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Guest Stories

Alvin’s Story

After 30 years of marriage with more than its fair share of bumps, Alvin found himself in a predicament that he had never imagined: he was getting divorced. And to top it off, he had been battling diabetes for quite some time. It was starting to take a toll on one of his legs, making it hard for him to work or get around. Without his wife to help him, he turned to his daughter for a place to stay as his marriage came to an end.

The arrangement worked out well for them both for nearly six years. It was during this time that Alvin lost his leg to diabetes and the once hard-working man was forced into a wheelchair. No matter though, because with the help of his daughter and a prosthetic leg on the horizon, he was confident he would be able to walk again someday.  His daughter grew into a mature woman, she married, and eventually they became pregnant with a sweet little bundle of joy. With space being tight, Alvin knew that his time there had run its course, and they decided that it was best that he left and let his daughter focus on building a family of her own. He was sad to leave, but so happy to see her growing, so he was optimistic for the future. The question now was, where was he to go?

The answer was Gospel Rescue Mission. And it wasn’t long after checking in that Alvin finally received his prosthetic leg and started rehabilitation services to get the hang of it. Only three weeks in, and he’s already pushing himself to stand and walk more on it because he knows that the faster he adjusts to his new leg, the faster he can get back to what he truly loves to do: cars.

Once featured in a prominent hot rod magazine, Alvin has a deep-seated passion for all things auto. He specializes in modifications with custom paint jobs, sound systems, and fabrications. He was so enthralled in the lifestyle before the issues with his leg that he was able to meet many folks that ran in the auto-restoration arena, including Gas Monkey’s Richard Rawlings (he even signed the dashboard of his truck!). With two of his own trucks on stand-by just waiting for his magic touch, Alvin is more than excited to get the use of his leg back so he can finish them and eventually get back out there on his own two feet.

His positive attitude is so refreshing! Despite his challenges, he continues to look toward the future, and for Alvin, the future is bright!

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Guest Stories

“Edward’s” Story

The picturesque town of Eufaula was exactly what Edward needed to get his life back on track. Stumbling into a tough situation, he had to leave his home and moved in with some friends in the quiet little lake town. After some time though, he learned that what he thought were his friends, were more like his frenemies. The constant fighting and bickering turned into an epic explosion, forcing Edward out of the home. With nowhere to go, Edward was in a tight spot. Someone told him about Gospel Rescue Mission, but it was all the way in Muskogee. With no transportation, his only choice was to make the 21-hour walk down highway 69.

At that time, back in 2012-2013, the Mission was much different than it is now. It was the wild wild west, with very few rules to keep order, and personal accountability wasn’t even a thought. It was the typical shelter lifestyle with most of its guests content to live in the shelter. No rules, total freedom, no bills to pay, and without a gentle encourager pushing them to be their best, there wasn’t a lot of life change happening at that time. The homeless were being clothed, sheltered, and fed, but it wasn’t enough to really move toward change. Edward was bothered by the lack of motivation in his fellow bunkmates, and he was determined to change his current situation.

He immediately went to work, building up to truck driving, and eventually even owned his own rig; not bad considering where he had just come from. Feeling like his life was finally in order, he started a relationship with a sweet lady. Wanting to escape the small town of Muskogee and go to the bigger city of Tulsa where there would be more opportunities for her, they moved to T-Town, but they were in for a shock. Housing rates were triple that of Muskogee, and the cost of living was drastically different. To make the finances work, they had to settle for a sketchy part of town riddled with gang violence and crime. Neither one felt safe at all, and they quickly learned the meaning of sleeping with one eye open. It wasn’t long before they were eager to return to the slower pace of Muskogee, and they happily moved back.

Things were going well for a while, but her family were not the biggest fans of Edward. They drove a wedge between them that they couldn’t overcome, and she finally decided that it would be best to move back home. Alone again, and this time unemployed due to a bad wreck that caused him a severe injury limiting his ability to walk, Edward found that holding all the bills together by himself was impossible. So, when he had exhausted all his other options, he knew where he could go to pick up the pieces and start again: Gospel Rescue Mission.

When he came in for orientation though, things were not quite as he remembered them. It was a new location for starters. Well-maintained and sparkling clean, it was a far cry from the shabby old building he had last seen. “The new GRM is incredible for the amount of care and attention that staff pays to the guests.” While we have more rules now, and we are constantly working to inspire our guests to live their best lives, some things haven’t changed: our love for God, our foundation of faith, and our desire to help those in need in the very best ways possible. Edward is appreciating the changes and hopes to get back on his feet even sooner than before, despite his injury. He is currently seeking employment, hopefully as a driver again. Until then, he is working on the Hospitality and Safety team in our Work Tract Program and building up his clerical skills. 

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Guest Stories

Amber’s Story

Amber (Left) on intake (Right) 3 weeks of sobriety

Her past was riddled with drug addiction. She never could remember counting any days that she might’ve been sober, it all just kind of ran together. Amber was brought to her breaking point when the condition of her mental state started to deteriorate. She had no place to go and was desperate to quiet her mind and get some focus so that she could pull her life back together. She turned to a mental health facility for answers.

While they couldn’t provide her with the right solution at the time, they did give her a crucial tool that she could use. They referred her to us here at Gospel Rescue Mission. Using our connections with local agencies within our community, such as Green Country Behavioral Health, Amber was able to get help for her mental health, and they were finally able to find a medication that worked for her. As she sat telling her story, you could visibly see the difference in her behavior, and see that she was more calm than in previous conversations. The difference wasn’t just in behavior, but in her appearance, and her heart, as well.

Meets Mondays at 6 pm in the Bankston Chapel or on Facebook Live

She recently rededicated her life to Christ during the Easter service. While she is in the baby stages of Christianity and beginning to build that relationship with God, she is eager to learn more about Him and to be closer to Him. She attends Celebrate Recovery and Freedom Club and enjoys the spirit she feels while she’s worshiping. We’re so glad we are getting to join her as she takes the next steps in her faith! And speaking of next steps, Amber is also getting close to receiving her chip for being 1 month drug-free!

Clean now for 3 weeks, sobriety looks great on Amber! When we showed her the picture taken at the time of her check-in 2 weeks ago, she burst into tears. “I’m so proud of myself,” she cried. “I can do this. All I need is the chance.” That is what we are able to provide here at GRM. We can’t promise that every guest’s story will turn out sunshine and roses, not even Amber’s, but we can guarantee that every guest will have the chance for that happy ending, because at Gospel Rescue Mission, Opportunity is Guaranteed.

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Guest Stories

Jeffrey’s Story

As far back as he could remember, he had always had an addiction to drugs. He remembered lighting his first joint at the age of only 8 years old. It was after his mom passed away when he was 18 that things really started falling apart for Jeffrey. It wasn’t just the physical part of his life, but his mental health also, was slipping away. Before long, he found himself cold and shivering in the rain with no home, no car, and no job.

Freedom Club is our addiction recovery group. Mondays 6pm in the Bankston Chapel or you can view it live on Facebook.

He thanked God for the night that the weather was just so bad that he couldn’t handle the cold anymore and decided to come to GRM for warmth. That was the night that would forever change his life. Renewing his faith in Christ, staying sober, and staying away from the wrong crowd, he’s focused on taking care of himself and staying out of trouble.

As he shared some of his struggles with his mental health disabilities, he reflected on his attitude towards his friends and family when they confronted him about his drug addiction. “I’ve lost a lot of good friends because of my drug use. I thought they were the bad friends, but it turns out I was the one being the bad friend.” It’s so common when we are in the midst of the battle or struggle that we have a tendency to shoot the messengers that only mean well for us. Take the Prophet Jeremiah for instance. When he shared God’s message of destruction for His people because they were disobeying, instead of looking at all they themselves were doing wrong, they tried to kill Jeremiah. Fortunately, Jeffrey has been able to see more clearly since being sober and starting a plan for his mental health, and he can see where he might not have been viewing those conversations from the right angle.

Forging Past the Felony is our support group helping those with a Felony to build a character that wipes away their past.

He is currently taking things slow, moving towards healing, and building a solid foundation for himself. Sobriety is a top priority, so he attends Celebrate Recovery and GRM’s Freedom Club weekly. He began working with Green Country to get a better handle on his mental health. He hopes to someday get his GED and become a fully functioning member of society as he moves away from relying on his disability checks and becoming more self-sufficient as a worker in the community.

If you or someone you know is in need of addiction recovery support, Celebrate Recovery at New Hope Assembly and Boulevard Christian Church, as well GRM’s own Freedom Club, are great starting points to help you on the road to recovery. You don’t have to do it by yourself.

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Guest Stories

Robert’s Story:

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/

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Guest Stories

Leslie’s Story

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.

Freedom Club is live on Facebook @grmmuskogee Monday nights at 6pm

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.

Sign up for the next class to help overcome your record Classes are Tuesdays at 11 am. Call 918-682-3489

“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. 

Our Workstart program is open to the community. If you are ready to get back to work or simply want to learn the skills to get a better job. Call 918-682-3489 and ask for Charolette

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.

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Guest Stories

Stanley’s Story

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.

Getting Ahead When Getting Out is a 4 week course to help you overcome the challenges that come with having a felony. Call 918-682-3489 Ext 101 to learn more or sign up for the next class.

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!

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Guest Stories

Tanya’s Story

“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.

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Guest Stories

Ann’s Story

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!

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Guest Stories

Julia’s Story

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.