Hi everybody, this is a letter I recently (Aug 2018) sent to City Rescue Mission in Oklahoma City-
Hello, I would like to start donating because you were the first rescue mission I ever stayed in after I became homeless in Dec 1989. I abandoned my life in Tenn., walked to the bus terminal there and plopped my money on the counter and asked how far west it would take me. The clerk said OKC (about 700 miles on local roads with frequent stops); I thought ok, it was probably far enough west to be warm enough to start my homeless life. When I got there a day or two later on Dec 22, 1989 it turned out to be in the single digits and windy at 1pm, supposedly one of the very coldest days ever in OKC. I had no understanding of rescue missions but I knew the homeless had some kind of option so I asked a guy on the street where to go, he told me about the mission at 523 S. Robinson, so I walked the few miles to get there.
When I arrived I found the day room open because of the cold weather and it was very crowded. There was a group of guys clustered around the TV that seemed to be hogging it; another guy was sitting on a bench with a transistor radio that was making static noise between stations, rubbing it on his face like it was an electric razor. An older guy came in and gave a young guy a carton of cigarettes. After he left some other guys accosted the young guy and he gave away all the cigarettes. It was a very scary culture shock for me! A volunteer or program member found me and saw my freezing and bedraggled condition and offered to help me, I told him how hungry I was so he found me a bowl of lentil soup even though it wasn’t meal time. I never heard of lentils before but it was fantastically satisfying! Somebody asked if I had any ideas about Jesus and I admitted I was not raised with any knowledge about religion at all. He recommended I consider the version of the program you had at the time which would give me space in the dorm even during the day while I did some Bible lessons and chores around the mission, and I agreed to try it.
A day or two later a church group came by and gave us each a care package that included some personal hygiene items, then they sang some Christian Christmas carols. I remember looking at my new toothpaste and deodorant and thinking how valuable they were to me now, even though I was raised in a solid middle class home and never lacked anything growing up. It was about a decade or so since I left my parents’ home suddenly and I had made so many rebellious mistakes with drinking and drugging that I had reduced myself to being appreciative of the simple gifts of a bowl of soup and a toothbrush. I had no idea that God was leading me on this lengthy journey across the country to break me of my pride so I could see the truth about myself and see the reality of our Creator and His plan for guiding our lives.
A couple of days later I asked if I could spend some time alone in the chapel after night chores were done. There I reflected on my life’s failures caused by my corrupted understanding of how to make decisions, and I thought about the few Bible lessons your program had taught me so far. Christ showed Himself to me there that evening and I told Him how badly I needed Him and begged Him to teach me how to fix my life. I vividly remember the feeling that He made a promise right then to lead me if I really wanted to follow. I know I received His Spirit that night as a gift to me that has changed my life forever.
After that I spent a few months in your program, and then moved on to other missions in Oklahoma City, then Enid OK, then Denver and Worthington CO. I spent about three years in rescue mission programs being exposed to many branches of Christianity and studying the Bible daily. After that I spent a decade and a half building a life, career, marriage, even home ownership that I never thought would ever be possible for me. I was ever thankful to God for showing me the truth about Him that so many people are blissfully (?!) ignorant of. But I did not develop a Christian support group on my own so I slowly fell away until a series of major life events occurred simultaneously and I went on a three year drinking binge, truly a prodigal son squandering an inheritance I received, and then accumulating enough debt to cause a bankruptcy as well as two back to back DUIs that could have ended with a prison sentence.
The depression caused by that willful failure humbled me enough to revisit my past and restart my two-way relationship with God, who was there with me all along while I was hardening my heart to Him. I challenged God to make His promises in the Bible come true for me, and I promised to never ignore Him again. That was in early 2009, and since then I have now enjoyed more than a decade of daily devotions and Bible studies and can really feel myself being transformed by the renewing of my mind. I feel that God’s Spirit living in me is a real person showing me the truth of every situation I am in and offering me wise choices while also showing me the deception of the world’s choices. I have learned what it means to really believe in something and abide by it so I can avoid being double-minded and ensnared by my own desires. I read the Bible for learning and recreation and I can see how God always protected His peoples’ free will to make their own decisions while also setting boundaries by showing what happens when they make bad decisions. I know that He does the same for me now, He wants me to use my free will to choose Him and voluntarily learn those boundaries as part of the accountability I have to my relationship with Him. I know that Christ sacrificed Himself while on Earth so that our Father and His Spirit can have this relationship with me that benefits me so much now and protects me with our triune God for all eternity. I can’t even fathom the depths of Christ’s love for me that caused Him to voluntarily sacrifice Himself for me but hope to develop a tiny fraction of that love in me for others, making me want to give money and time to help people while hopefully showing them a glimpse of the Creator they all need so desperately. Thank you for being there for me over 30 years ago and offering the Christian environment that God could use to get me started in a relationship with Him!