Angel Overcomes Addiction, Finds True Happiness In God
At just 22, Angel has already experienced homelessness, addiction, and hunger. He became hooked on fentanyl quickly. He started stealing to support his habit, and ended up on the streets, once going four days without food. “It wasn’t the life I wanted,” Angel said. “That’s what made me even worse on the drugs. I was using more drugs to make me forget how I was living. It was my way to get away from it.”
Angel grew up in Hemet in a large family—he’s the oldest of seven kids. His mom and stepfather always focused on providing for the children. “I have a good family,” he said. “They always made sure they raised us really well. Even when they didn’t have money, they always made sure we had what we wanted.”
When his parents moved to Victorville, Angel came too, but eventually wanted to return to Hemet. “I decided to move out on my own, and I ended up living with my girlfriend’s brother in law,” Angel said. “He was doing opiates and he started peer pressuring me to try fentanyl. I started it and got really used to it to where I couldn’t get off.
“After I got into that drug, I started losing everyone’s trust. I moved back with my parents, but I ended up stealing from them. I was stealing from my friends, my girlfriend. Basically no one trusted me anymore so I had nowhere to go. I was homeless for six months.”
Angel mostly stole food from stores to survive. “Every now and then I’d have one friend who would actually help me out and take me to get something to eat or give me money,” he said. “I’d try sleeping wherever I could, but it was mainly in cars because no one trusted me in their house because I was stealing. It was pretty bad.”
Angel had come back to Victorville, but couldn’t stay with his parents, as they were fostering some of his younger cousins. “My mom saw me at one point, and she chased after me,” Angel said. “She saw I wasn’t doing good. I tried to get into some programs and rehabs, but they’d never call me back.”
But when Kenne from the mission called, things changed. “He said, ‘We can’t get you in today, but I’m going to do whatever I can to get you in as soon as I can.’ He came to my house and talked to my mom and my brother,” Angel said. “I was tired of living how I was living. I’m so happy I came here.”
Angel said there was a lot that surprised him at the mission. “I didn’t expect the program to be like this when I joined,” he said. “I was expecting it to be like a prison or something. When I got here, I was sad and crying. But I felt comfortable and welcomed right away. I knew I wanted to be here. They treat you like family.
“I’ve never been a happy person,” Angel added. “I’ve always hated myself. This program has made me be happier with myself. That’s the biggest change I’ve noticed. Since I got into this program, I’m not really sad or mad anymore, or depressed. I feel like I’ve found myself again. Even if I’m in an argument with someone, I still manage to stay happy, talk it out, and not fight, be mad or say stuff I shouldn’t. I just talk like a normal person. My mom always told me, ‘You need to find out what’s wrong, what’s making you go to this, do drugs.’ Now I know it’s because I just haven’t been happy. I’m happy now that I’m here.”
Angel went to church with his grandma as a kid, and was baptized, but fell away from God. “It was kind of weird, coming here at first, since I didn’t believe in him. I didn’t want to come for that reason. But once I came here, it started to make sense to me. God made us. It was my purpose to come here and (learn that). I was meant to come to this program.”
Angel is happy with all he’s learning and experiencing at the mission. “My parents were scared I was going to get here and then just leave right away,” he said. “But I’ve made this choice that I want to stay here and go through the program because of everything they’ve shown me here. They’ve shown me God and how he actually helps you.”
Angel is considering attending school to become a veterinarian after he graduates from the program. He said he’s thankful for the mission’s supporters. “Thank you for helping the mission—you are making it what it is, helping people like me who really need the help.”