Pulled From the Brink: Ian’s Story
“I was at rock bottom. The only way I could be any lower was if I was dead.”
When Ian walked into the Mission’s Men’s Division emergency shelter in April, he was hungry, hurting and hopeless. For three weeks he had been walking the streets of Orlando, lugging a duffle bag with all his possessions from shelter to shelter and scrounging one meal a day if he was lucky.
The last four nights were the worst. Unable to find a safe place to lay his head and terrified what might happen if he dared to doze, he stayed awake for nearly 100 straight hours. The lack of sleep magnified the depression he had battled since losing his mother, his income and his home – all in the span of a few months.
“I had lost everything I knew in life,” Brooklyn-born Ian recalled. “My mother had become ill and I took care of her full-time for the last five months of her life. She passed away in February. Without her Social Security check, I had no income, and then I couldn’t find a job.”
On his 52nd birthday, Ian was evicted from his apartment and he began his odyssey in a world he never knew existed, much less thought he’d wind up in. But there he was – out on the street, grieving the loss of his mother, fearing for his safety and living on handouts while his depression was getting the best of him.
The way Ian saw it, he had two choices: checking into a mental institution or committing suicide. Fortunately, before taking such a drastic, irreversible step, he stumbled upon a third option. He saw the iconic red cross atop the building on Central Avenue and ventured inside, looking for a meal and a safe place to sleep. He found both – and a whole lot more.
“When I got in here, I finally felt safe … and I felt loved, which is something I realized I was also craving,” Ian said. “I knew right away this is a special place. They showed me the love of Christ from the minute I got here.”
Overnight guests can stay free for seven nights, so Ian was able to eat well and get caught up on his sleep. Towards the end of the week, he learned about the Mission’s Discipleship Program, a long-term work program that provides residents with Christian instruction and mentorship with the goal of getting them back into the work force.
Ian was accepted into the program and today he works five days a week in the kitchen at the O.U.R. Mission Home for Women, Children and Families. Disciples also are required to attend a two-week Victorious Life Class on biblical principles, and that’s where the biggest change in Ian’s life came.
“I was saved when I was 14 years old but I didn’t do much with it because I never got answers to questions I had,” he said. “But this class brought the Bible to life for me. It showed me that it’s not just a book with stories from thousands of years ago – it’s a living, breathing love letter from God. This is where I began my relationship with Jesus Christ.”
As a friend of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, you’ve played a part in the success stories God has written over the last 12 months. Your donations have made it possible to serve more than 300,000 meals, provide nearly 90,000 nights of shelter and care and lead about 1,800 souls to Christ.
For just $26.82, you can provide a day of meals and life-changing care for a homeless man, woman or child. Your gift today could begin the life transformation of the next Ian who walks through our door.