact that Christ has had on our world and in my life – I developed a deep sense of my need of His guidance and grace.
Soon after giving my life to Christ, all kinds of doors began to open. I found a great job as a salesman at a software company and began excelling at my position. After six months of working and saving, our family and finances had completely turned around and stabilized.
Today, I am earning more money than I ever have and am being considered for a promotion that could increase my salary to almost six digits. I have built a foundation for us with the help of the Mission and with Jesus Christ as my guide. We found a place to live in Kissimmee and moved out of the Mission on July 1,2013.
Without God’s grace and mercy through the Mission, I really don’t know where we would be right now. I may be in jail or dead and my family would be without their husband and father. The spiritual guidance we received at the Mission was the catalyst in this process. Thank God for the Mission teaching us accountability, self-sufficiency and the love of Christ.
Shortly after Scott found stability for his family at the Mission, he found Jesus Christ. Help create more stories of transformation through your support today. Your gift of $26.82 provides a hot meal and life-changing care for a homeless man, woman or child in Central Florida.