Losing It All To Drugs; Gaining It Back With God
“To be blunt, I was disgusting,” Patrick said as he recalls living on the street. “I was hungry, dirty – no one even bothered to look at me because I looked like just another homeless crack head. And they were right.”
Patrick had it all – a house, a job, a car – everything he needed for a happy productive life. But his drug and alcohol use betrayed that sustainability. The addiction slowly chipped away at everything he had – including relationships with his family. “They disowned me. It was horrible … the darkest time of my life.”
With nowhere to turn and stubbornly refusing to get help for his addiction, Patrick took to life on the streets.
Abandoned and lost, he stumbled upon the Mission’s Emergency Shelter for men on Feb. 24, 2011. That night he ran into an old friend he had used drugs with in the past – except his friend was hardly recognizable. Instead of the bloodshot eyes and grimy look of a man ruled by addiction, he was cleaned up and smiling. He was actually helping men like Patrick find a place to sleep and a meal.
At that moment, Patrick experienced something more than just longing for freedom from his despair – he experienced hope that freedom might actually be possible.
“He told me it all came from participating in the Discipleship Program,” Patrick said. He had heard of the program before but wanted nothing to do with it. His addiction had put him on the streets and his stubbornness had kept him there. “But when I saw my friend all cleaned up, something hit me – it was time to turn my life around.”
The following morning, Patrick signed up to participate in the Discipleship Program.
It was not an easy journey to unlearn the habits that had built up over years. “I was hard-headed,” Patrick admitted. “I resisted the structure and rules at first.”
Patrick unknowingly needed something more than a list of rules to follow – he needed the heart change to go with it. The life he had before homelessness had all the appearances of independence and sustainability, but none of the heart principles to keep it that way. The regular chapel services and Bible studies were the places where that change would occur. Initially, he attended only because it was required.
But Patrick slowly realized that the true and lasting source of life-change came from a relationship with Jesus Christ. He saw he could actually trade in his old life for a brand new one. Once he placed his faith in Christ, he began to see that the rules that had been put in place not as a way to limit him, but to set him free to a better way to live.
“Those rules I resisted were just minor things to help you learn what it takes to succeed,” said Patrick.
Patrick spent about 18 months in the Discipleship Program. He worked different jobs around the Mission, such as cleaning, security, or retail. This gave him the chance to learn good work ethic and the value of taking responsibility of his own life. He also formed new friendships that helped him overcome his addiction.
Today, Patrick lives in North Carolina and continues to live out the principles he learned at the Mission. He’s living an independent, God-honoring life from the heart – not just in appearance. He quickly found good friends and a church to be a part of as a way to guard against falling back into his old habits. Since leaving, he met a woman who later became his wife.
“I know now how to put God first and how to put aside what I want for what my family needs, he said.”
Patrick works full-time as a sales representative car dealership while his wife works for a financial firm.
“The Mission helped mold me into who I am today. It was a pit stop that God provided so that I could learn how to break bad habits and what it looks like to be a godly, Christian man. When you put God first, there’s nothing you can’t face!”
Patrick found God through the Discipleship program. The O.U.R. Men’s Division has about 40 disciples who receive intensive Christian instruction and mentorship, along with work therapy designed to develop self-discipline, work ethic and accountability. Your gift of $26.82 provides a day of life-changing care for a man in the discipleship program.