For almost 30 years, staying high on crack was the only way I could deal with the memories of the life I once lived as a gangbanger. Memories of friends who’d died … of people I’d hurt … of people I’d killed. I couldn’t live with myself anymore. I needed help.
I grew up in Echo Park and started running with gangbangers at 14. They became my family. From that point on, everything went berserk.
Gang life was violent. Period. I was shot in the chest at 15, shot in the face at 16, and I have scars from police dogs that attacked me. When I was 18, a rival gang killed my girlfriend. After that, I got really vicious. Rival gangs ambushed us; we ambushed them. They killed us; we killed them. All the friends I grew up with were dead by 21. I always wondered when it would be my turn.
BURYING THE MEMORIES
For 15 years, violence was my life. But I couldn’t handle it. Getting high on crack was the only way I could live with myself, the only way I could bury the guilt and memories of what I’d done.
By 29, I tired of it all and left gang life for six years. However, I kept smoking crack and even went back to the gang. Then one night in 2010, I got ambushed. I should have died right there in the street. But they missed. That’s when God got my attention.
I left gang life for good and tried to get clean, but I still couldn’t live with myself sober. I finally said, enough is enough. It was get sober or die. I came to Union Rescue Mission—not just to quit drugs, but to deal with me.
A NEW CALLING
Over the next year and a half, I got into God’s Word and met my Lord, who died for everything I’d ever done. Through His love and forgiveness, and the love I experienced from the people here, I started to change. Then God began opening my eyes to all the other hurt men and women inside these walls. God filled my heart with so much empathy for them, and He started using me to help transform their lives.
Little by little, I learned that a tough man isn’t the guy with a gun or a knife. A tough guy is a man with compassion. I spent my life hurting so many people. I have so much regret.
NOW GOD IS CALLING ME TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE HELPING PEOPLE.
Thank you for supporting Union Rescue Mission. I should have died years ago. I deserved to die. But thanks to you, I’m alive and a man of God. Thank you for giving me a second chance to change and to help others. May God bless you.
I should have died right there in the street. But they missed.
WINTER IS HERE. HELP SOMEONE ESCAPE THE COLD NIGHTS
Even in sunny Los Angeles, winter nights can be dangerously cold. Yet thousands of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness will curl up to sleep tonight in parks, in back alleys, in cars, on city streets, and under bridges.
Often their health and even their very lives are at stake as the increased rains in January and February make LA winters even more miserable. Tragically, more people devastated by homelessness died of hypothermia last year in Los Angeles than in New York City and San Francisco combined.
WHAT IS HYPOTHERMIA?
Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing the normal body temperature to fall below 95 degrees. This can lead to heart and respiratory system failure and eventually death.
Hypothermia is caused by exposure to cold temperatures and cold water, and commonly occurs when a person is in the cold for too long, doesn’t have appropriate clothing, or isn’t able to change out of wet clothes and move to a warm, dry location.
Hypothermia can set in at temperatures as high as 40 degrees and rain virtually guarantees hypothermia
With your support, we’re able to offer warm shelter, safe beds, hot food, and other emergency services that save lives. Thank you!
“God is calling you to change the world one life at a time and one small step at
a time. Begin today where you are.”
Be a Hero for Hope: Become a Monthly Giver!
Words aren’t adequate to describe how important Heroes for Hope are to our neighbors on the streets. These caring friends give monthly to provide meals, shelter, and life-changing services to those who are devastated by homelessness in Los Angeles. Their impact is extraordinary.
Today you can become one of our Heroes for Hope by committing to give automatically each month. You’ll help provide consistent, reliable help for our neighbors in need.
Whatever gift you can give today will make a difference in someone’s life!
2020 IS A BRAND-NEW YEAR:
HELP 1 PERSON START OVER TODAY!
Many men and women devastated by homelessness in Los Angeles have little hope that their lives will be different in the coming year. But not at Union Rescue Mission.
Every day, someone here or at Hope Gardens is gaining the skills, courage, strength, and tools they need to start over again. He or she will have a brand-new chance for a brand-new life—because someone cared. Because YOU cared.
Today, someone else needs your help. Your generous gift of any size will help a struggling man, woman, or child start a new life in 2020. Thank you!
Will you give today to help 1 person make a brand-new start in the new year? $25.40 can provide 10 nourishing meals!
NOTES FROM ANDY
HOMELESSNESS HAS A FACE
Every morning, I wake up heartbroken over the thousands of people devastated by homelessness in Los Angeles.
I’m heartbroken because it’s a personal issue for me—personal in that every man, woman, and child who’s homeless is a precious, beautiful soul with a face I cherish.
A face just like Chris—a face full of enthusiasm and passion for life—whom you read about in this newsletter.
Or a face like the beautiful 11-year-old girl—so precious and precocious—who lost her mom to drugs and then her home when her father could no longer afford the rent. Thank God he had the courage to bring her to Union Rescue Mission, where they’re both getting the help they need.
Or the face of the sweet older lady who recently hugged me and called me her “hero”—a face of someone who tragically spent years on the streets, but who is now safe in our new shelter for single women like her.
Yes, those who are homeless have faces. That makes it a personal issue for me. And I pray that everyone in Los Angeles makes it a personal issue, as well.