Frank drank anti-freeze in 2001 and shot himself in the chest in 2017. Today, he smiles and finds joy in serving others. As he says,
“I understand their circumstances.”
Frank’s memories are sketchy and incomplete. He remembers disturbing moments from 50 years ago with the same level of intensity and emotion as if they were happening now. When he describes the death of his grandfather (a sad moment for Frank when he was only 7) and his subsequent barter with God, tears flow instantly. “I told God, ‘I won’t believe in you if you don’t bring my grandpa back.’”
Frank lives with the SYMPTOMS of depression.
At age 11 he numbed his pain with alcohol. By age 16 he had escalated to drugs, with cocaine growing to be his overall preference. Over the years he made choices that led to legal troubles and formed relationships with unstable people that created added chaos. Every negative outcome produced then justified his feelings of worthlessness. “It wasn’t until I asked Jesus into my life that I discovered I had value. Knowing Him didn’t remove the pain I felt. In fact, I struggled with suicidal thoughts on a daily basis. What knowing Him did do for me was it allowed information to slowly sink in and help me battle the negative thoughts I was experiencing with the truth His Word provided.”
The Mission works with hundreds of men and women just like Frank – people who are gifted and bright, but who have years of negative history that leads them to believe they don’t fit in – who feel that no one, not even God, can help them. Like you, we are so pleased when they finally begin to experience new outcomes by simply making new choices and building healthier relationships.
“Depression runs in my family. There are four of us who have to take antidepressant medication to battle the physical effects. The meds stabilize me, but it’s the Scriptural teaching and the healthy relationships I’ve formed since entering the program that has changed the way I now live. The Academy classes and instructors help me find answers and renew my thoughts. My assigned counselor helps me understand how my brain works so I can reason better. My mentor is also an electives instructor at the Mission, so I get the relationship and I get to watch him interact with others, living out his faith openly. Recently I was asked what I would say to someone who supports Mission programs if I had the chance. That was simple: ‘You saved my life. Because the Mission exists, I have the tools I need to move forward and live with peace in my heart. This place is a sanctuary.’”
Frank's story appears in the July 2018 edition of Lighthouse News.
You can be a living example of hope in someone’s life.
Our programs are always in need of more mentors, tutors, ministry helpers, Biblical counselors, and anyone who has the time (typically 1 to 2 hours per week) to invest and commit in the lives of the people we serve. With this need is always the care we take to caution, just as Scripture does. “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” Luke 14:28 (ESV)
Trauma affects everyone but in different measure. For those who suffer from addiction, the view of a traumatic episode is often skewed. Add to this the stress of entering a recovery program, the added endurance needed to physically work and study each day, and the emotional challenge of interacting with hundreds of new faces and personalities - It isn’t hard to see that the men and women we serve are incredibly vulnerable.
So, when loving volunteers offer their time to stand beside the people we serve and guide them, either as a mentor, or teacher, or to fill any number of volunteer opportunities, careful consideration to commitment is necessary. The moment ‘someone’ doesn’t show up on time (or at all), or forgets to reschedule due to conflicts, the mind sees it as a personal judgment. To the addicted mind, it becomes an added trauma that reminds them of all the times they were the let-down or that they let others down. To the volunteer (should one of our men or women suddenly leave the program without warning), they are tempted to feel they didn’t do enough, it was their fault, or even feel no one was grateful for the time they gave.
Relationships are never easy, but with the right perspective in place, they are always rewarding. Love has no constraints. Given freely, it always yields what God intended.
As you volunteer - whether in service of the Mission or anywhere within the kingdom - please remember that your love and commitment matter. For Frank and others like him, they are life-saving.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
Romans 11:33 (NKJV)