To anyone else, it was just a silly child’s necklace, a worthless souvenir from Disneyland.
But for William, it was the last remaining memento of his 12-year-old son, whom he hadn’t seen in eight years. After a lifetime of broken relationships and abandonment, William felt alone and hopeless. First it was his mother, a troubled alcoholic who preferred the streets over her children. His grandmother was in and out of his life. He never knew his father, and after he married the woman of his dreams, she tragically died less than a year later.
“I was so depressed, I went into a tailspin and started drinking more and more. I really struggled,” William recalls. “Then I got married again, way too soon. I never dealt with my grief. And because of my drinking, I burned that relationship out in five years. But a wonderful thing came out of that marriage. My son, Judah.”
But two years after the marriage ended, William’s ex-wife disappeared with his son. “I lost all hope,” William says. “I started drinking all day, every day, and I ended up homeless. Over the next four years, I lost everything, all the reminders of my son.”
Everything but a necklace. William knew he needed help.
So in January 2013, he came to Union Rescue Mission. Over the next year, he poured himself into weekly counseling sessions with Chaplain Mike McIntire, 12-step classes, Bible studies, and prayer. As he got closer to God and his burdens slowly lifted, William began to see the same hurt he had felt in the eyes of the other men at the Mission. So he began loving and ministering to them. Before long, he no longer felt alone.
Yet he never stopped praying to see his son again. “Then one day, out of the blue, my son found me on Facebook,” William says. “I finally got my son back.”
In fact, on Easter Sunday 2015, Judah, now 12, visited William at Union Rescue Mission. At the sunrise service, as they celebrated Christ’s resurrection and new life in Him, William turned to Judah and gave him the necklace he’d carried for eight years.
“This necklace means the world to me, son,” he said. “This is what kept me going, even in the midst of my addiction and all my running away from God, from all my relationships, and even from myself. It’s all I had left of you. Take care of this for the rest of your life.”
It was just a child’s necklace. But it saved a father’s life.
I love William’s story. As a chaplain at Union Rescue Mission, I see men like him everyday — men wounded from broken relationships with friends, family, and with God. Sometimes those wounds are consequences of bad choices they’ve made. Other times, the broken relationships are suffered from no fault of their own.
But one thing is clear: People don’t end up on Skid Row because of drugs and alcohol. They end up here because of some kind of relationship trauma they’ve never recovered from. In fact, the single biggest common denominator I see among addicted and homeless men and women is the overwhelming grief they feel at being completely alone.
But you and I know they’re NOT alone. They’re not alone because there’s a God who loves them. They’re not alone because we surround them with unconditional love and friendship. They’re not alone because compassionate people like YOU care.
If men and women come here wounded by broken relationships, they heal through loving ones. And thanks to your giving hearts, hurting and broken people who come to Union Rescue Mission have the time and space they need to build new relationships and reconcile old ones — especially in families.
Everyone who comes here is someone’s father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. So every time you invest in someone here, you do far more than help to restore a life. You help heal and restore entire families — healing that will offer hope for generations to come.
Notes From Andy
Loved and Accepted
I bet if you were to survey 100 people here on the streets of Skid Row about what led them here, 93% would say a broken relationship. Whether that relational trauma led to some kind of mental health issues or led to their addiction issues, they’ve never healed from the grief and pain. So by the time they come to Union Rescue Mission, they have nowhere left to go and no one else to turn to.
But that’s where you come in. With your support, we encourage them to trust again and risk building new relationships. We teach them how to overcome grief and loss, how to overcome anger, how to overcome addiction, and how to turn to the Lord for help. And that’s most important, because when they have a relationship with their Lord, they are embraced by the only perfect Father.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people go through our program and return home to start over as healthy parents, sons or daughters, brothers or sisters. We all need to be loved and accepted. There is no greater joy than seeing that happen. But it happens here, because caring people like you make it happen.