Joseph is just like you and me. He has skills and talents that drive him. He has goals and dreams. In his youth, he wanted to be an NFL star. His size, natural athletic ability, and his 3.4 GPA made him the ideal candidate. He played Tight End and Defensive End. He was passionate, gifted, and hungry. But one mistake changed everything. He was expelled from High School for selling drugs. His dreams of NFL stardom ended that day, and his struggles to fit-in began.
“I moved from school-to-school, place-to-place. I’ve been arrested twice in the last ten years; once for DUI and once for domestic violence. This is my second time coming to the Mission for help.”
Joseph wants to remain clean and sober. He’s tired of living on the streets and relying on family members to survive. At age 38, he wants to be a good parent and he wants to live a life that has value and purpose. And because of support from people like you, the Fresno Rescue Mission services and programs remain here for him.
“It’s really hard to push past the fear and shame of addiction. I can admit that I was lying to myself before. Even though I graduated from the Academy in 2012, I knew I was in trouble. The same night I graduated, I smoked marijuana to celebrate. Five years later I was sitting in a jail cell, in pain. The last thing I wanted was to ask for help. It was hard to believe that God could still love me after I messed up like that.”
Joseph came back to the Mission and has worked hard. When he re-entered the Academy program March 2017, he was determined to learn what he missed the first time. Yet, he still struggled.
Relationships, great food from YOU, and a few internal conflicts created the perfect moment for change to occur in Joseph’s life.
“My feelings get me in trouble. When I get frustrated I don’t know how to work through the anger. I had only been back in the program a month and I was looking for excuses to leave. My mentor and staff kept me strong.
It was Easter weekend, 2017. I was assigned to work on B-Team. We were setting up lunch for high school teens that had been part of a week-long urban plunge event. I was hungry and snacking on tortillas that were donated to the Mission. I just remember that they tasted great. I hadn’t eaten anything that good for a while.
All of a sudden, my team leader told me to put down the food. He told me I was being impolite because the teens we were about to feed wouldn’t have what I was eating. He told me to go to the warehouse and grab bread for them. I was angry and stormed out of the room. I did what he asked, but I wasn’t happy about it. Later, he asked me why I got so upset. I know he was just trying to help. I didn’t understand why it made me so mad, but it did. Maybe it was the memory of high school. Maybe it was just wanting to eat something and knowing I had to serve someone else first. Maybe I was just having a bad day. I didn’t know. I started getting upset all over again. I walked outside, pacing, and then I started to cry. I couldn’t stand the fact that I was crying, so I started asking God for help. That’s when it happened. At that moment I actually felt a huge weight being lifted from my shoulders. My tears stopped and I felt God’s peace for the first time ever. Today it sounds odd, but I met Jesus because of a tortilla. I’ve been on fire for Him ever since.”
At the Mission we often say that “hope begins with a meal,” but this must be the first time we’ve ever shared a testimony involving tortillas. One donation - tasty tortillas - led to a morsel of truth, and an opportunity for life-change.
Your gifts really do make a lasting impact. We’re grateful!
Story appears in the April 2018 edition of Lighthouse News.