Mark Farnsworth had been down this road before. Freshly released from jail, he reflected on the fact that once again, addiction had left him broken. It had robbed him of family ties, his home and – for a second time – his freedom.
But like so many of the younger addicts we see here at the Mission, Mark didn’t feel like he had hit rock bottom just yet. In fact, the further he got from the cell that had been his home for the past six months, the more confident he became that he just had to be more careful this time, maybe stay away from the harder stuff for a while until he got back on his feet. For a second time, Mark turned his back on his plans to attend recovery because he believed he could handle it on his own.
After all – third time’s a charm.
Mark’s addiction has cost him a lot throughout his life.
He has a daughter that he hasn’t seen since he lost custody of her when she was one-and-a-half years old.
When he heard that his mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, methamphetamine helped him hide from reality. But it robbed him of his chance to say goodbye.
A few years later he had a son. Although he tried as hard as he could to be a functional dad while shielding his family from his habit, it was a battle he couldn’t win. Addiction eventually cost him contact with yet another of his children.
But despite all the emotional trauma his habit caused, none of it was enough to break the powerful hold it had on his life. In fact, each event only served to intensify his need for escape, creating a cycle that would most likely have continued until his death.
But God had a better plan.
Mark was arrested for shoplifting in October of 2013. With drugs forcibly removed from his life for the first time, he got some clarity and started to realize that he needed help. With his father’s direction he promised to check into the Phoenix Rescue Mission as soon as he was free.
It was his first shot. But when the time came, Mark was only true to his word for about a day.
He quickly decided that the recovery process wasn’t for him and left. But God had other ideas. Shortly afterwards Mark was arrested again. This time he was sentenced to six months.
"I got sober and started thinking clearly again. My dad told me that I needed to give the Mission another shot and it made a lot of sense. That was my plan. I applied to get my ID and Social Security card when I got out so that I could register for the recovery program. But I never got there."
His second chance at recovery didn’t last long. Once he was out of jail, Mark discovered that he could trade food stamps for drugs. Within two weeks, he found himself face-to-face with true “rock bottom” for the first time in his life.
"That’s when God let me experience the kind of brokenness that I needed. He showed me what real homelessness is, having nobody, nothing to your name, to be no one. I was living behind the Hooters at Metro Center Mall and I couldn’t take it. I called my dad and told him I didn’t know what to do. He said 'That's not true! You know exactly what to do.':
Third time’s a charm! The advice stuck and Mark successfully entered and graduated from the men’s recovery program here at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
"I've learned so much here. I’ve been sober now for 16 months. They've helped me get my GED and I even work here now in the Welcome Center as one of the safety officers. I've repaired my relationship with my family and I'm working on reconnecting with my daughter and son. God's done an amazing thing here; he's made a new Mark, someone who’s better than I was before. I'm thankful I have a father and a Heavenly Father who never gave up on me. I know now I never could have gotten here on my own."
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For over 60 years, the Phoenix Rescue Mission has invited the lost, the lonely and the downtrodden to find a hot meal and rest in the safety of our shelter. Under God’s direction and through your support we’ve touched and transformed countless lives and eternal destinations.
This year, we’re taking the next step in our mission to provide Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to hunger and homelessness by implementing a brand new program we call Solutions Shelter.
Not everyone needs shelter or addiction recovery services. Sometimes resumé help and a hot meal are all a guest needs to get back on his or her feet. Others require extensive recovery time, counseling and vocational development to find their way back to wholeness. Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all program, Solutions Shelter is designed to break down all the services we offer and tailor them to each individual we serve. It works like this:
This is going to be an exciting year for us and for those we serve! Never before have we been able to offer so many life-transforming services and at the same time tailor them to such a personal level. We expect to see God working like never before in the lives of those we serve and it’s all thanks to the support of friends like you. Programs like this wouldn’t be possible without the time, talent and treasure you give in love.
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In 2015 we saw a lot of great changes and improvements come to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. (Read "6 Reasons the Mission Transformed More Lives Than Ever in 2015" here.)
But God is far from done!
I’m excited to give you a sneak peek into a recent opportunity he’s presented to us. The Oaxaca restaurant adjacent to our Changing Lives Center went up for sale a few months ago. Thanks to the help of some generous friends, we were able to purchase it and are currently in the process of remodeling it to become the site of our social enterprises program! Currently, Mission Possible Cookies are baked in the site’s kitchen.
Our vision is to, one day soon, use this space as a fully operational restaurant/catering business where our men and women in recovery can work side-by-side with industry professionals, gaining vital work experience and learning on-the-job skills. The income from the restaurant would make this program self-sustainable and any profit would be reinvested back into the Mission to transform even more lives!
This new space, combined with the new Solutions Shelter program, will see the Phoenix Rescue Mission become a very powerful force for change in Phoenix. I’m very excited to see all that God has in store for us this year as we travel down this road together.
Watch this space for updates in the months ahead. Thank you again for your prayers and support. Together we truly are transforming lives in ways and in numbers we’ve never seen before!
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