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.