Tom sat alone in the dayroom after the New Year’s chapel service. This was the first time in years that he could remember bringing in the New Year clean from drugs and sober from alcohol. Since the age of 16 (he was now 35), he had celebrated holidays either strung out or inebriated. This had been his way of having fun — and his friends were of the same mindset. He had turned to them in some measure because of the lack of a relationship with his father, to whom he had last spoken when he was 13.
His mother had done her best to raise five children with a meager income earned from busing tables at a local restaurant. Unfortunately, this meant that Tom and his siblings were left unsupervised most evenings. Homework was a very low priority, and as a result his grades began to fall while he was in sixth grade.
By the age of 15 he had dropped out school, which added to his already low self-esteem. He began experimenting with marijuana, which led to stronger drugs. Adding alcohol to the mix, Tom managed to spend most of his time in a somewhat mindless state. He found work hard to come by. When he would get a job, he would keep it long enough to pay for his habit until he got fired for not showing up. He eventually sought help from a local agency, but soon was back to his old ways.
The unexpected death of his mother was a final wake-up call. Tom had heard about the local rescue mission, but had been reluctant to go there because of its religious reputation and his pride. Nonetheless, he humbled himself and applied for the recovery program from which he would benefit. He listened to the teaching of his life coaches and set and followed through on personal improvement goals. He learned how to have fun in positive ways and connected with caring people in a local church. As a result of literacy assistance, Tom earned his GED and got a job. He had saved enough money, so that on this New Year’s Eve, he was prepared to move into his own place.
Most importantly over the course of the past 18 months, Tom had gained something that would be of greater value to him than any job or house he would ever acquire — hope. Because of his new connection with Jesus Christ, he not only had a bright outlook on his earthly life, but for eternity as well.
Though the man’s name has been changed, this is a picture of what makes the ministry of Oliver Gospel Mission unique. We help people to focus on responsibilities instead of rights, we equip for responsible living instead of enabling people to continue their dysfunctional lifestyle, and we major on long-term transformation instead of short-term fixes. For more information, contact us at Olivergospelmission.org.
Oliver Gospel Mission