Stories that Inspire.
Victories to Celebrate.
When there is no place left to turn
Just like many of the guests at the Victor Valley Rescue Mission, I too have a very broken past. But I just got to celebrate 14 years clean and sober on August 1st, thank you, Jesus!
When people hear of my position as director of the Victor Valley Rescue Mission, I like to tell them “This is what I get to do” because that is truly how I feel. It is a blessing that I get to do this job. When these same people hear about my past, I usually get asked one question: What is it like to experience homelessness?
My homelessness was off and on for 20 years, but started as a teenager. It was my choice. I was using and dealing drugs and did not want to live by my parents’ rules. The food I ate mostly came from friends when I would visit them, but not all of them would let me in. Some would simply tell me to leave or turn the lights off and not answer the door. I remember a friend who worked at a fast food restaurant would throw me a bag of burgers at closing time.
I ended up in many places, sleeping in strangers’ houses and often not knowing how I got there. I woke up in the desert, in cars, and also at a junkyard in Victorville. I was lost and I did not want to be shown the way out.
I did find myself at a crossroads at the age of 17. My girlfriend Marianne, now my wife, was pregnant with our first son. At this time I was a senior at Apple Valley High School and my life was definitely on one of its first major downward spirals.
On top of all of that I was associated with some people who made a very bad decision and ended up going to prison. God had removed me from this group only weeks before. My Dad came to the apartment where I was living with that group of friends and said, “Get your things. You’re coming home.” It was father’s intuition, and God’s saving grace!
I was too tired, mentally, physically, and spiritually, to fight him on it, so I went home after being on the streets for over a year. To this day I am still not sure how my dad knew to find me there. I had not spoken to my parents at all during this time. It was another one of God’s amazing grace moments. My wife and I married that year and will celebrate 33 years in November.
I often explain homelessness through a childhood story: When I was about 8 years old, my brother and our friends were running around the desert in Hesperia. It had been raining a lot. There was a field on the corner by our house, and it would get very muddy. It had a section where, if you crossed it wrong, you would sink up to your waist.
Well, I was trying to keep up with them and decided to run across the field, not realizing where I was until it was too late. Three steps into the field and I was stuck. Now, if you have ever been stuck in this kind of mud, you know you can try with all of your strength and only make it a step or two before realizing you aren’t going to make any progress.
I yelled out for my brother and friends and they came to my rescue. They built a make-shift bridge across the mud with old wood and branches. One detail I always find worth in mentioning is the strength the mud has when it surrounds you. It acts like a vacuum, and my cowboy boots—the ones I had just received—are probably still there in that dried-up mud hole in Hesperia.
I say all of that to say this: homelessness is a stuck-in-the-mud experience. It takes someone else building a bridge out to you in order to help you up and out of it. And that doesn’t mean some parts of you don’t get left behind in that situation (just like my boots).
When an individual comes to the Mission seeking help, they are usually there because there is no place left for them to turn. Our guests are stuck in the mud. Or maybe they have just made it out and need a place to heal from what the streets took from them.
The Life Recovery Program gives life back to the clients by giving them a place of Refuge. They begin to focus on Christ again—or for the first time—allowing them time in the Recovery. Finally, our clients reach a place of Restoration with family and friends, but most of all themselves, as they were meant to be—the adopted sons and daughters of God who loves them.
The Mission runs community outreaches in order to be that bridge, like the one my brother and friends built for me. The mobile shower program, mobile meal program, food pantries, and our holiday events are meant to make that connection with our neighbors who need help, and offer them a hand up.
I have seen thousands of people come to our doors when they have had no place left to turn. Thank you for partnering with us to make sure the Mission is a place they can come to for help out of the mud.