Stories of Hope
Marquin remembers when he was just four years old, listening to his parents fight in the other room. He was so frightened that he started to shake. “From then on, any time there was pressure, I’d shake,” he says. “A junior high friend told me to try wine or beer and it made me stop shaking. That's how I started drinking.”
Is Long Beach Rescue Mission making a difference? Is it a good place in which to invest? Decide for yourself as you follow a three-part series by Unassuming Collective, whose mission is to share “stories, untold, brought to life.” It is stories like these which demonstrate how God is working through LBRM to change lives.
It was business as usual when Diana went to work one day at the Vons deli. “I was doing lots of lifting and all of a sudden I couldn't breathe,” she says. “I was hospitalized for eleven days, on oxygen, diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).”
Diana couldn’t return to work and, before long, had gone through all her savings. Then, she was evicted. However, a friend of hers knew the Supervisor of our Women’s New Life Program. “She called the Mission and the next day we were on our way here,” Diana says. “God is good. He takes care of us.”
Mared had a successful career, a beautiful family and a bright future before him – but he was harboring a secret. “I’d been smoking weed since I was 15. It was a daily habit, like people drinking coffee.”
Then Mared was in a minor, work-related accident and a required drug test revealed his secret. “The company paid for drug rehab and said I could come back at the same pay, but my pride didn’t allow me to go back,” he says. “It was downhill from there. I lost my job and my marriage dissolved.”
Still Mared continued using and, within a year, found himself homeless.
Phillip moved to the United States from Jamaica 20 years ago to start a new life. “Jamaica is hard,” he says. “Gangsters terrorized my neighborhood. There were a lot of shoot outs. Some nights, I was lucky to get home.”
He lived with his mother in Detroit and worked two jobs to help support them, but he wasn’t making any headway. “I got depressed and stopped praying and going to church,” he says.
Then he discovered that his mother had been gambling away their money. She moved out, and he was able to save enough to move to Long Beach. “My plan was to find a job and a place to stay. That would be my new life,” he says.
Fernando wanted to die.
Surgery for a brain aneurysm had left him unable to walk or speak. He was having to relearn everything. “I’d never sunk to that level of desperation or sadness before,” he says.
His physical therapist challenged Fernando to stop feeling sorry for himself and try to walk. “She forced me, and my anger motivated me,” he says.
Then she asked him if he believed in God. “I stopped believing in God a long time ago. I never talked to Him at that point,” Fernando says. “But she talked to me about Him a lot and insisted that I come to Long Beach Rescue Mission because it’s a good place if you really want to get close to God.”
Before she died of cancer, Rodney’s mother made him promise he would “clean up his life.”
His mother’s death wasn’t the only tragedy in Rodney’s life. His father, two uncles and an aunt all died within a couple years of each other. “We had funeral after funeral,” Rodney recalls, and though he’d been clean and sober for eight years, he began smoking “a little weed.”
His drug use led to a year in jail, and that led him to a decision: “At 54, I’m too old to be sitting around getting high.” That’s when Rodney decided to come back to the Mission and enter our New Life discipleship and recovery program.
It’s hard to know where to start sharing Kelly’s story.
Since her mother was a heroin addict, Kelly and her siblings bounced around from family members to foster homes and group homes.
Then Kelly began using drugs herself when she was just 11 or 12.
Later in life, all of her living children, who now range in age from 3 to 23, were all taken from her care at one time or another because of drug use.
Is there a bright spot, a silver lining in what seems like a tragic life? YES! Because today, thanks to your support, Kelly knows that “God has a purpose!”
Kelly’s exposure to drugs came first through her mother, a heroin addict who neglected to care for her children.
Kelvin grew up believing in God, but he went his own way. “I always had Him on the back burner,” he says. “It was always about me.”
When Kelvin was 13 years old, he started smoking marijuana. From there, his drug use only escalated as time went on. “When I turned 28, I tried crack cocaine. Right away, I couldn’t control it,” he says.
Kelvin’s addiction to crack cocaine lost him job after job, eroded his family relationships, and left him homeless.
He went through countless rehab programs, most recently completing a year-long drug treatment program in Los Angeles. “I went back out and used again,” he says. “I made my way to Long Beach, lost my vehicle and, after I spent all my money, I had nowhere to go.”
Raymond was raised in a Christian home and attended a Christian High School, but when he turned 18, he began running with a different crowd. “I ended up hanging out with gang-bangers, and got into the whole drug scene,” he says. “I was living on the street, one choice away from getting locked up or killed.”
Raymond had been living in the Los Angeles River bed for more than a year when he’d finally had enough. “I’d pretty much hit rock bottom,” he says. “So I got sober and called somebody that my dad knew. He called somebody who used to work here, and they got me into the Mission.”