Tuesday, September 11, 2001 — do you remember where you were when you heard or saw on television that terrorists had hit the World Trade Center? I will never forget this black day because I was on the streets of New York City looking at the twin towers as the second plane flew with disgusting determination into a building full of civilians. The overall shock of this event still haunts me, along with the nauseating truth that some of my very close friends had died. Instantly, I was changed as I watched this vile act occur before my very eyes.
Through God’s grace and mercy, and the help of Rev. and Mrs. Mills and all the staff at the Durham Rescue Mission, I have become a reborn man in Christ. I am ready to serve Him in any way I can. Praise the Lord!
Up to this point, my life was typical of someone who focused on materialism. I began my career by attending Manhattan College, where I graduated with a BA in Marketing. I worked as a sales executive in the clothing and apparel industry for over 27 years, in New York City and Dallas, TX. During all this time, I drank socially. I was able to function at a high level of competency and thankfully never lost a job. In 1998, with my family raised, I chose to move into a semi-retired position, at the age of 52. I began driving a limousine in the New York Metropolitan area and continued this job until 2001, at which time I witnessed the attacks on the WTC.
The overall shock of seeing and hearing the WTC attacks, coupled with flashbacks of Vietnam and the death of my friends, I found it easy to become a full-time alcoholic with no desire to stop. I soon found myself in North Carolina and for the next three years, my dependency on alcohol increased. I had no desire to work. I lost everything I had in this world: my family, my job, my home, and my dignity. I actually spent 60 days in late 2005 living in my car. Finally, I was arrested on October 31, 2005, and by the mercy and grace of God, and through the compassion of a kind police officer, I was sent to Veteran’s Hospital in Durham instead of jail.
While in the hospital, the chaplain reached out to me and shared the love of God and His plan of salvation. At first, I wasn’t interested, but slowly I began to peek into the Bible he had left for me. One morning, very early, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Since I asked for forgiveness of my sins, every day I submit to His Lordship of my life. I am a ‘saved’ Christian!
After 30 days, I was released from the hospital. I found myself homeless, without even my car in which I had been living. I had no idea where to go; I felt so alone and hopeless. The counselor gave me bus fare to get to the Durham Rescue Mission. As I waited for the bus in front of the VA Hospital, I actually considered throwing myself in front of the bus as I stood on the street crying. I was a new Christian and had much to learn about God and His love for me. Thankfully, He was already guiding my steps — I just didn’t know it!
When I arrived at the Durham Rescue Mission, I stood at the entrance crying. I wondered what would become of me. I had gone from having the world, to only having the clothing on my back, which the hospital and a kind nurse had given to me. My fears were soon gone. I was immediately welcomed into the mission. Very soon, my hopelessness was replaced with a great sense of hope. God had brought me to the place where I needed to be to get the help I desperately needed. My life began to change slowly at first. My dignity was restored and I regained my self-respect. The mission provided me with a roof over my head, food, and clothing, enabling me to begin the long journey of restoring my life. But the greatest thing I received was the good news of God’s love.
After coming to the Durham Rescue Mission, I found out about the ‘Victory Program’ and I applied for admittance. It turned out to be a great decision for me. The Bible study strengthened my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.