Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography
I am 23 years old, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. For years I was going down a bad road, struggling with a drinking problem and a problem with narcotics. I dropped out of high school and then moved to Indiana to go to Job Corps, where I got my GED. I was doing okay at first, but then ended up getting kicked out. I had nowhere else to go and was homeless. My drug counselor recommended that I go to a ministry in Indianapolis with a homeless shelter. I eventually moved to another homeless shelter that was a better place for me. Pastors came in and they had Bible studies a couple of times a week. It was there that I began my walk with God.
One day after I had been to a Bible study, I stayed in the room and prayed. I prayed so hard, I could feel my heart beating in my hand. Then I experienced something I had never experienced before. It was amazing — kind of like being intoxicated but better. I felt lighter than I had ever felt, like a huge burden had been lifted from me. It was the most peaceful I have ever felt. I believe it was God’s Holy Spirit. For most of my life I have struggled with anxiety and depression. But I have become calmer since that day. I knew before this experience that God was real, but this really confirmed it for me.
God blessed me by sending me to another homeless shelter, where they helped me prepare for a job. I messed up and took a pill and got kicked out, but by the grace of God I got back in. No matter how much I messed up, God kept helping me. I didn’t deserve all the help He gave me. I didn’t feel condemned by God. Instead God’s love motivated me to live up to His expectations of me. He is shaping me to become the man He created me to be.
A guy came to the homeless shelter and told us about Purposeful Design, a for-profit job creation program in Indianapolis with a focus on relationships and discipleship. I didn’t really want to go to the classes, but someone encouraged me, and something inside me told me I should go. I went and have never regretted it. I began with classes to teach me the skills to become a craftsman: how to use tools, the planning process in building and the lingo in carpentry. I participate in Bible studies, where they explained how we could apply those lessons to our daily life, to walk with God better. After I finished the course with Purposeful Design and got my certification, I asked God if it was His will that I should get a job with their company. I applied and was interviewed, not really thinking I would get the job. I had planned what I wanted to say at the interview, but the Holy Spirit spoke to me. I felt I needed to be completely honest and vulnerable about my story. God was like, “Let it all out.” And I did. I laid all my cards on the table. I ended up getting emotional and crying. After the interview, I thought, “This guy is going to think I’m an emotional wreck.” Usually there is a second interview, but the man told me they didn’t need a second interview. He offered me the job. There were people who were more qualified than me, but I got the job.
God has always looked out for me. As soon as I started working there, I started going to a Bible study every day. Visitors come in and share their testimonies of how God has worked in their lives. It’s like a family. We help each other through our struggles. There is a lot of love there. I am so grateful God has me there. I love it so much. I don’t want to go anywhere else.
God’s love is so abundant. You cannot define it. God’s love is full of grace and mercy. No matter how much we condemn ourselves — God knows we are not perfect. He knows we will fall down and struggle, but He helps us figure out what He wants for our lives. Life in Jesus is way better than anything the world can give. This world is temporary and the love the world gives is conditional. God’s love is unconditional and unfailing. Living with Jesus is the way to true joy, contentment and peace.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” —Matthew 11:28–30 (NLT)