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Jeremy: God showed me ‘he was bigger than all of it’
Jeremy grew up in a small town in New Hampshire to loving parents. “My home life was great,” he said. My parents are amazing, loving, caring. I have an older brother and we got a long very well and did a lot together. At the time I lived there, there were only I think 1,200 people in the town—it was really slow paced.”
When he was 26, Jeremy and a buddy decided to make a big move. They were both supervisors at a Walmart warehouse, and were able to transfer to another warehouse in California. “It was not just that I wanted to get out of New Hampshire—it was more than that,” Jeremy said. “I was dissatisfied. I just thought, ‘Life can’t just be this. There has to be more.”
Jeremy met a girl, and they got married in 2007. The next year, when Jeremy was 28, they had a son. “Things started falling apart,” he said. “I didn’t know anything. My son was not easy—he had some difficulties. He was very colicky, and he cried and cried and cried. I didn’t know how to deal with that. I wasn’t in a good place in my mind, and my heart, and my spirit. I didn’t know Jesus.”
Both Jeremy and his wife worked full time. “You worked, and then you took your shift with the baby,” he said. “We were just passing in the night. My frustration started to bubble up. I lost it. I ended up hurting him.”
Jeremy wet to prison for four years and three months. “I was broken—completely shattered,” he said. “Right after being sentenced, they put me in a cell by myself. I was a mess. I remember sitting on a metal cot, bawling my eyes out. I didn’t know how to do this. Prison wasn’t something I ever thought I’d do. It just came out: ‘Please, God, help me.’ I didn’t know who he was or anything about him, I just knew I needed help. A sense of peace came over me. I was still a mess about it. But he showed me he was bigger than all of it.”
Jeremy and his wife divorced while he was in prison. “She had to decide what was best for both of them, and she ended up moving on. I finally realized I couldn’t do this thing called life without God. I knew I needed someone I could always talk to. I needed someone who was going to give me the wisdom I needed to manage frustrations and anger.”
Jeremy started reading the bible. “I read it like any other book,” he said. “I just opened to the first page and started reading. Along the way, I started meeting other believers. They would tell me, ‘Try reading this,’ ‘Try thinking about this while you’re reading it,’ and the idea of bible study started to develop. I kept reading it over and over, started recognizing themes, and it started making sense.”
Jeremy got a job cleaning the prison chapel, which progressed to him helping out with services. He was taught how to operate the soundboard, and after a couple years, the prison chaplain made him one of his clerks. He was baptized in a giant laundry cart. By the end of his sentence, Jeremy was helping to run the prison’s chapel program, which included Sunday services, bible studies several times a week, and movie nights.
Jeremy knew that when he was released, he’d have nowhere to go locally. He started writing to churches, sharing his story. A letter led to a connection to the Mission, and after a week with his parents, who flew out to see him when he got out, Jeremy entered the Mission’s program. “I knew it was where I needed to be,” he said. “It was everything I needed—growing my relationship with Jesus, recovering my life, coming back to a semblance of normalcy, whatever that was.”
Jeremy reflects positively on his time in the program. “The atmosphere was amazing. Waking up every day to devotions, where God was just always moving and talking to us—everything made sense. It was an amazing time.”
Jeremy became one of the leaders of the house. He graduated and then interned with the Mission, before being hired on full time. For nearly six years Jeremy worked as the Mission’s volunteer coordinator.
Jeremy, now 41, has a great relationship with his 13-year-old son and is working at Second Harvest Food Bank in Irvine. He said he would encourage anyone who needs change in their life to go to the Mission. “I know the Mission helps people—I’ve worked side by side with those who it’s helped—and it’s changed my life. I wouldn’t be who I am now if it weren’t for the Mission and the way I was more intimately introduced to Jesus. It’s a great place. They are always there for anybody no matter what. They are impacting the community every day and getting people involved. Our community is only as strong as its weakest member. People who are doing well should be out there helping people who are struggling—that’s what it’s about.”