After serving in Afghanistan and barely making it out alive, Robert came back with more damage than he realized at first. Aside from the PTSD and depression from losing so many comrades, he discovered years down the road that the chemicals he had been exposed to overseas weren’t just any chemicals. For him, and many of his troop, they were a slow death sentence.
It wasn’t until after his ten-year marriage ended in divorce that his health started becoming a real problem for him. He suffered multiple heart attacks and strokes, and a broken leg nearly spelled death for him. Not sure of what could be happening, he reached out to his friends, some who had served with him, and he discovered that many of his war buddies were suffering from the same issues, and some had even died. He took this information to his doctor, and the best guess they could give him is that a certain type of mustard gas that his troop had been exposed to could’ve been to blame, and there was no cure to the issues he was dealing with. It was a tough blow.
He was in and out of the hospital for a couple years before things got progressively worse, and it was no longer safe for him to live on his own. Despite being a disabled veteran, he has found it challenging to find placement in a nursing home, so he’s been with us here at GRM until they are able to get him settled somewhere. When he was first checked in, he told us that his doctor had given him only a few weeks to live, but he promised to be great guest in the meantime. It was shocking news.
While his health has been steadily declining, he has been with us off and on between his hospital stays for a few months now. In spite of his grim prognosis, his attitude has remained sunny and bright. After all, it was several months back that he was given a few weeks to live, and yet, it’s been God’s will that he’s still here. He is very close to the Lord, and while he’s accepting of his condition, he also knows that God is the God of miracles, and this whole ordeal has strengthened his relationship with the Lord.
He has met many great people along the way, had the opportunity to experience love, and the joy of being a father of four and a grandfather of two. He’s got to dip his toes in the warm white sands of Marco Island, feel the strength and honor that comes from defending our great nation, and he feels no regret that he has literally put his life on the line so that his children and grandchildren will be able to truly know freedom. He’s connected with other veterans and people in our community, forming many relationships that he hopes will carry him through his final days. “Don’t give up,” he says often, and he is definitely a poster child for that! Even on his worst days, his friendly smile and warm words are enough to lift anyone’s spirits, and our staff has been so grateful that God has allowed us to be part of his incredible journey.
Keep our nation’s veterans in your prayers as their battle continues beyond the war field with PTSD, depression, physical disabilities, and other conditions resulting from fighting for our country, our freedom, and our families. If you or someone you know needs additional support, you can find it at https://www.maketheconnection.net/
As a child, we don’t really understand how our environment shapes us and molds us in either a positive and productive way or in a harmful negative way. For Leslie, the slums of the big city where drugs and criminal activity ran rampant, had a deep impact, not just on her, but her entire family. Not a person she lived with was sober or clean, and as she grew up, she too turned to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with her problems. Addiction had control of her before she had ever even begun to really live.
She moved to Texas, had three children, but because of her life in addiction, she lost custody of them. She was devastated, but without ever building any proper coping skills, the only way she knew to fix the pain was to dive deeper into her addiction. She was in a full tailspin.
It wasn’t until a few years later when her sister hit rock bottom and went to prison that she knew something had to give. That affected her deeply, and she started to realize that she needed to find a better path in life. She decided to start taking steps toward sobriety. While she struggled to ever get fully clean, she was making a lot of progress from where she had been a short time ago. And this is where we find Leslie today as she checked into Gospel Rescue Mission. Freshly sober for the first time in years, she’s ready to give all that life up and develop new strategies to help her deal with her grief and cope with the traumas from her past.
“I’ve been to several shelters, but this place is so different,” she said. “It feels good to know I’m someplace where someone actually cares enough to hold me accountable.” She’s working on getting her IDs, something she had been without for years, preventing her from finding any solid employment, and our Work Start Program is providing job training to help her develop a positive work ethic to carry her far into the future. She is also working with Green Country to help her get a better grip on her mental health. And while Leslie has a solid plan for her future, we are also prepared for the hardest part of the road ahead of her.
There comes this peace after a few weeks of being sober, where you feel invincible, like you’ve got sobriety under control and nothing can shake you. But it’s during this time that you are actually the most vulnerable. The devil uses it to trick you, and he whispers to you, “Hey, you’re feeling a little sick. Just have one hot toddy, you can handle it!” And you think, “Yeah! I can handle it!” But one drink becomes two, then three, then you’re back in the weeds of your addiction, starting all over again. It’s a slippery slope.
We are here to guide our guests and provide support to them as they are navigating this treacherous part of the path. With classes like our Freedom Club at 6pm Monday nights, and Celebrate Recovery at New Hope Baptist Church, plus a slue of other addiction recovery groups, we have many support teams in our community ready to help our guests to get through it. By showing them the love of Christ and helping to hold them accountable to the goals they’ve set for themselves, we can help them find their way to the road to recovery through the transforming power of the Gospel.
If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, there are many resources available right here in Muskogee and our surrounding areas. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Contact GRM at 918-682-3489 for more information about our program or information about Celebrate Recovery at New Hope (Fridays at 7pm) can be found at https://www.newhopemuskogee.com/our-ministries.
Stanley was a pretty regular guy. But like they tend to do, drugs turned everything on its head. He got involved with the wrong people, and before he knew it, he ended up the target of a local gang. He ended up in jail, and he found himself asking, “How did I ever let it get this bad?” He hit his knees, right there in the jail cell and just prayed that God would help him out of this one. And what seemed like all at once, he felt a calm on him. It was the most peaceful calm he’d ever felt. And in that moment, he realized that all the worrying in the world wouldn’t make his situation better. Only God could do that.
After being released, he continued to live in the peace. Despite the constant threat of gang retaliation, he refused to give another thought to his old life. He wanted to move forward, and leave the past lying in the dust. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be that easy for Stanley, because not long after, a stroke left him comatose and on life support for seven days. But just like the peace he had felt in jail, the same peace was with him in the hospital, and he knew that God was carrying him. Moreover, his mental health, which required him to have a payee that could receive his checks and help him to pay his bills, seemed to have miraculously improved! He had never felt better!
He had an opportunity to reunite with family, and he jumped at the chance for a fresh start. Different state, different mindset, different setting, different Stanley. Because Stanley needed a payee though, this vulnerable state made him an easy victim, and sadly, some of his family preyed on that and stole money from him, leaving him in an even worse position after terminating his payee’s rights. Now without an assigned payee, and not trusting of anyone else to fill that role, Stanley doesn’t have access to any of his benefits. Getting through the red tape of it is proving to be a challenge, even for the many agencies he is working with.
It’s not slowing him down though, and his positive attitude radiates here at Gospel Rescue Mission. He is officially a member of the custodial team, but to stay busy and help where he can, Stanley also volunteers in our Hospitality and Safety department. Since being here, he has decided to keep his focus on God and building his relationship with Him. “I want to be a good person inside and out.” As Stanley continues to work on his financial situation, spiritually, it’s easy to see that he’s growing.
Unfortunately, these kinds of stories of people taking advantage of the mentally disabled is all too common. We work with our community’s agencies to help these folks address their mental health concerns and provide them with a way to get through the red tape. Imagine being released from jail, only to realize that you have no home, no IDs, and no transportation? How do you even begin to get a driver’s license so that you can work? How do you even start to pay off your court fines if you can’t get a job because you don’t have proper identification? It can be overwhelming, even for those who don’t face the challenges of mental health. GRM is here to help get our guests connected with the right people. With you help we can tell Stanley and others like him that at GRM Opportunity is Guaranteed. Thanks for all your support!
“I just wish everyone could see me the way I used to be,” she said as she shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Tanya was vivacious, full of energy and life, but you could see it in her mannerisms that she suffered from a lot of pain. Despite several attempts to find career paths that would accommodate her health conditions, she kept coming up empty handed, and eventually she lost her home, and came to Gospel Rescue Mission. So how did it come to this?
She had grown up in a strict household with a mother who prided herself on being tidy, organized, and well-mannered. Of course, she expected her daughter to be just as lady-like, but the more she tried to force it on her, the further Tanya drew back from those expectations. She fell in with the wrong crowd and turned to substances to medicate her frustrations. She was in and out of rehabilitation facilities until finally one day, she was done with drugs for good. She knew it was time to start getting her life together. She got a job doing factory work and also decided to go back to school and get a degree in office administration and office management. However, just before finishing her course, her mom fell extremely ill. Requiring round the clock care, Tanya wasn’t able to finish her degree and had to put her career on the back burner to care for her ailing mother. To make matters worse, after four years of steady employment, she was laid off. While she did receive a small severance package, it wasn’t much. Since her mother needed her, she decided to move in with her and stepped into the role of full-time caregiver.
As her mother’s health worsened, Tanya noticed that her own health was also beginning to decline. She suffered from constant pain in her bones and joints plus extremely painful migraine headaches. After multiple doctor visits, she was told that there was metal in her body that was affecting her joints and causing the painful headaches. There was no remedy, and they felt that her time in the factory had been the culprit. While doing even the most basic of chores gave her excruciating pain, she did her best to hold things together, not just for her, but for her mother as well.
Then tragedy hit, and her mother passed away. Tanya, with no income, was forced to sell her mother’s house since she couldn’t afford the upkeep and got a small place of her own. Unfortunately, her bank account had been hacked by someone she believes she knew, and she lost all her funds. Desperate to make money quickly, she relied on the skills her mother had engrained into her all those years ago—housecleaning. Armed with a few cleaning supplies, some homemade flyers, and a cellphone, she decided to start her own cleaning business. She quickly gained a few steady clients, but after the initial launch, the phone seemed to stop ringing. Concerned that something may have been going on, she went to her phone carrier, only to discover that somehow, the person she believed to have hacked her bank account, had also somehow tampered with her phone and all her calls were being directed to another phone line. Not only was she losing business, she felt that she was losing her since of security.
Feeling that the person responsible might also be out to harm her, she decided to start completely over. She came to Gospel Rescue Mission hoping for a fresh start. While she continues to serve her few steady clients, she is working at her maximum capacity considering her health issues.
While disabilities seem to be slowing her down, you can’t count her out just yet. She is nearing the age for social security benefits, and added to her earnings from housekeeping, she feels confident that she will be able to get back out on her own eventually. While it was obvious watching her frail body shifting in her chair that she was in a good deal of pain, it’s her happy spirit that really shines through. “I’m telling you,” she insisted,” if you could’ve only seen me before.”
Here at GRM, we don’t focus on the past though. We look toward the future, and we help our guests see what could be, even when it might seem difficult or challenging, offering them guidance and support every step of the way. We can’t guarantee that they will follow the advice or take the next steps in their plans for the future, but there is one thing we ALWAYS provide. Here at GRM, we can definitely say that Opportunity is Guaranteed.
She was a hard worker in the fast-food industry, management being her area of expertise. She was quite the spitfire, going a hundred miles a minute, providing for her family, and making a name for herself in her small hometown back in Texas. After her children, who were old enough to make their own decisions, had decided to stay with their father, Ann struggled in her career and found herself unemployed. She was able to piece some things together and made it work for a short time, but ultimately, she lost her home and ended up on the streets. That wasn’t her biggest problem, however.
She was growing accustomed to a recurring bout with acute bronchitis. It had been going on for years, but she was able to manage her symptoms, that is, until she found herself homeless. The months she spent during the cold winter months with minimal shelter was wreaking havoc on her lungs. She did her best to ignore the worsening condition, but after a year of life on the streets, the damage had been done. She went into a fit of breathing trouble, unable to catch her breath, and she finally called for an ambulance. When she was finally admitted to the hospital, she was in complete respiratory failure. Her manageable acute bronchitis had now developed into chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). She was devastated.
Over the next 2 months she had made nearly 50 trips to the ER, and lack of medication due to her limited financial resources, made the COPD that much worse. Luckily, her grown daughter who was living in Oklahoma, offered her a lifeline and invited her to come stay with her, her future son-in-law, and brand new grandbaby. Ann was overjoyed! She packed up what she had left and made her way to Oklahoma.
Everything was not sunshine and daisies though. She discovered that her future-son-in-law and her did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of matters, and she quickly realized that her presence there was just making things worse for her daughter and her new family. Ann knew that with her COPD, living on the streets was not an option, but with no way to get back to Texas, and no one else to help her here, she had to do something. She learned about Gospel Rescue Mission and chose to come to us for help.
Ann’s COPD is very noticeable causing strained and labored breathing and limiting her ability to get around. That hasn’t slowed her down much though. On our Hospitality Work Start tract, she is excelling while learning new skills in office administration; something she feels confident she could do even with her health condition. While Ann is working toward getting disability benefits, she is also preparing herself just in case things don’t go as planned. While she is unable to work full-time, she is working towards finding part-time employment in hospitality or office management or administration.
It’s the resilience of our guests that is so admirable. Despite the most challenging of circumstances, our guests can overcome. It is such a privilege to see God moving through the lives of our men and women, bringing hope to the most hopeless feeling situations. Thank you for helping to support these amazing stories!
She suffered years of abuse at the hands of people she was close to, but when God finally freed her and gave her the courage to leave, she found herself a brand-new woman, ready to step out in faith and to trust His plan for her life. She experienced salvation as a teenager but didn’t always walk with the Lord the way she knew He wanted her to. After she had finally had enough at home and realized that her life depended on her leaving, she felt the Lord guiding her, saying that it was her time to go. Without a place to stay though, a good Samaritan brought her here to Gospel Rescue Mission, where she is picking up the pieces and choosing to move forward.
Now that she is free from the shackles of her former life, Julia is focusing on her mental health and working through the traumas that she has endured in her past. While her journey to life after abuse is only just beginning, she is already feeling more at peace and closer to the Lord, and the hope of a brighter tomorrow is evident in every word she speaks. Coming in to our meeting today, she shared with me an incredible dream she had that God was speaking to her and telling her simply to obey. She felt so overwhelmed with this peaceful spirit when she woke up that she just had to share it with me.
Despite her bruises, she’s always been a hard worker with a background in waiting tables, sales, office administration, management, food services, housekeeping, and she was even a tax agent for a season. She’s not sure which direction God will point her in for employment this time around, but rather than chasing dollars and coming up feeling spiritually frustrated, she’s asking for His guidance as she beings the hunt for a new job. “Listening to God is so important. If He says don’t go here or don’t hang around certain people, it’s because he’s protecting you.”
Her faith is carrying her through this next chapter of her life, and we’re so glad that we get to be a part of her healing process. It’s so refreshing to talk with someone so on fire for God, despite their past, despite their current circumstances, and to see that glimmer of hope as they tell you about their hopes for the future. It goes to show, there is life after abuse. Julia is proof.
Imagine being over 2,000 miles away from your family, single, and with a baby. Now imagine that you are about to be evicted. What do you? Where do you go? For Nicole, she had no choice but to return home to a hostile living situation with her older brother and ailing mom. As she made the long journey back home, she wondered, would it better this time around? She was on her way to find out.
Her brother was several years older than she was, and since he had stayed home to care for their mother, who was suffering from several medical conditions, he was granted power of attorney over their mom’s estate. He controlled all the finances, and it was his responsibility to see to it that the funds were put in the right place and all the bills were paid. Since Nicole didn’t have the best relationship with her brother, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to get any financial assistance from her family. At least her and her son would have a safe place to sleep and food to eat until she got back on her feet though.
It wasn’t long after when her mom went in for what should’ve been a fairly simple surgery, however, she wasn’t entirely stable on the hospital bed. She fell over the side and hit her head on the floor. She suffered a triple brain bleed and had to endure more surgeries just to keep her alive. When she was finally stable enough, she had to be put into a nursing home because her condition was beyond what the two siblings could care for on their own. It was at this point that Nicole started to get suspicious of her mother’s financial state, and she decided to investigate.
She got other agencies involved, along with some other family members, to launch a formal investigation, and that’s when everything hit the fan. Accusations were flying back and forth like daggers, until her brother threw one of the most terrible accusations possible: child abuse. She had never laid a hand on him, never left a mark, and no reason to think she ever would. She knew it would be best with everything going on to send her son back to Oklahoma to live with his father. It was just in time too, because the allegations of child abuse against Nicole, and embezzlement against her brother, were starting to catch fire, and it was burning their family down with it.
The investigation against her brother brought to light tens of thousands of dollars that had been fraudulently taken from their mother. Charges were brought against him and the case is still ongoing to this day. In the meantime, the case with DHS against Nicole was ramping up quickly, and she decided it would be best to distance herself from all the drama and return to Oklahoma to be closer to her son.
Unfortunately, in the last few weeks, her mother succumbed to her injuries and passed away. Nicole was crushed at the loss of their family matriarch. And in the midst of this sadness, the ongoing DHS investigation has prevented her from seeing her son in over two months. Right now, Nicole’s focus is to find a lawyer to help her with the DHS issues, and to pick herself up and put herself back together. She has been struggling with mental health because of her situation, but she is not going to let it get her down. She is committed to getting help for herself so that when all this is behind her, she can be best mom that she can possibly be.
Allen was living the life. He had everything he needed plus a job most people could only ever dream of. He was a chef for an NBA basketball team, which allowed him to converse with some of the most well-known players of our time. Previously, he worked as a stagehand and camera man for the WWE, rubbing elbows with several of the big names in the wrestling arena, as well as event centers in Oklahoma City and Nashville. Yes, life was going well for Allen, and he had the house, the car, and the girlfriend to prove it. However, that star-studded life afforded him many inside secrets, especially in the NBA, and the old adage about “loose lips sink ships” proved true for him, costing him his incredible culinary opportunity.
He was quick to rebound though, and he and his girlfriend moved from the big city to quaint little Checotah, OK, where he found a job cooking at a local bar and grill. A far cry from his former lavish lifestyle, things were holding together pretty well considering. Then came the coronavirus. A deadly killer, not just of people, but of the economy, forcing shutdowns of even the smallest towns. The grill closed down and Allen was left without a job and in the middle of a nation-wide crisis where opportunities to work were few and far between. And working at a small-time bar and grill didn’t give him too much of a safety net. After barely making it through their last crisis, they were sure this one would do them in.
It was an entire month before the restaurant re-opened, and he could go back to work, however, they were able to keep everything afloat until his paychecks started coming back in. Tired of the lock down and ready to get back to his normally active social life, he started hanging out with his co-workers. One night, they were out way too late at the casino and ended up getting pulled over. Police searched the vehicle and discovered drugs. The owner of the drugs refused to fess up, so all 4 men were arrested. This was extremely difficult for Allen because as a recovering addict who had been sober for years, and still is, this was the worst way for him to go down.
He served a 6-month sentence, but upon his release, he discovered that he had lost his job, his girlfriend, his home, his car, and she took all of their earthly possessions. He had nothing and nowhere to go. The only thing he could think to do was call on a church for help, but he was turned away. Out on the streets trying to just make it through the next day, our first major cold snap hit and Allen became desperate for help. He went out walking, hoping to find a better shelter for the night, but the cold was sinking deeper and deeper into him until he couldn’t even walk anymore, and crawling became his only option. Then he saw it. A carwash. He knew if he could just make it there, the cover of the stall would give him better protection from the 30-degree temperatures and high wind.
But God had a different plan for him than huddling up in that car wash. He sent an angel-in-disguise, a woman, who saw him desperately crawling through the cold damp parking lot of the car wash and could see that he was in a life-threatening state of crisis. She immediately called 911, and just in the nick of time. His health was so deteriorated that he was hospitalized in Muskogee for a week. Upon his release, with nowhere to go, the hospital brought him here, to Gospel Rescue Mission. Despite how far he had sank, he felt hope as he checked in. Hope for a brighter tomorrow, and the hope that one day he would be able to find his way back to the event centers, serving as a stagehand to the stars.
This Christmas might not be the extravagant ones of his past, but it will be one he, and our other guests, will never forget. As 2020 is finally winding down, the year that will live on in infamy for most of us, this Christmas truly represents hope. It represents a year that saw walking sharks, murder hornets, facemasks, toilet paper shortages, mail-in ballots, and an election for the history books, but it also represents resiliency. We survived. Our guests survived. And if we can make it through all of this, we can make it through whatever 2021 has in store. All we have to do is set our eyes on Jesus. When we focus on God, and not the craziness around us, we can stay focused and stay hopeful. So, this Christmas, let’s not worry about all the madness. Instead, let’s put our eyes on Jesus, and just keep walking forward in His blessings. God bless each of you, because of you GRM is able to give Allen and others new opportunities. Because of you Opportunity is Guaranteed.
It was a different time. Post war, the baby boom was in full swing. With a surplus of babies, both planned and unplanned, illegal selling of children on the black market to parents unable to conceive, became a dark and hidden stain on America’s timeline. If this surprises you, imagine how John’s parents felt when a doctor who was brokering these shady deals, actually sought them out and offered them $500 to part with their new son. Of course, they said no. Despite rejecting the doctor’s offer though, John’s mother had a lot on her plate on top of a newborn.
A mother of eight, she did her best to be the disciplinarian in place of her often-overseas merchant marine husband, on top of all her regular duties as “mom.” Again, it was a different time, and expectations of a mother were much different than today. Having a seven year old daughter who was fascinated by the sight of her little brother, their mom gave her John as a birthday present. Big sis started caring for John like he was her own personal doll to feed, change, rock to sleep, and to care for. From that point forward, his sister became the nurturing “mother,” while his mother took the harder authoritarian role of “father,” driving fear into the hearts of her children when it came time for punishments.
At the age of six, John experienced something that in 2020 would warrant a child services call, but again, these were different times. It was Christmas morning, and his dad was able to be home for Christmas that year. John and his brothers and sisters had woken at 3am with their mother and started opening their presents, while their dad still slept. Pulling out a wind up choo choo train, he was so delighted, he just had to show it off to his brother. But his excitement woke his father, causing him to send six-year-old John to sleep out in the outhouse—in December. His mother quickly brought him a blanket, and she said that everything would be alright in the morning. It’s a wonder he didn’t freeze to death that night. It was then that he realized the most powerful thing he’d ever learned. God alone was his Father, and his “pop” was just the man who sired him. At that point, he developed a true father-son relationship with Jesus. He devoted every waking moment to learning more about the man who died on Calvary and about God who promises to always be there to hold us, even in our darkest moments. That passion for the Lord never failed him, and it continues to this day. In fact, his legal name is incredibly John Saint Divine.
While John’s dad was away working on oil tankers, his mother started losing her grasp on reality. It started with small things, but eventually it escalated to the point where the older kids couldn’t keep her reality in check anymore. One day, their mother started saying that she would hurt the children. John’s oldest brother heard her deranged rantings, as she was asking for a shot gun so she could kill them all. He cleverly deceived her into thinking that he was looking for the gun, while another sibling worked to get all the other children to safety and alert the authorities. He was still a very young child when he and all his siblings were removed from the home and scattered among various family members. Ultimately most of the children landed in an orphanage with authorities unable to reach their father and having sent their mother to an institution. Again, it was different times back then.
Within a year, John’s father returned, and reclaimed the children. The damage had been done though. Being shuffled around, suffering mental and physical abuse, plus the children’s mental state to have their own mother try to kill them, and then be sent into an orphanage, must’ve weighed heavy on them all.
At age 17, John joined the Navy where he served for two years before being honorably discharged. After leaving the Navy, he felt no real course for his life other than his passion for God. Feeling called to a greater purpose, rather than work till he died and achieve no great thing, he preferred life on the streets, where his time was his, and he could spend all his time learning and growing in his faith and witnessing to the other homeless people that he surrounded himself with. Despite being on the streets for most of his adult life, he did have a home from time to time, and during one of these times, God gave him a vision. In his vision, God told him, “If you follow me, you will play as good as the masters.” John became a musician and talented pianist. So in between studying the Bible and spreading the message of the Gospel, he also studied and practiced music.
In spite of his relationship with God, he came out of the Navy with a drinking problem. While he had periods of sobriety, he fell back into his addiction in 1988 when a trauma hit him very hard, and he ended up back on the streets again. He moved from Oregon to Oklahoma, back to Oregon, and places in between. In 2017, he was able to get off the streets through a veterans program while he was in Oregon. It was during this time that he learned that his youngest sister had terminal cancer. He invited her to visit, but she stayed, living out the rest of her days with him. He cared for her all the way up until she passed. And then he was back on the streets again.
The homeless in Corvallis, Oregon had changed though since his last experience with homelessness. They were somehow meaner, and it was more dangerous to be on the streets. It was recently when another homeless person came up from behind him and hit him in the back of the head, inadvertently breaking his neck. All his things were stolen, and he was left for dead, but thanks to the grace of God, he pulled through. He moved back to Idabel to be near family and friends, sensing that the end was near because of his injury. He drank for 3 days straight and no longer wished to live. Concerned for him, the Idabel police department brought him to Saint Francis in Muskogee, the nearest facility providing psychiatric help. After he became stable, they referred him to us, here at Gospel Rescue Mission.
Being a faith-based facility, we are the perfect place for John. It gives him an opportunity to spend time with God in a safe environment that encourages a relationship with the Lord. Our guests might currently be without a home, but that’s not who they are. That is just their current situation. It may have felt to John at times during his 35 years living on the street, that being homeless was a permanent status. But, these are different times.
A final thought he left us with as the interview concluded is that “there is a blessing in everything.” There is a blessing in sleeping in the cold because it can inspire you to better yourself. There is a blessing in going hungry because it drives you to make changes in your behavior so that you don’t go through that again. And there is a blessing when you find a place to lay your head at night, even if it’s a temporary bed at the Gospel Rescue Mission, because instead of just finding food, clothing, and shelter, you’ve found hope, peace, and the love of Christ.
“I’m just so lucky to be here,” she stated repeatedly during her Gospel Rescue Mission interview. She wasn’t lucky to be here at GRM. She meant lucky to be here. On earth. Alive and breathing. She had been close enough to Heaven’s door that she could nearly see the Pearly Gates, but Jesus wasn’t ready for her to come Home just yet. He had a chain of events that He wanted her to experience that would ultimately drive her to her greater purpose. These events would be difficult, at times more than she could bear. But He would be with her every step of the way, this much she knew. This is the story of Christy.
It was five years ago when she was diagnosed with a condition called diverticulitis. In most cases, diverticulitis is mild and something that can be easily managed. In Christy’s case, it was severe, debilitating, and life-threatening. She underwent several surgeries before her last, which nearly took her life. She flatlined seven times during that final surgery, but God had a better plan for Christy. A hundred staples later, she made it through, to the joy of her children and ailing husband. It was truly a miracle. This was just one part of her story though, so let’s start at the beginning.
Her husband, 31 years older than his petite wife Christy, enjoyed traveling. It was one of his greatest passions. They went on cruises and took several trips to Disney World, deep sea diving, and other incredible experiences that most of us could only dream of. He loved his family and wanted to give them the world. Owner of a lucrative water-treatment company, he had opened a few offices across the US, and when he decided to retire, he sold them, and they were able to travel even more. Health issues started to plague the sweet adventurous man though, and soon he was in the hospital battling for his life. He was a decorated Vietnam veteran who had received many accolades and awards to his credit for his service in the United States Air Force. So, when his health started to decline, he picked his favorite VA hospital in Fayetteville to handle his treatment.
It was around that time that Christy started experiencing health issues. Her medical expenses and surgeries proved bank-breaking, and eventually they had to make some difficult decisions about their financial and living arrangements. Because he was a veteran and would receive the best care at the facility there in Fayetteville, he remained put with family nearby to help care for him and the children. For Christy, her Native American heritage would help solve a lot of their financial burdens if she could be closer to tribal health care available in Tahlequah. Being from the small college town in Oklahoma, it was like coming home for her, and she was pleasantly surprised to discover that she still had many friends in the area. So, despite having to leave her family behind, she was looking forward to the future and the adventure that was in front of her. Despite all the positivity that the couple tried to look at in their situation, the inevitable can’t be stopped.
It was July 2020 when her dear husband took his last breath. Christy and the children were absolutely devastated. In the midst of her own health issues and her inability to travel because of it, the family wasn’t able to have the glorious Arlington Funeral with 21-gun salute that Christy and her husband had been planning for years. Because he was so much older than her, his passing was something that her and the children had discussed and had been mentally preparing for their whole lives together. What they hadn’t been planning was for Christy’s health crisis that came out of nowhere, draining their savings, and making her too unstable to travel far. The family decided to cremate him and wanted to do a more proper funeral once Christy’s health was more stable.
In the meantime, the friends that she had been able to house sit for while she was undergoing treatments eventually returned, and having nowhere else to go, and needing to be as close to Native American health care as she could, she resorted to come to Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee while she gets her and her late husband’s financial affairs in order. “I’m just so lucky to be here,” she said again. So grateful for a safe place to lay her head, and more importantly grateful for the air she is able to breath, and grateful for the life the Lord has given her. Christy is working towards getting better, getting her own apartment here, and getting her and her late husband’s benefits lined back out, so that she can one day live independently.
We want to take a moment to thank our donors, for helping to make Christy’s transition easier. While we do have many stories of the addicted or those that haven’t made the best life choices and are working on righting their wrongs, there are many people who find themselves temporarily without a home simply because of a snowball of unfortunate circumstances. If it weren’t for the generosity of those who give, people like Christy would be out on the streets right now, hungry, trying to keep their feet dry and their bodies warm as the cold rain pelts them, much like life has. It must feel so defeating. But here there is hope and direction and a sense of purpose here at GRM. And it’s because of our donors and sponsors that Christy has a warm safe place to lay her head. Thank you! You ARE making a difference!