I was around 5 years of age when my mother gave me up to foster care. Life was tough for me at a young age. Having to grow up in foster homes, I never felt I was like other kids. I felt I had to hide this fact in order to be accepted and to fit in.
Foster parents never let me forget that I should be thankful for anything they did for me or gave me. They made it quite clear that I was different from their own children. This only reinforced my insecurities.
When I reached my teen years, my environment became so oppressive, I felt my only escape was to join the military. I had a moderately successful career and even got married. During this time, I began to use drugs and alcohol. I was unable to handle the pressures of marriage, military and substance abuse. So I was eventually discharged from the Army for drug use, and then was separated and divorced from my wife.
I lost everything and felt abandoned by everyone. The next 18 years were spent in and out of different programs and in and out of homelessness, finally culminating in going to prison for obtaining property under false pretences.
While in prison, and feeling what a waste my life had become, some Christian brothers reached out to me. They showed me care, concern and love. They didn’t care whether I grew up in foster homes. They didn’t condemn me for getting kicked out of the service or not maintaining my marriage. I was beginning to feel what acceptance felt like.
Through fellowship with them and reading the Bible, I came to understand the battle that had been raging in me my whole life.
After learning that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins, I came to know Jesus as the Lord of my life and the Savior of my soul. That I could start fresh was just what I needed to hear.
Though I only had four and a half months to serve, I was in no hurry to go back to the old environment I had left. I knew that I needed structure and guidance in order to start rebuilding my life. Along with many other organizations, I wrote the Durham Rescue Mission asking for help.
God answered my prayers. The prison van let me off at the front gate. With the counsel of Mr. Cole, my pastor, Rev. Gamble, and the Victory Program, God has blessed me with the opportunity to rebuild my life. I have a warm, dry place to live and plenty to eat, unlike many times in the past. The Mission has provided not only an opportunity to work and save money, but also much needed spiritual guidance that will help me make good choices, and be a contributor to society, not a burden.
Today, I am thankful to be working as the manager of the Durham Rescue Mission’s Brier Creek Thrift Store. I am happily married and enjoy attending my home church with my family. I am so thankful that others cared enough for a fellow who grew up in foster care thinking no one cared, and gave me the opportunity to have my shattered life mended.