The Mission — October 2019

The Mission — October 2019

GRATEFUL FOR A MIRACLE

It was Thanksgiving, and Christine stood in the alley outside her mother’s backyard, listening to her family celebrate. She could smell the freshly baked turkey. She could hear the laughter. Growing up, Thanksgiving was one of her favorite holidays, a day filled with love and warm memories. But not anymore. She was no longer… Read More »

The Mission — September 2019

The Mission — September 2019

GRATEFUL FOR A MIRACLE

Thanksgiving doesn’t mean much when your daddy is a mean, abusive alcoholic. He often disappeared for weeks at a time, leaving us without any money or food. We were so poor, all our clothes were second-hand rags. So at school, all the other kids noticed, and I was bullied mercilessly. Rejected at home, rejected at school, I felt worthless. As I got older, I turned to alcohol myself… Read More »

The Mission — August 2019

The Mission — August 2019

SAVED FROM THE STREETS

When I was 8, an older boy offered me $20 and took advantage of me. I felt so ashamed, I was afraid to tell anyone. But my shame quickly evolved into rage and hate—and from childhood on, I took it out on the world.

By my early 20s, I was so angry, mean, and fearless, local dope dealers hired me to be their enforcer in exchange for all the meth I ever wanted. I jumped in with both feet … Read More »

The Mission — July 2019

The Mission — July 2019

SAVED FROM THE STREETS

“I was still homeless,” Maria says. “I still felt so much hurt and shame. I mean, I was living on Skid Row, the worst place you could ever be. But inside Union Rescue Mission, I was the happiest I’d ever been.”

Raised by a single mother with 10 children in a small apartment, Maria grew up with a lot of “chaos.” By 13, she felt desperate to escape. So, against her mother’s wishes, Maria … Read More »

The Mission — June 2019

The Mission — June 2019

SAVING SEBASTIAN

Sebastian has had a difficult young life. Before he was 8, he was already taken from his mom twice and placed in foster care because of his mother’s drug use. “I was afraid I would never see her again,” he says.

In 2015, his mother, Claudia, came to Hope Gardens to turn her life around, so she could give Sebastian the love he craved and so she could be the mom he needed. But when Sebastian rejoined her at Hope Gardens, instead of joy, he felt … Read More »

The Mission — May 2019

The Mission — May 2019

A DADDY’S DO-OVER

At 61 and struggling financially, Michael never dreamed he’d be a full-time dad again. But his daughter, 8-year-old Michaeyla, needed him. So in 2017, he packed up his car in Florida, picked up his daughter, and moved to Los Angeles to start over.

“I already have four older kids,” Michael says. “So when Michaeyla was born in 2008, it was totally unexpected. I wasn’t afraid of it, because I come from a big family.

“But about the time she was born, the economy fell apart and I lost … Read More »

The Mission — April 2019

The Mission — April 2019

COMING HOME

All I ever wanted was someplace I could call a “home” — someplace safe, someplace where I had nothing to fear, someplace where I felt loved. But it didn’t work out that way.

When I was growing up, my stepfather molested me, and my mother physically abused me. I was left hurt, afraid, and deeply angry. Many times, I sat in my room, crying and thinking, “God, if you’re there, why are you letting me go through this? Why don’t you save me?”

Finally, when I was 15, I was put in foster care. But by that time…

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The Mission — March 2019

The Mission — March 2019

LOST AND FOUND

“My childhood wasn’t much,” Michael says. “My dad left when I was 10 and I never saw him again. My mom died when I was 15. I’ve mostly been lost ever since.”

Hurt, abandoned, and unloved, Michael felt he had no choice but to live on the streets, where life is cheap and often deadly. Michael remembers watching a man get shot and killed on the sidewalk. But even as he lay dead, no one around him cared.

Michael learned that the only way to survive was… Read More »

The Mission — February 2019

The Mission — February 2019

SET FREE TO FLY

After a lifetime of abuse and heartache, Ruby felt abandoned, angry, and hopeless. When she came to Hope Gardens with her four children, she shut down and kept to herself — until God reached her heart with a butterfly.

“When I was young, I was often left with family, friends, or anyone who would take us. At one point, I was molested. And when I was 16, I had to drop out of school to support my siblings. I never had a childhood.”

Ruby’s unstable life left her feeling unsafe and unloved. Her self-esteem hit rock-bottom. After earning her GED at 18, she spent the next 10 years enduring unimaginable emotional and physical abuse… Read More »

The Mission — January 2019

The Mission — January 2019 6

SHE SHALL OVERCOME

Ruby was in the wrong place at the wrong time. A series of bad choices led her there, but little did she know that, at 15, her youthful rebellion would cost so much. When the bullet pierced her brain, it changed her life forever.

“When I was growing up, I spent seven years in foster care,” Ruby says. “When I went back home at 13, I didn’t know who my mom was anymore. I’m like, ‘Who are you? You can’t tell me what to do.’ I had no respect for her.”

So Ruby started running away and ditching school. Two years later, she was hanging out with friends when local gang members opened fire. Ruby was hit… Read More »