Revealed family secrets led Rodney to increased drug use.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Rodney’s family was “close knit,” he said. “They had a lot of love, but there were also a lot of secrets.”

When Rodney was 14 years old, he started using drugs to deal with the death of his mother. Being the youngest of 11 children, Rodney was mostly raised by his older siblings in the projects. “It (drug use) was everywhere in the projects,” Rodney said. “I was skipping school, selling drugs and doing drugs. And after my mom died, I went full-blown rogue.”

After high school, Rodney learned that who he thought was his father was not his biological father and that his mom initially left him at the hospital. These family secrets sent Rodney into a deep depression and into further drug and alcohol abuse. “When I heard about my mom not wanting me and my dad not being my dad, I was totally lost and didn’t feel loved,” he said. “I went south fast.”

Rodney’s family could see that he was devastated and using drugs to cope with the pain, so they moved him to live with a brother in California in hopes of starting over. His move to California did bring about a new life; Rodney married and started a family. “Things were good for a while, until I found meth and started using again.”

Drugs filled the void of unanswered questions from Rodney’s childhood. “I started using again, because I was missing something—my mom was gone and couldn’t tell me about my past,” he said. “I kept using because it was what I was used to.” His addiction went on for years and ultimately ruined his marriage. “I broke my happy home because of my choices.”

“My family wants to come see the changes God is making in me and they are learning to give me grace.”

Rodney’s brother took him in. “My brother, Chris, said I could stay, but after 30 days I had to find something to change my life or get kicked out.” It was at this time Rodney found the Rescue Mission Alliance Victor Valley. Rodney remembers calling the Mission. “I called (Chaplain) Timothy and just broke down. I know God brought me here, because it was the first time I looked into something on my own.”

Even though Rodney’s childhood was “dysfunctional,” his mom did believe in Jesus and he remembers there being love. “I didn’t know the Mission was faith based, but once I got here I knew it was the right place, because I had tried to quit before but it was without God.”

Rodney is learning the importance of having God in his life to finally make a change. Pastor (and Program Manager) John’s Bible teaching is showing Rodney the deep need for God in his life. “Pastor John explains the Bible to me and he helps me understand it and what God has done in my life.” Rodney can see the changes in his life too. “I don’t cuss anymore and I am praying more and asking more questions about God.”

As Rodney finds recovery from his addictions, he is also seeing God restore the relationships in his family too. “My family wants to come see the changes God is making in me and they are learning to give me grace,” Rodney said.

Rodney looks forward to graduating the program with a new relationship with his family and a deeper love for God. He sees that the void he was filling with drugs from unanswered childhood questions was only meant to be filled with God’s love. “There was one thing that has been missing and that one thing is God,” he said. “But this time He is not missing. I love Jesus Christ and didn’t know I needed Him—but now I do.”