Out of the woods: James’ story
James was used to passing out drunk, but he usually woke up in the woods. This time, he was in a hospital.
“They told me my (blood-alcohol) level was 0.6. That’s enough to kill you,” he says. “I should have been dead, but the Lord let me wake up. And I’m so glad He did.”
Up to that point last August, James didn’t care whether he lived or died. A high school dropout from a broken home, he moved to Central Florida from his native South Carolina four years ago in search of a better life. But things only got worse. He couldn’t find steady work, and he wound up homeless, living in the woods and guzzling a bottle or more of cheap vodka a day.
“I was about as low as you could get. There’s no doubt I’d be dead right now if things hadn’t changed.”
Not that he was ready to change in the hospital. When it came time for him to be discharged, James thought he was going to walk out the door and back into the woods. Instead, he was dropped off at O.U.R. Men’s Home.
“I didn’t want to be there, and I didn’t plan on staying, but then I started listening to other people there. I could feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart. I realized things didn’t have to be the way they were.”
James attended church as a child and had a basic belief in God, but he felt abandoned by Him. After all, where was God when his parents split up, and when he lost his job and had to live in the woods?
Over time, the daily Bible studies, nightly chapel services, and biblical counseling sessions revealed that God was there whole time, waiting for James to ask Him into his heart.
“Instead of seeing the times when I thought God wasn’t there, I saw how he actually protected me and allowed me to get to this point. He kept me from dying in the hospital so I could be saved.”
Once James accepted Christ, he began working towards earning his high school diploma in the Mission’s Career Learning Center. It wasn’t his first attempt.
“I had gone back maybe three or four times and never stuck with it, but that was when I was doing it alone – without God. I knew this time was going to be different.”
James finished his classes and passed all four tests within four months. He and more than a dozen other current and former Mission guests will take part in a graduation ceremony July 2.
“I’m looking into taking some other classes – maybe college or a trade school. I’m also feeling led to share my story about how God has worked in my life. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what He has in store for me.”