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Charles credits success to his focus, the company he keeps


It took a lot for Charles to finally want change in his life. He was nearly 55 years old. He’d used methamphetamine for 40 years. He had broken his ankle, and after a quick surgery in an emergency room, wound up with MRSA, a bacteria that causes serious infections.

“I could have died,” Charles said. “I was laid up on my sister’s couch, flat on my back for months, just thinking that I needed to do something with my life.”

Charles talked to his younger brother Jim, who lives in Victorville. His wife had done some secretarial work for the Mission years prior and they suggested Charles give them a call. “I had nowhere to go,” Charles said. “I’d used up all my options.”

Charles gave in and reached out to the Mission. “I told them my situation,” he said. “I told (the program assistant) that I wanted to learn more about being a Christian, I wanted to get saved.” He said, you’re taking medication, you have broken leg, and we’re not set up for that. Call me when it’s done, when they take everything off. I did. And the next day, he was at the door. “Going through that program saved my life.”

Charles has lived most of his life in the San Bernardino area. He’s been married twice, but they didn’t stick. His mom was in an accident in the late 90s and was paralyzed. He bought her home after she needed to be moved into a nursing home. Charles had been a welder for 20 years, but quit to start his own tree-trimming business, which he ran until 2010. “From there things started to go downhill,” he said. “I did some wrong things. I didn’t pay property taxes, and I lost my house.”

Charles moved to Yucaipa and worked for a property management company. “That dropped off and I lost everything,” he said. “That’s when I broke my ankle and eventually called the Mission.”

Charles went to the Life Recovery Program and graduated in 2015. He liked helping out at the thrift store, as well as volunteering at outreaches, dinners, and food box giveaways. “We were always helping,” Charles said. “It was good for me.”

Charles had some experience with Jesus, but had fallen away from the word. “When I was 18, I accepted Jesus Christ,” he said. “I was with a friend at a revival and I’d accepted him. But I’d been a backslider. I did drugs and stuff like that. I wasn’t a church goer. I didn’t read the bible every day.”

At the program, Charles said they got up at 6 a.m. “(Pastor) John would get in at 7 and we’d do the morning bible study and worship,” he said. “He’d share Jesus with us. His preaching got me interested. He taught me how to read the bible and actually understand it. I realized that I needed to be in a good place, away from the bad stuff that you can’t really get away from without any help. I needed to learn what John was teaching.”

After Charles graduated, he stayed in the Transitional Living Program for a year. “I worked as a security guard at the thrift store for a year,” he said. “I road my bike to the bus stop and took the bus every day. I saved money until I had enough for a car. I got my license. Now I work (for a trucking company) and am pretty successful. I haven’t missed a day of work in four years.”

Charles said part of his success is due to who he keeps company with. “I don’t mess around,” he said. “I got away from all my friends that did all the other stuff. I read the bible almost every day. I try to surround myself with good people. The company I’m with right now, they’re Christian. I go around the U.S. passing out brochures, trying to get people to accept Jesus Christ.”

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