A Life Restored: Chris’s Story – Orlando Union Rescue Mission

A Life Restored: Chris’s Story

 In Newsletter Story, Story, Success Story

Chris Brooks’s transformation from a carefree church kid to a lawbreaker who attacked a police car didn’t happen overnight. It was a painful journey of bad choices, and the catalyst of many of these choices was his use of alcohol, beginning in high school.

As a teenager, Chris prided himself on being the guy who could get underage people into bars. This rebellious ability made him popular among his peers, and it provided an escape from the sadness he faced after losing his mother at 13 and confronting his first issues with mental health. Alcohol and the friendships it brought temporarily relieved his pain, but addiction soon burdened his life and aggravated his mental health struggles.

To better understand his mental health struggles, Chris returned to college and earned a degree in Psychology in 2019. “I had been an alcoholic at that point for at least 15-16 years,” Chris admits, “when COVID hit, it escalated dramatically.” His plans for graduate school were derailed when a night of drunken indiscretion and rage landed him in jail.

After his time in prison, a post-release program recommended Chris apply to live at the Mission. He moved into our work extension housing in January 2022. The process of starting over was painful for Chris — so painful he attempted suicide. Leaders of the Mission who loved and cared for Chris knew radical change was needed, so he was enrolled in our Discipleship program, which required him to quit his job and focus completely on overcoming his addictions.

A year and a half later, Chris’s life has been profoundly transformed. He attributes much of this change to one decision — allowing Christ back into his life. Celebrate Recovery, a twelve-step program for those struggling with addiction and pain slowly convinced this set-in-his-ways atheist to return to his childhood roots and once again rely on the Lord. He credits this decision with his vastly improved mental health, “I owe that to God because I couldn’t have done that. [Doctors and I] had been trying to do it for the last 20-some-odd years.” As of today, Chris has not had any suicide ideation for over a year, a record-breaking amount of time for Chris.

Courses on relapse prevention have helped Chris create the structure and boundaries needed to make the best choices for his future, and he has now been sober from alcohol for over a year and from opioids for two years.

Having completed the Discipleship program, Chris is now actively seeking employment to rejoin our work extension program. He aspires to pursue a master’s in social work, eager to assist men battling addictions in transforming their lives, just as he has.

Once a lawbreaker, Chris has recaptured his childhood practice of traveling on mission trips. He recently participated in one to Kentucky with the First United Methodist Church of Oviedo. Chris’s story is a testament to the immense power true redemption holds in our life. Through your support, Chris has not merely been helped, he is restored. Recognizing this new life is possible only thanks to donors like you, Chris expresses his gratitude: “If it wasn’t for this place, I would not be alive… [Your donations] saved my life.”

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