For my blog this week I’d like to do something different. I heard my friend Roddy share his story last Saturday night at a fundraising event. He was to share, and then I would be the keynote speaker. When Roddy finished sharing his story, the saintly Pastor turned to me and said, “How are you going to top that?” I assure you that I did not top it!
I was struck by a theme that I have encountered many times from men who experience homelessness, men who I have talked with, over 300 men that I have surveyed, and even my own Dad. That common theme or denominator is often the loss of their mom at an early age.
Please read Roddy’s story. I believe you will better understand the struggles of a significant number of precious people experiencing homelessness.
By Roderick Rose
Ezekiel 17:24 (New International Version)
24 All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. ”‘I the LORD have spoken and I will do it.’ ”
I am here today to provide testimony about a remarkable, transformative event. Some of you may have heard my story before…
For the majority of my life I struggled with a poor self image. At the age of five I was abandoned by my mother and raised with a single father and two brothers, and we moved around from place to place because my father was in the military. I found it difficult to make the strong emotional bonds that are so needed in childhood. Socially, I was confused about how to fit in with my peers and suffered a lot of rejection. The most potent rejection I experienced was from my peers in my own race. Many of them told me that I was just too different. I wasn’t acceptable to them and I never could figure out why. I lived my life as an island floating through the oceans of the changing times and spaces. Abandonment and rejection left a deep spiritual and psychological wound that took many years to overcome.
The injuries eventually took their toll on me and when the opportunity to erase that pain presented itself, I took advantage of it. I became a drug addict and alcoholic. I was in my addiction for 8 years. I grew accustomed to being destitute, needy, and unstable, and emotionally disturbed.
In the worst years of my addiction, I came in contact with the Lord’s Lighthouse. As my face became more familiar to some of the staff and volunteers, I got an opportunity to build a relationship with people like Amie Quigley and Pastor Chuck.
Just the fact that two people of God were willing to have a decent conversation with me, with sincerity, I might add, was very encouraging for me. It was like they psychically knew that I longed for a meaningful connection. Their concern for me was evident when they would either take me out for coffee or visit me at my camp site across the street from the Lord’s Lighthouse.
And it was at that campsite, when two years ago, I made my next move. It wasn’t to another city or another state. It was a move downtown to the Union Rescue Mission, where I ran into another servant of the Lord, who I met previously during my time in the streets…Andy Bales, the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission. I enrolled in the Christian Life Discipleship Program there. Two weeks after arriving there, I went to God in prayer, and I asked him this: “Lord, will you save me? Will you take me back into your family? I will follow you now, but I have just one thing to ask of you. Will you please take away the self-hatred that I’ve had my entire life and will you give me joy? Because even though I’m here, I cannot do this program unless you remove this thing from me. If you do that, nothing will stand in my way from serving you”…And guess what? He did!
And after saying that prayer, I had the strength to do the program, graduate from the program, and nowadays I’m completing a one year apprenticeship at the URM. Right now I’m in my second semester of college, I’m starting my own business this coming spring, and I even have a fiancée (her name is Michelle) a woman who truly loves me. It is definitely a wonderful thing to find the woman that God has made for me… I now have more than two years clean and sober.
But I would have to say that my most cherished accomplishment is that I finally realized that God has always loved me and it was God who protected me, even if he had to discipline me, but nonetheless, He loved me and accepted me and brought me into his family. He loved me before I even loved myself. And I thank God now, that the love I have for myself, I can give to others. Thank You and God Bless!