James finally hit rock bottom. Lying in bed at his brother’s house, coming off his latest crack high, grief overwhelmed him. Crack cocaine had cost him everything. His wife and kids had left him, he’d lost his home and car, and he’d spent every last penny he had on drugs.
For one moment, he thought about cutting his wrists — “but I knew that was just Satan wanting to destroy me.”
James’ descent into despair took 12 long years. It started in high school, when he first started smoking weed. Cocaine soon followed, and he was off to the races, and it continued after he got married. “Before long, I was spending my whole paycheck on drugs,” he says. “My wife got fed up with it, so I tried rehab, but that didn’t work. One time I overdosed and almost died, but I went right back to drugs.”
DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF ADDICTION
At one point, James and his family ended up homeless, living in a motel or an abandoned house. He recalls guns pointed at him over drugs, and the misery of living that kind of life.
Lying on the bed at his brother’s house, however, he realized his only hope was Jesus Christ. So he came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. “God started working on my heart immediately,” he recalls. “All the teachers and counselors here filled me with the Word of God. Everyone here encouraged me every day. And every night I prayed, ‘God, help me overcome these problems. Help me put my family back together.’”
God answered James’ prayers and more: It took time, but God restored his family. The Milwaukee Rescue Mission helped James find a new job and a home. He joined a church and taught Sunday school. But he really came full circle last year, when James was invited to return to MRM to minister to men interested in joining the program, just like he did so many years before.
“The guys know that I know what it’s like for them,” he says. “This is my passion — to help broken men find the same joy and hope I have today.”
North Campus Block Party a Big Success!
The Milwaukee Rescue Mission's North Campus hosted over 500 men, women and children from the surrounding community at an Open House Block Party on June 10. The day was a fabulous success and clearly communicated to our neighbors everything that's going on at our North Campus, as well as plans to expand our facility. More than 500 meals were served and new children were enrolled to attend Cross Trainers Academy next fall!
You Did It! We Met May’s Matching Challenge!
Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of friends like you who donated more than $289,980 to our May Matching Challenge, a caring group of friends matched those gifts for a total of $554,075. Your gifts will go a LONG way toward helping to feed, clothe, shelter and transform the lives of our homeless neighbors throughout this summer.
A Life-Changing Community
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” — 1 Peter 3:8 (NIV)
A colleague once told me, people aren’t homeless because they run out of money. They’re homeless because they run out of relationships. They’ve run out of friendships and community. And that’s far more tragic than a lack of money.
One of the most heartbreaking things I hear from folks at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission is that they feel completely alone as they try to cope with their addiction or homelessness. They’ve failed time and time again to fix their problems without any outside help. They can’t.
But no one can. We all need help. We need family and friends. We need love, encouragement, wise counsel and practical help. And that’s the great thing about the Milwaukee Rescue Mission — we are a community of friends and neighbors ready to offer this kind of support to those who want it.
I hear it over and over from our guests. The meals and shelter saved their lives. But what transformed their lives was the love, friendship and support they found here. When they realized they aren’t alone, change happened.
But here’s the thing: There is no one more important in this community than YOU. As a donor, everything that happens here, from meals to relationships, happens because of your generosity. As a community, we all have roles to play. And the role you play in this community makes this great community possible. It’s not just your check, it’s YOU — your love, your compassion, your commitment and your relationship with the hurting people we serve together. Thank you!
Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.