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.