Jose will graduate the Academy program in early July 2016. Employed as the Academy Receptionist for the Fresno Rescue Mission, he is the first person many people meet when they first come through our front doors. “I know the challenge of life-change, but I also know that life-change is possible. Even the worst of situations is not impossible with God’s help.”
Jose shared a story with us: “One of the Academy disciples was having his first on-campus visit. His mom arrived early and was waiting for him. It had been two months or more since she’d last seen him. When he came around the corner, she whispered, ‘Oh Mijo’ and went silent. She was crying. Her son no longer looked like skin and bones. He was rested, well-fed, and smiling for the first time in a very long time. She thanked me - -ME! - - I suppose because I was the one to see it happen. It was an honor, but it also stirred up a lot of memories in me; some good, some bad.
I remember what it was like, to ‘end up here,’ as I used to say. I once thought that going to a Mission for help would be the same as what is shown in movies: A Skid Row soup kitchen. You know the look? A dirty, filthy location filled with ‘lowlifes’ and bums? The truth is, once I arrived here I was shocked. The Mission is warm. It’s inviting. The people (staff and guests) are just ordinary people with similar challenges. The programs are first-rate and I know I learned things about myself I never knew before. That all happened because I came here. I still have lots of issues I’m working through, but that day I could see what God had already done in me.
When I enrolled in the Academy program, I was just like that woman’s son. I looked like a skeleton. I also wore an attitude of smug anger on my face. Today, just like his mom saw in him, I am healthy and happy. Mostly, I’m hopeful. My wife is enrolled at Rescue the Children [the Mission’s program for women and women with children.] I know that if we keep practicing what the Mission has taught us, we can become a healthy family.
One day, I want my family to see me the same way as that mom saw her son. I also want them to have a chance to experience what I have; that Christ can change their lives, too. This place is more than just food and shelter. It’s a place where you meet Jesus, and then you meet yourself. I trust God will make that possible for the people I love, too. If not at a Rescue Mission, He can work it out somewhere. He knows best.”
Jose's Story appeared in the January 2016 edition of Lighthouse News.