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10 Years Later, Sammy Reflects On Time At The Mission

Apr 26, 2019

After his first tour in Iraq, Sammy struggled. “When I came home, that’s when I really started falling,” he said. “I started doing drugs, and became addicted to meth. Even after I failed a urinalysis, the Marine Corps kept me, and I went on another tour to Iraq. They kicked me out after I got home.

“From that point on, I really started digging myself deeper into my addiction. I lost everything—my family, friends—everything I loved before. I had nowhere to go, I had issues with the court system—everything was bad in my life.”

A friend of Sammy’s told him about the mission, and offered to take him out there. “He said if I didn’t want to stay, he’d pick me up and get me out of there. I knew I needed to make a change in my life. I had nowhere to go.”

Sammy met with Pastor John Schmidt. “He told me about the program. He asked me, ‘Are you ready?’ I said I didn’t know. At that point, I wasn’t sure where my life was going. But from that moment on, from that meeting on, my life just drastically changed.

“Being a part of that program, I started to see the everyday blessings around me. God opened my eyes. Waking up, worshipping, going out to the thrift store, or helping through the outreach events and helping others—it really changed my heart. When I started to see how God was changing my life, I completely surrendered from there.”

Sammy graduated and got a job as a window washer. He was cleaning windows one day at the nearby outlet center and asked about a job at the Coach retailer. He got the job, and eventually was promoted to manager and transferred to the Los Angeles location to be closer to his family, with whom he had started to reconnect. Sammy was also going to school to become an electrician, a goal he reached. He’s now an electrician at
Universal Studios.

“I’ve never gone back to drugs,” Sammy said. “I’m just very fortunate and blessed to be here today. I went from having nothing to having so much—not just material things, but spirituality and love for others. The mission has done so much for me in my life.”

Sammy graduated the program nearly a decade ago. Now 36, he’s also reconnected with his family. He talked with his father, sister and young nephew right away, but had trouble tracking down his mom. “When I was going through my addiction, my mom really witnessed that and I pushed her out of my life. There was a time that she told me, ‘I can’t watch you do this to yourself anymore.’ I said I didn’t care. I couldn’t find her for a long time. But two years ago, I did. The moment we spoke, we just reconnected. I have a very good relationship with my mother now.”

Sammy still looks back fondly at his time at the mission. “The most important thing for me was reconnecting with Jesus, getting that relationship back that I had lost,” he said. “The fellowship with the other guys, the love for Jesus that we shared, it was just an amazing atmosphere to be a part of. It really reminded me how awesome the power of God can be to change someone’s life. I know anything is possible with God.”

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