Secrets and Highs
When I came to Union Rescue Mission a year ago, I had no self-respect and no dignity. I had lost everything that mattered to me. I was a broken man — with a lifelong secret.
I was just 6 years old when a teenage girl sexually molested me. When I told my parents, they didn’t believe me. The whole experience left me so traumatized, I started to stutter. And I’ve never been able to stop.
All through school, I got into fights because of my speech impediment. But when I turned 18, I discovered crystal meth — and I felt a rush of power and liberation I’d never experienced before. I didn’t care how I talked or what anyone thought of me anymore. From that first line, I was hooked.
Over the next 18 years, I got married, had three kids and held all kinds of jobs — and I lost every one of them due to my addiction.
My wife threatened to leave me many times, but I was always able to manipulate her into staying. I disappointed her time and again.
I wanted to change. I wanted to be the husband and father she believed I could be. I even went to rehab. Twice. But nothing worked. As long as I held on to my secret, I could not control my addiction.
By July 2010, I was no longer working, my wife and kids had finally left me, and I was losing my mind. One day I woke up on Skid Row, where someone literally took me by the hand and led me to Union Rescue Mission. That day I gave my life to God. In the Mission, I went into counseling, and for the first time, I started talking about my molestation, shame, and years of stuttering. I cried like never before. In time, I forgave the girl who did that to me and forgave everyone who never believed me. And I forgave myself.
Today, I have been sober for more than a year. God has given me back my dignity, self-respect, and even my wife and family. I no longer live in shame — even my stuttering has decreased.
As I head into 2012, I am a new creation in Christ. And my New Year’s wish? I’m going to college to learn how to help at-risk youths deal with their struggles and addictions. But mostly, I just want to stay clean and be the best husband and dad I can be — for the first time in my life
Help End 2011 Strong
Many of our Skid Row neighbors have little hope that their lives will be different in the coming year. In our present economy, how can they hope for something better to come?
Yet throughout our Mission in downtown Los Angeles, and among our families at Hope Gardens — hurting men, women, and children are gaining the skills, courage, and strength they need to hope again. That’s what your gifts mean — hope, as a strong foundation to start their lives over again. Thank you!
Your gift will provide shelter, warm clothes, hot meals — and hope for the New Year.
So I urge you, please send the most generous gift you can today. Thank you!
Since California’s economy tanked in 2008, the number of people seeking help at Union Rescue Mission has swelled to epic proportions, while our income has fallen to frightening levels. And economic experts predict 2012 will only be worse.
For three-and-a-half years, we tried to meet the needs of everyone experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles and it almost took us under. It’s painful to admit we can’t help everyone. But, we simply don’t have the resources.
That’s why, as we head into 2012, we are determined to focus only on what we do best — helping people who truly want to change their lives through the power of Jesus Christ, by helping folks who want to heal past wounds, get sober, find jobs, and re-enter society healthy and whole.
We won’t save everyone. But we know that hundreds of folks who come through our doors every year will live exceedingly better lives than when they first arrived. I believe that when we do our best, and our guests do their best, God performs a miracle. I expect to see a lot of miracles in 2012.
Rev. Andy Bales, CEO, Union Rescue Mission