~ By Simon Aguilar - Academy graduate and current Academy volunteer
I entered the FRM Academy in August 2014. Having been through years of abusive relationships and drug use, I was broken and ready for change, and the staff was ready to help. But within three months I was aching to leave. The enemy used the weaknesses I felt from pain and addiction to wage war on my mind. My family was struggling and I was struggling. Giving up seemed like the right thing to do at the time, that is until someone reminded me that the enemy is a liar. This was something I had heard in a Bible class but hadn’t really understood.
Soon after, things changed - not at home and not with my problems, but in my mind. The experiences I was having matched what I was learning. Because of that, I found a reason to stay. I stopped trying to control everything and instead surrendered to God. I never would have learned how to do that without people around me that cared about me. I was surrounded by staff and volunteers, people who strengthened me for the good of my family and my future. Every time the enemy tried to tear me down, they were right there building me up. I thank God for their commitment.
By the time I finished the Academy program, my family relationships had been restored. I found a job and I set out to succeed. At first, I was ok but then old thoughts crept up and tore me down again. It was only by God’s grace and power that I stayed strong and sober. The Lord spoke to my heart and reminded me that I knew how to stay sober while facing difficult situations. He reminded me that I needed to help others. My response was, “I’ll do it later.” Wow! I still can’t believe how selfish I was. It wasn’t until I started to feel like I was having health problems that my attitude changed.
My heart wasn’t beating normally and it felt like it was hurting all the time. I thought about God’s call and decided to come back to the Rescue Mission and volunteer my time as a mentor. I needed to share what I had been learning. Commitment to God is more than a feeling. It’s a purpose in living that needs to be shared. It’s what I learned in the program. Mission staff and volunteers strengthen me in my weakness because of their walk with God. It was the missing piece I needed to remain strong in my faith. It all works together.
Sometimes we may think we have all the time in the world to change, to learn, or to help others, but we really don’t. Our time is both precious and limited. So I’ve gotten busy. I work, I care for my family and friends, and I now commit time to advance God’s kingdom. I’ll do this for as long as He allows my heart to keep beating.
Simon's story appeared in the September 2018 edition of Lighthouse News.