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Guest Stories

Paco’s Story

Growing up in Louisiana with learning disabilities didn’t make for the easiest life for Paco. ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) combined with Dyslexia was a nightmare, not just for the schools he attended, but also for his single mother. He was in trouble frequently in school, not because he wasn’t smart, but because he couldn’t stay focused. He was just more of a hands-on kind of kid that loved physical work and being in church instead. Saved at the age of 8, he had a strong faith in the Lord that propelled him into his teenage years, helping him to stay positive despite the tough situations he always seemed to find himself in. At 13 years old, life started taking a turn when God sent a true angel into his path.

The preacher at the church he attended took a shining to Paco, seeing a lost youth and wanting to help in any way he could. Paco was at church every time the doors were open, and the preacher started to take on that fatherly role and positive male role model that Paco needed in his life at the time since his father hadn’t been in the picture since he was three. The two quickly became like peas in a pod, much to his mom’s relief. Despite this new friendship he had found, he couldn’t seem to get a grasp on his schooling, and the trouble he got in continued to mount.

Feeling like a fresh start would be just the ticket the boy needed to get his life on track, the preacher had a bold idea. He had been offered a position he just couldn’t refuse right here in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He knew in his heart that if he left Paco behind, things would get much worse for him and his mother, so in a crazy idea that could’ve only come from God Himself, the preacher decided to ask Paco’s mother for permission to take him on his new adventure to Oklahoma. At her wits end with his behavior in school and seeing how beneficial the friendship had been for Paco, she agreed. They went to court that Monday, and she signed guardianship over to the preacher. It was a sad moment, but the future was looking much brighter for everyone on the other side of the storm they had been trying to weather. Although she had given up her custody, she was still his mother, and they continued to have a strong relationship, keeping in touch through phone and letters until her death 5 years ago.

In his new home in Muskogee, Paco was thriving. Even though he still didn’t graduate high school, despite the change of scenery, he was being exposed to so many other things he didn’t have a chance to learn about in his old life. He started raising chickens and working with horses and discovered that he had a real connection with animals. He met a girl he was absolutely crazy about and at age 19, he married her. They had 2 little boys together, and things were going great. Eventually, Paco decided to go to Tulsa Welding School, graduated with a certification in welding, and then went into truck driving school, where he also graduated, earning his CDL. At last, the storm was finally starting to clear, and he could see the bright rays of sunshine coming through.

Unfortunately, the sun wouldn’t be out forever, and before he knew it, the rain clouds were back again, threatening everything he had built. He was working for a privately owned trucking company, and even owned his own truck. Part of his routine was to inspect his truck and trailer at certain intervals. During an inspection of the company-owned trailer, he discovered that the load lock was damaged, and was sure to include that in his report. When he spoke with the owner about it, he brushed it off, and had him continue with work as normal. Not long after Paco had pointed out the damaged load lock, he was in the trailer when the load lock failed, causing it to drop down straight onto his head. He had a severe gash and was knocked out cold for some time before the sound of someone calling for him brought him back to consciousness. He went straight to the owner, but the owner said he would probably be fine and basically to get back to work. But Paco was NOT fine.

Within the first 3 days following the accident, Paco began having intense migraines, feelings of nausea and dizziness, and on the 3rd day, he fell into an all-out seizure. He was rushed to the emergency room, where it was discovered that the gash was extremely bad, causing a severe brain injury. Now Paco’s life was in real danger, having gone so long without medical treatment at the request of his boss. Eventually, he was stabilized though and released from the hospital, but the ultimate damage of the failed equipment wasn’t as quickly remedied. He began suffering from chronic migraines and seizures, making working nearly impossible. He knew he had to take action.

He got to work finding a lawyer, and eventually, he went to court over the accident and won his case. His settlement helped, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the trauma and agony that he would continue to go through the rest of his life. It was a bittersweet victory, but in true Paco-Fashion, he trusted in God to provide and continued to move ahead. His wife and children were there beside him, and after the settlement, they decided to move to Okay to recover from the devastating blow. It was a wonderful blessing being out in the rural area, and since he was unable to work, he finally had time in life to focus on other things. He got back into raising ducks and chickens and being with the animals gave him so much joy. After a while, a friend approached him saying that he should run for the city council, and he decided to go ahead and throw his hat in the ring. He was elected, and it was like a new spark was lit. He started up an annual Christmas Parade, a catfish contest, conducted many fundraisers in the town, and he was even tasked with signing city workers paychecks. He was finally feeling like he was in a good spot.

Sadly though, those pesky rain clouds came back, viciously raining on his parade. Due to his chronic seizures, he lost not only his CDL, but his driver’s license in general due to his seizure disorder and had to sell his semi-truck that he was so incredibly proud of. He felt like not only had he lost his license and his truck, but he lost his manhood. He was absolutely crushed. Although the settlement came, it wasn’t enough to provide for him and his family long-term, and they had to sell their rural home and move in with his in-laws in the city. When it rains, it pours though.

He got into an altercation with a police officer that he knew personally, things got out of hand, and Paco pushed the officer. He was arrested for assault on an officer and was given 2 years’ probation. He lost his seat on the city council and a downward spiral ensued. He ended up getting divorced, lost everything, and with no home, he decided his best course of action was to go down to the river and try his hand at living off the land. He had his service dog Izzy with him, who senses seizures and protects him during an episode, but the storm of life he was in was coming to a head. He woke one morning, only to discover that Izzy was nowhere to be found. He searched high and low for her, but to no avail. He was absolutely crushed. Little did he know that the storm was just God’s way of diverting a true miracle into his life. His name was Mark.

A few days later, a friend came to the river looking for Paco with the best news he’d heard in quite some time. Someone had posted on Facebook that they had found Izzy and were keeping her safe until her owner could be found. The friend recognized her and immediately went to find Paco down at the river. As if by a God-ordained miracle, it was none other than a GRM staff member, Mark, who had found sweet Izzy running around lost. He returned her, and the two men became quick friends, bonding over the gentle and loving pit bull mix that was Izzy. Over the next couple years, Paco had a mix of some rain and some sunshine, but Mark and his wife, Mitzi, were there as part of his support circle, helping to care for Izzy from time to time as storms moved through Paco’s world.

At long last, the clouds started to part, and there was a beam of sunlight coming through named Judy. She was lovely, grounded, and everything Paco needed at the time. He fell head over heels in love with her. Eventually, he and Izzy moved in with her, and it was like everything was finally right in the world. But as bad weather often does, it came rolling back through when Judy passed away suddenly from a stroke. Within weeks, he had nowhere to live, and was back at the river. God was about to move in a big way though.

When Paco told Mark and Mitzi what had happened with Judy, they hurt for him, and for Izzy. In the heat of June, when temperatures were reaching 120 degrees with the heat index, and Izzy being 8 years old, 56 years old in dog years, they knew the hot Oklahoma sun wasn’t any good for her, and it was time for Paco to seriously consider checking into the mission. If not for himself, then for her. Mark and Mitzi helped pay for Izzy’s shots so that she could accompany him at GRM and helped the two get settled here. It was a real God moment. Now Paco is staying sober, keeping to himself, and working on getting on disability for his seizure disorder. He is happy to be an environment where he can feel close to God and continue building his relationship with Him. His big goals for the future? Find a quiet little house for him and his girl, Izzy, and stay positive in life, no matter what weather comes his way.

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Ernest’s Story

After losing a leg due to a complication from diabetes, Ernest was finding it hard to pick himself back up. He had lost his job in management at a restaurant due to the mobility issues caused by his wheelchair, and without a job and no way to provide for himself, he turned to family for help.

Not only did he need financial help, but he also needed someone to care for him. Fortunately, his ex-wife, who remained on good terms with him after the divorce, stepped into help. Over the next 4 years, Ernest started working towards regaining mobility, and a couple months ago, he finally received his prosthetic leg. Things were finally starting to look up for Ernest.

Unfortunately, it’s always darkest before the dawn. His ex-wife suddenly had a health emergency which caused them to eventually leave their home, so Ernest came here to Gospel Rescue Mission while she received the care she needed. Once being the person who needed care himself, Ernest is working harder than ever to gain stability so that he can return the favor and be that care provider for her once she’s released. It’s going to be a long road, but he’s committed to doing what must be done.

Ernest picked himself up and went full-speed ahead into learning how to use his new prosthetic leg. He is working with his doctor so that he can begin physical therapy in the coming weeks, and he’s confident that in no time, he’ll literally be back on his feet again and ready to enter the workforce. He’s making the best of his situation and learning new skills at our front desk, and despite his passion for cooking and management, he is preparing himself for the possibility of an office job instead, which might be more conducive to his disability. His positive attitude is absolutely refreshing and despite his circumstances, he knows he has the power to overcome!

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Guest Stories

Bobby’s Story

After a skiing injury in his young adult years threatened his future, his hope for a financially sound life was found, sadly, after his father passed away. The inheritance, which included 15 rental properties, should have been enough to give him a second start. However, a scandalous turn of events flipped those hopes upside down, leaving Bobby wrapped up in legal red tape so thick, he was penniless despite the wealth he came from.  

Bobby’s father was a prominent housing developer in Oklahoma City. He owned many properties, including a gorgeous estate with a private entrance to the nearby lake, often used by Olympic skiers for practice, and eventually becoming one of the national sites for Olympic Trials. Bobby rubbed elbows and received tips on his favorite past-time, skiing, from some of the world’s most renowned skiers. Even former Olympian, Michael Morgan, was considered a friend of the family. Growing up in this competitive environment, Bobby was quick to latch onto skiing and progressed quickly with his skill in water sports. While it was never his goal to compete, it was a hobby he passionately loved, but one that bit back. Years of skiing and injuries compounded, ultimately leaving him with four knee surgeries and a hip injury, resulting in one of his legs being nearly 3 inches shorter than the other. Up till that point, he had been a dedicated worker in landscaping and paving, even owning his own bulldozer and tractor. After the loss of his dad, then his mother only a few years later, on top of the injuries, Bobby lost the will to keep pushing forward, lost his equipment, and lost hope.

A portion of father’s estate went to Bobby and a portion went to his sister. In his mother’s ailing condition and after her passing, unknown events gave his sister complete control of the estate and management of the properties, in essence, leaving Bobby with nothing. Although he tried to fight it in the court system, he had no money to pay for lawyers, and his hands were tied. With his disability, and no way to be able to provide for himself, eventually, he found himself homeless in 2010, causing a downward spiral into drugs that he thought couldn’t be stopped. Until he found Gospel Rescue Mission.

Now, 7 years sober, and rededicated to Christ, he says, “God is working for me, and he’s telling me to help others who can’t help themselves.” He shared with us before telling his story that he had finally been approved for housing and was looking forward to moving into a place of his own soon. We are so happy to report that the very next day, his bags were packed, and he was finally moving into his own apartment. It makes our hearts happy to see one of our guests getting to go out into the world sober, confident, and prepared for a life of independence. It’s about finding God, growth, hope, and opportunity, because here at GRM, Opportunity is Guaranteed.

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Guest Stories

Eric’s Story:

What do you do when life flips you upside down, Kung Fu style? You check into Gospel Rescue Mission, start training, then get back out there, and show it what you’re made of: the kind of faith that can move mountains, the hard work it takes to dig out of the deepest hole, and the determination to see it through, no matter how fierce the opponent. Or at least that’s what Eric’s doing. Here’s his story…

Eric was a licensed plumber with a degree in electrical construction as well. Knowledgeable in all areas of handy work, he was the guy you wanted on your team. After some time, he decided to start his own business teaching others these highly sought-after traits while also building up a company based on excellent customer service and a high moral foundation. And things were rocking and rolling. He began branching out into commercial projects, eventually landing work in a hotel. Word spread like wildfire about how good his company was, and before Eric knew it, he was servicing multiple hotels with new builds, maintenance, and other things, allowing him to put all of his focus on this highly lucrative industry. Life was good.

As he began working on a hotel project worth nearly three quarters of a million dollars, things were beginning to go sideways with the client. After a good-sized portion of the build had been completed, the owner began to change his mind on the layout of the build. Over the course of the project, the owner had requested nine different plan changes, which added more and more to the cost of the project, not to mention going back over work that had already been done, tearing it out and starting over in spots. Eric finally reached the point where the contract needed to be renegotiated to allow for extra expenditures because of the owner’s frivolous requests. The owner refused to renegotiate, putting Eric in a very uncomfortable position. If he executed the current plan, assuming there would be no more changes which was obviously an uncertainty, he would barely break even on the project that had already consumed weeks of his time. It was time to cut the cord.

In a twist of events that he never saw coming, his lead journeyman resigned and went into his own plumbing business with the well-connected hotel owner. All of the other hotels that Eric had been working with followed the lead of their hotel-owner friend, leaving Eric high and dry and holding an unpaid invoice worth over $700,000 and bills from his suppliers stacked to the ceiling from the material costs that were incurred during the project. He had one credit card left that wasn’t maxed out, and he decided to hire a lawyer and fight for what was owed to him. The response from his lawyer and the officials that were involved was mind-blowing.

The lawyer, at first gung-ho about the case and excited to get to work, suddenly called saying he could no longer represent him but couldn’t explain why. The inspectors that came out to check his work and document the progress before Eric could officially pull off the job, suddenly became less willing to help in Eric’s case. The whole thing was falling apart at the seams. In the meantime, his suppliers were cancelling his accounts, his credit cards were going to collections, and his equipment was having to be sent back. Although he landed a contract with a gas station chain which was a true blessing from God, without equipment, suppliers, or cash flow, Eric had no way to sustain it or further his growth. His court case had fallen apart, and now he had no lawyer. His plumbing business was dead in the water. And so were his assets. His power got shut off at his house, and then went the water. He was an absolute mess, and his mental health break landed him at the Crisis Unit. When he was released, they brought him to us here at Gospel Rescue Mission.

Eric is the hardest of workers though, and while he’s still working on getting traction on his case and working with his new lawyer to try some other options, his positive attitude is truly incredible. “I’ve laid it at the throne of God. Revenge is His… and it will all be for His glory.” He is dependable, reliable, and faith-filled. While he’s having a rough go of it at the moment, his faith hasn’t wavered a bit. He’s quick to tell of the wonderful things God’s already done in his life and the things that he trusts God is about to do. Eric’s story might feel like a full one already, but it’s far from over.

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Guest Stories

Chris’s Story

Like a lot of folks who experience homelessness, Chris had an excellent childhood. He had loving parents who provided him with a comfortable life throughout his time at home. Even the best of parents can’t control every choice their child makes, and although we (parents) do everything we can to steer them in the right direction when those choices arise, at the end of the day, we have to let them learn their own way. Some kids learn from the mistakes of their parents or older siblings, while others, like Chris, have to figure it out on their own. And at the age of 14, Chris was on a mission to figure out a lot.

He got in with the wrong crowd and started drinking in his early teenage years. While it was manageable in the beginning, the buzz he was chasing led him right into drug abuse. By the time he was 23 years old, he found himself homeless and struggling with a powerful addiction to drugs and alcohol. With no where else to turn, he came to Gospel Rescue Mission.

He cleaned up, and as his sobriety started taking hold, he found that the pieces of his life he had been missing were starting to finally come into focus. “Being here showed me there’s more to life [than addiction], and it got me closer to God.” He landed a great job, got a car, started paying on his fines, and he’ll be in his own apartment as early as next week! While things are going well, Chris is quick to remember that he couldn’t have done this without his faith, and that his battle with addiction is far from over. It’s a day-by-day challenge, so while working out the details of life on his own are important, the rest he’s taking a day at a time, just staying focused on staying sober. “All the rest,” he said about his goals for the future, “will fall into place. You just gotta keep trying, and don’t give up no matter how hard it gets.”

When you support Gospel Rescue Mission, you are supporting men and women just like Chris, who made some bad choices, but are ready to buckle down and do the work to get their lives back on track. Thank you to all our volunteers and donors who make stories like these happen every day here at GRM!

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Guest Stories

Billy’s Story

He had a rough start to life, born with a disability that made even just walking a challenge. Through different procedures and lots of support from family and friends, he overcame though, and incredibly went on to play sports, although he still experienced a good deal of pain from time to time. As he got older, his love for baseball and football grew tremendously, despite many injuries, and he became very serious about a career in football. He was accepted onto the NSU Riverhawks football team and was off to an impressive start. He was crushed when his dreams for the future had to change.

Sports are a ton of fun, and if you have any bit of a competitive bone in your body, sports feeds it like crazy, but for all the fun and games, people get hurt all the time. In fact, a whopping 90% of college athletes report being injured during a game or practice, and 24% of competitive athletes are forced to retire after a career-ending injury. After a severe neck injury shattered his dreams of playing professionally, Billy unfortunately became another sports injury statistic. It was a devastating blow.

On top of the constant pain he already faced from his disability, and the pain from other injuries causing arthritis and swelling and a slue of other symptoms, he wasn’t sure where to go from there. He continued going to school, got a job, and did his best to move on. After 6 months, he decided to drop out of school, and focus on working full time instead. At his job, he developed new friendships, maybe not the smartest friendships he realized later, but it was a distraction from the physical and emotional pain of what he was going through. The more he hung out with them, the further he seemed to stray off the straight and narrow path he had been on. He started drinking and then got into drugs, although he was still at functioning level. After dropping out of school, he moved back to Muskogee, closer to work, and tried to tackle life on his own. It wasn’t long before he went from bachelor life to steady relationship, but this girl wasn’t the best influence on him either.

She was a drug user, and heavy into her addiction, she caused trouble for him eventually getting him evicted from their apartment. They broke up, and he was back to life on his own, but he was really struggling with the housing part. Because of the pain, he couldn’t work, and he ended up on disability. He bounced from apartment to apartment, but the debt he was building for himself was dragging him down hard. He had some fines that needed taken care of, hospital bills, student loans, and it was getting harder and harder to keep up with the daily bills and pay for these. Eventually, the bottom fell out, and he found himself without a home, and he came to Gospel Rescue Mission.

Since being here, Billy has proven himself to be an incredible asset, doing well in all areas of our Work Start Training Program. He is working on paying off his debt so that he can be more stable when he leaves here and working on a plan for his pain. He hopes to one day have a family and be able to live life to the fullest, despite his disabilities. He’s learning more about God and more about himself and what he’s really capable of. We are excited to watch him continuing to grow!  

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Guest Stories

Robert S’s Story

Most of the men and women we serve at Gospel Rescue Mission are here because they’ve made some mistakes in life, and they’re ready to own them and overcome them. That was where Robert’s story started the first time he came to see us. He worked hard, put his feet to the floor, and was blessed with an amazing opportunity all the way in New Jersey to become a truck driver. He was ecstatic, and we were so happy for him! The day he checked out was so exciting as we watched him begin the next part of his life journey. Never in a million years did we expect to see him back.

Before we get to that, let’s go a little further back into Robert’s story. When he was a young man, all he dreamed about was comics. Writing them, drawing them, reading them; he loved it all. He was constantly doodling and drawing the most incredible characters. Even his wife was into the comic book lifestyle, being an artist herself. Eventually, his work was recognized, and he landed a job at DC Comics as an inker. His job was to embellish and fine tune the artwork of the character’s drawer. He truly loved his work. He went on to start publishing, writing, and drawing his own comic book collection and even owned his own publishing company. One day though, he came home, and all his drawings had been destroyed, ripped to shreds, with divorce papers laying on top of the rubble. That was the day he had given up comics. The thing that brought him so much joy was now just a thing that reminded him of one of the most painful days of his life. He left all of it behind him and never looked back.

Life led him down some twists and turns, and fast forward several years into the future, and that was when he came to GRM for the first time. After he left to pursue truck driving, life took another devastating turn. He had been having some problems. First, there was an issue with his ID. Because of COVID tying up all of our DMVs, when his license came up for renewal, he was in a pickle trying to get in before it expired. The new Real ID required that he have a birth certificate or passport to renew his license, and he had neither. To make matters worse, Robert was born in Germany, so it wasn’t as simple as running to Tulsa or Oklahoma City to get a copy of his state-issued birth certificate. The red tape was impossibly thick.

Since his license hadn’t quite expired yet, he was still driving, but the stress was starting to weigh on him. He was feeling very ill, like something terrible was about to happen. He could feel it settling on his chest like a huge elephant just weighing him down. He was on the road driving, contemplating his predicament, when that feeling of dread came over him again. He suddenly felt his chest tightening, and he felt that something bad was about to happen. He quickly put on the brakes and took the truck out of gear, heading for the shoulder. And then it suddenly went completely black.

When he awoke, he was in the hospital and was told that he had went into heart failure. Although he did his best to get to the shoulder, he blacked out before he made it, and the truck careened off the side of the road and went straight into a grove of trees. It was a miracle from God that no one else had been hurt, and that he sustained no serious injuries from the accident. And for that, he was grateful, but now it was time to figure out what was causing this. They ran multiple tests and scans and blood work, and there were pings all over the place. Heart issues, brain issues, blood issues, but what was most urgent? The doctors went for an MRI first, and while he was being scanned, he suddenly went into heart failure for a second time.

The medical staff worked diligently to save him, and after he was revived, they were able to see the cause. A blood clot at the base of his skull, an aneurysm, was on the verge of a rupture and causing his heart much stress. He needed brain surgery and right away. It was a 10-hour surgery requiring him to be fully awake and alert. “I’ve been through a lot of crazy procedures, but nothing was as scary as that,” he said, looking back on his near-death-experience. He might’ve cheated death, but the ramifications of the surgery were far deeper than he realized. Once he had recovered, the blow hit him hard. He lost his medical clearance for truck driving. His new career, one that he had loved and that was giving him the fresh start he had worked so hard for, was no more. He lost his job, lost his home, lost his CDL, lost everything. He was crushed. He What was life if he couldn’t support himself?

He didn’t think he had the strength to start over for a second time, so he returned to Muskogee and decided to drink himself to death. For a week, he did nothing but drink; no food, no water, just alcohol. But at the bottom of a gallon of vodka, he realized one truth: “I did not want this to be the end of my story.” So, in his drunken stupor, he called 911 to get the help he needed. Once he had sobered up, he came to Gospel Rescue Mission, and hasn’t had a drink since.

It’s been tough and overwhelmingly frustrating, especially with the lasting memory and speech issues from the blood clot and surgery, but he knows that he is capable of picking up the pieces one more time. We find our strength in Jesus in these dark times, and He gives us the power to keep pushing forward, even when it hurts, and we don’t think we can. I’m reminded of the Footprints in the Sand. When life was at it’s hardest, and only one set of prints were in the sand, the author wasn’t walking alone, he was being carried. And right now, Jesus is carrying Robert through one of the toughest times of his life. Things are already turning around for him though.

Bored, he decided to get back into reading, so he strolled through the aisles of our local library in search of work from his favorite author. And then he saw it. The comic book isle. That was all it took, and the spark was ignited. Now Robert is working on fanning the flames of his old passion and hopes to one day re-open his publishing company and return to his own comic book series. The goal this time around? Earn the Comic Book Certification Association Stamp for his comic book so that his work can be more globally recognized. In the meantime, he wants to get back into the work force and get back on his feet so that he can realize this amazing dream. Thanks to our generous donors and volunteers, we are working hard to make sure that Robert has plenty of opportunities to make his dreams come true, because at GRM, Opportunity is Guaranteed.

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Guest Stories

James’s Story

Mechanic to the bone, cars were James’s life. He had worked on just about every make and model American and German car in his 40 plus years of automotive work. With a passion for custom fabrication and restoration, James had worked at some of the most sought-after auto shops in the country, rubbing elbows with major players in the automotive world, like Chip Foose. His resume was incredibly impressive, chalk full of degrees and certifications, plus long term job experience with heavy hitters in the auto industry, but as the resume was updated with his most recent employment history, his employment experiences started to get shorter and gaps were longer in between. What happened to cause this change? And why was he here at Gospel Rescue Mission with a resume like that?

He sat in the interview, looking thoughtfully out the window, his face worn from the sun and harsh weather, as he pondered those questions. The old armory building, now the Teen Center, was in his line of site. “You know,” he smiled thoughtfully,” I remember when that ol’ building was still the armory, and this building was the ol’ day nursery.” He folded his hands, completely relaxed, as he traveled down memory lane. “And there used to be the Carnation place that my daddy would take us to and sell the milk from the farm. They had the best ice cream,” he assured me with a wink. His memories of old Muskogee seemed so rich and vibrant like he could almost see the town in its old beauty. He thought back to his childhood, remembering the farm he grew up on, his religious upbringing, the Heavenly Father he came to know and love, the hard work, the huge family, and the choices he made in his youth that shaped his adult life and were still impacting him today.

He made do for years, drinking at night and on weekends, and was functioning fine in his role as a mechanic. Despite his after-hours activities, he soared to the top of his game, landing incredible opportunities and enjoying the life he had made for himself. It didn’t take long before the late nights and hangovers started catching up to him financially though. Even in these dark times, he felt God calling to him, and felt so close to the Lord, but the addiction was just too strong and overpowering. He soon found that motel-living, with no long-term obligations like a mortgage or a lease, affordable, and all bills paid, was a life he preferred, and so he had been surviving like that for the last 20 years. In more recent times though, as age combined with alcohol took a further toll on him, he found it harder and harder to balance the drinking with work. He knew it was time to get back on track, and he needed a change of scenery. The farm that he ran from in his youth seemed to be calling his name. After 30 years, it was time to come home.

Back in Muskogee, James was eager to reconnect with family and friends and get back to work in the industry that he loved. And he knew, once and for all, he’d have to leave the liquor behind to get ahead. James was fully aware that motel-living wouldn’t give him the accountability he needed to make the serious life changes he felt ready for, so he opted instead to come to Gospel Rescue Mission, where breathalyzers are part of every meal and where God was the center of the program. The systems we have in place might sound harsh to some, but for recovering addicts who are truly ready to leave their past behind, structure, stability, faith-based curriculum, and accountability, are the keys to success.

Although James suffered from serious alcoholism, he grew up in church, loved the Lord, and he shared some really profound thoughts on how God always was, and is still, moving in his life. “I been gone from this place for 30 years, but He’s brought me back for a reason.” While James chose to exit the mission recently, he found employment, he’s working on reconnecting with family, and he is staying sober. He came back to visit and was in great spirits about the future.

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Guest Stories

James’s Story

Coming to Oklahoma from Arkansas, he found himself depressed and drinking himself into homelessness and hopelessness. He was completely separated from those he loved, and loneliness was a scary place for someone suffering from depression. He felt that the world was closing in on him and with no way out that he could see, he attempted to take his own life.

Drunk, covered in blood, and yet by the grace of God, still alive, he felt he needed to get back home, the only place he felt he could recover his life. So, still disoriented from the alcohol and loss of blood, he started driving, but it wasn’t long before God intervened in the form of police officers pulling him over for drinking and driving. He was arrested, and it was during his time in jail that he started connecting with people again and the loneliness started to fade. As his release date approached, he was referred to Gospel Rescue Mission, since he had no place to go. After coming here and being motivated by homelessness and newfound friendships, it didn’t take a lot of time for James to pick himself back up and put the pieces together. He felt confident and ready to go at it on his own again, so he decided to check out, thinking he had it all together. He didn’t.

Life on the outside was tough for James without the true support team and mental health help that he needed. He quickly fell back into drinking, leading to anxiety and depression all over again. After two stops in jail and a stint in prison, he knew it was really time to get it together. So, he came back to the place where he at one time felt whole. Gospel Rescue Mission.

Today, James is sober, happy, and free. He is part of a program called Mental Health Court that is comprised of a team of people who are dedicated to recovery through sobriety. Working closely with Green Country Behavioral Health Services, he is learning new coping skills to help tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations in life without resorting back to drug and alcohol abuse. He’s working on establishing a solid support team so that he knows he won’t have to go it alone.

Because recovery from addiction and depression is a daily struggle, his goals for the immediate future are simple: “deepen my connection with God and everyone around me so that as my recovery progresses, I can offer the same kind of support I have received.”

James might not see it in himself right now, but he is an amazing individual! Always so kind to others, polite, hard-working, and a natural leader, if he can stay the course this time around, and let God work in his life, he is sure to go places in this world!

A note from James:

“Hi, my name is James. I’m currently a guest at GRM Center for Life Change because this is exactly what I need in my life right now. Change. Serious Change. After a long history of drug abuse, alcoholism, anxiety, and depression, I have found myself, yet again, with little more than the clothes on my back and a strong need for the transformation that comes only from faith in Jesus.”

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Guest Stories

Tonya’s Story

Despite her mental health disability, Tonya has fought for years to be an independent woman. She’s lived with family most of her life, but a couple times she managed to get a place of her own where she could be free to live her life on her own terms. As a Christian, she struggled in a family that didn’t share all of her same convictions, and she felt isolated from those who loved her most. She had been in and out of a few mental health hospitals, and it was after her last stint at one in a nearby city that they brought her here to Muskogee and dropped her off on our doorstep.

She’s far from home, but she feels more at home here than she has any other place in years. We encourage her spirituality, embrace her uniqueness, and we are working to help her get connected with local agencies here that can help her to become that independent woman she knows that she is.  She isn’t without challenges though.

One of the reasons her attempts at life on her own failed is her gambling and shopping addiction. Just as she starts to get on her feet, her money ends up in the cash register of a mall or in a slot machine at the casino. During a church service recently though, she was prayed over, and she could hear God telling her to just lay those addictions down, and He would carry her burden. As she moves forward here, she is working toward getting settled into an addiction recovery program and is already working with Green Country Behavioral Services.

Because of her addictions, she has tons of debt, so while she might have the money right this moment to move out on her own, she understands that she needs more than just an apartment. “I have to live my life fully for Jesus,” she said. “We might slip up sometimes, but we just need to pick ourselves right back up and keep trying.” She is re-establishing her spiritual foundation, in fact, she rededicated her life and was baptized during our Celebration Event, but she also needs counseling, budgeting help, and financial advice. Moving out will actually set her further back from resolving the root issues that caused her to be here at GRM in the first place. Now she is ready to take a step back, clear her unstable foundation, and start fresh with solid materials and good structure. She loves to work, and since she is allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, she is anxious to get into a job that will work with her disability so that she can pay off all her debt. Tonya is a bright little ray of sunshine here, and we are so happy to be working with her to help her achieve her life goals.