Graduate reflects on realizing God’s powerful love
Carlos grew up in Guatemala, and came to the United States when he was 20 years old. He got right to work, mostly in construction, got married, and had a son. But the marriage didn’t last. “I was drinking too much and my ex-wife wanted me to stop,” Carlos said. “I never did. She got tired of it and left me. When I got divorced, everything went downhill for me.
“Something happened to me. I wasn’t thinking right. I was drinking in the morning, even more than I was before. I wish I knew why it happened, why I acted that way. I did a lot of wrong things that I can remember. I ended up on the streets. I used to be homeless.”
Carlos was in Los Angeles, and came to Victorville for a construction job. After working for a few days, the job ended and he had no work, and no support. “I was on the streets,” he said. “I had no one.”
Carlos found the Mission’s shower program, and started visiting once a week to clean up. The staff and volunteers would tell him about the Life Recovery Program, but Carlos remembers blowing them off. “They would tell me how much it could help me, but I’d tell them, ‘No, I don’t want to go, it’s not for me.’ They had bibles there at the shower program. You could read them. You could pray. It took me a while to come around to God.”
Eventually, though, the idea of leaving his life of homelessness behind, along with all of the struggles, started sounding appealing. “I told the other guys on the streets, ‘I’m doing this. I’m going to the program. I don’t want this life anymore,’” Carlos said.
Carlos entered the program in 2014, and said after just one week it had made a major impression on him. “It was something I had never experienced before,” he said. “I learned that God really loves you. If people don’t want to accept that love, that’s their choice. I wasn’t doing good things at that time. I was doing whatever I wanted to do. So when I went to the program, I made a promise to myself. I said, ‘With this time, I’m going to do what he tells me.’ And I saw a change in me.”
Carlos started seeing God in his life. “He started helping me more and more,” he said. “My faith got bigger. It’s something I didn’t totally understand. I had been harming my body with drugs and alcohol, and that’s not a good thing. Now, all I do is pray, and thank the Lord for what I have.”
Carlos graduated in 2015. “Going to the Mission was the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “My boy—he’s 32 now—he wasn’t talking to me, but now he does. You can get help if you want to, there are people who want to help. I was really lost.
“It helped me to realize it’s not all about me all the time. It’s about other people. You can make a difference. They helped me, now I can help others.”
After graduation, Carlos entered the Transitional Living Program. He found work and got a room, and has been a driver at the same tire company for the last few years. He typically goes to church every Sunday, and is looking forward to attending services in person again after COVID regulations relax. “I still stop by the program and talk to the guys,” Carlos said.
“I could not ask for more. God showed me the way. He wants us to love other people and love him. We need each other. I’m thankful to him. Every morning I wake up and thank God for a beautiful day. It’s a day that wasn’t promised to me, but that he gave me.”