Learning to Love
Firsthand testimony from Crystal Epps-Jones
Former Resident of O.U.R. Mission Home
When I was 5 years old, my stepfather repeatedly molested me. That incident literally destroyed my life. I learned at an early age that love was tainted. I grew up feeling unloved and unwanted. I suppressed the fact that I was sexually abused for many years and that led me to drop out of school in the 7th grade. I allowed situations, circumstances, and the perceptions of others to overshadow me. Failure became my security blanket because as long as I failed, no one would expect anything else from me.
As a result, I turned to abusive relationships and alcohol to soothe the pain and frustration of my life. I wanted more than anything else in this world to be loved, but I could not find anyone to love me for who I really was. When I had my children, I thought that I had finally found love. I soon realized that they needed me to love them and I didn’t know how. Shortly after the birth of my triplets, I was at the lowest point of my life. I was 21 years old caring for 5 small children, feeling alone, frustrated, and scared and I really wanted to end my life.
Homeless and hopeless, I contacted the Orlando Union Rescue Mission Home (O.U.R. Mission Home) and was given the opportunity to live there. At the Mission, I was challenged to be the woman that God had called me to be, to stop giving up on myself, and to start setting goals. Most importantly, I was taught about the love of God and accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior during my stay. All of the people at the Mission were a family and I gained so much strength because I realized that I was not alone. For the first time I knew that I was loved and accepted.
Since leaving the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, I have graduated Magna Cum Laude from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications. I have been accepted into Graduate School where I plan on beginning studies in Managerial & Leadership with a certificate in Crisis Management. Upon completion of my Masters Degree, I plan to work full time at a university or college and will try to make a difference in the world of education. I am also heavily involved in my church and consider it an honor to be a servant of the Lord. I am the proud mother of 5 very beautiful children. All of my children are saved, athletic, and honor roll students. They all plan on going to college to further their education.
God has been good to me. As I look back over my life words cannot express how grateful that I am to the O.U.R. Mission Home for being there for me when I didn’t have anywhere else to go. The Mission not only gave me a place to stay, food to eat, and clothing to wear, but most importantly they told me about the Lord. The Orlando Union Rescue Mission helped me realize my self-worth and the staff lovingly spent countless hours investing in my life showing me how to love myself as well as my children.
No one wakes up and decides to be homeless, but it is a fact that there are thousands of people in the United States of America who find themselves in this situation. When you give to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, know that you are bringing the word of God to life; Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me…” and for that I will be eternally grateful.