Stories of Faith: Living Free

Living Free

Anthony's story begins here:  SEARCHING & FREE

There is a special place I hold in my heart for the Fresno Rescue Mission.  Words cannot describe the love I have for the people here.  They pour their heart and soul into all of us.  

When I first came to the Mission Academy, I was a mess.  I didn’t even know how lost I felt.  I had been effectively numbing myself with alcohol my whole life, but it hadn’t become a life-changing problem until I was in my 30’s.  When I was arrested in October 2015 for my 4th DUI, I was remanded to a program.  I chose the Mission.

All of the pieces that make up the details of this recovery program are helpful; from classes and work therapy, to the counseling sessions and special duties.  What’s changed my life the most are the relationships I’ve built here.  One example is Chaplain Jay. He taught the Bible Discovery series in such a way that it helped open my eyes.  Through him, I discovered how to see and read Scripture.  He spoke to us as a class, yet made it feel as if each of us were the only person in the room with him while he introduced us to Jesus.  He is just one of many who made the journey to sobriety deeply personal.  From the Academy and Food Services crew to the Automotive and Administration workers; teachers, volunteers, ...even board members... God placed each one of these people in my path, and they have totally changed my life.  They all live for Him.  That’s how they teach us to do the same. 

Yet, of all the relationships I developed in the last 18 months, the ones that brought my life full-circle are the connections I’ve made with my mentor, Larry, and his wife, Anna.     

Larry and Anna are like family to me.  Larry continually speaks into my life about trusting the Lord, even when He is taking me through something that I feel I can’t handle at the time.  So recently, when Larry’s wife, Anna, suffered a stroke, I found that these words of wisdom became my gift to share back with him.  As the two of them were going through the challenges of medical uncertainties, I had a chance to step up and help.  That alone would have been my blessing, but my greatest joy came when I went to the hospital to visit Anna.

As I arrived at Anna’s room and told the nurse my name, she said, ‘Oh, you must be her adopted son!’ It made my day. In that moment I knew they both viewed me as part of their family, too.

Having so many people believe in me has given me the courage to believe in myself. I’m no longer worried about how I am making a living or where God intends to send me five years from now. I just know that the Lord is preparing my heart for something. As I continue to study and to walk out my faith, I will have a lot of opportunities to draw from my experiences and love-on others. Perhaps, one day, I will be a mentor like Larry. Wherever the Spirit leads me, I’m happy to go!"

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)

This story appears in the September 2017 edition of Lighthouse News.