Purpose in the Suffering [Steve’s Story]

Steve spent years trapped in homelessness and addiction, the result of a terrible childhood. God redeemed Steve, and gave him a new purpose he would never have imagined...

With tears in his eyes, Steve says, “The people on the streets see themselves as worthless — as less than worthless. Donors to Phoenix Rescue Mission show them otherwise. They provide a second chance, which is the last thing that anyone out there feels like they deserve.”

That feeling of worthlessness is one Steve knows very well. He spent years struggling with homelessness in the heat, addiction and incarceration before the Lord changed his life. But today, he’s grateful for those experiences because they prepared him perfectly to answer a calling at the Mission.

Like so many of our guests, his struggles began long ago, in childhood ...

Troubled Soul

Both of Steve’s parents were alcoholics, and they divorced when he was five. “I didn’t handle it well,” he remembers. His youth was filled with hardship, neglect and abuse. He lived with his dad in a trailer, where he bore the full brunt of his father’s alcoholism for many years. Along the way, Steve also spent time in foster care and had trouble with the law.

Given his unhappiness at home, he moved out young but struggled to get on his feet — and no wonder. Steve never had a positive role model, let alone a stable life. During these early years on his own, he endured addiction and homelessness and repeatedly went to jail. “I wanted to do better, but I didn’t know how,” he remembers.

New Light, Old Problems

After nearly two decades of this hopeless cycle, a friend introduced Steve to Christianity. He began a faith journey, got married and held down a good job. “The problem was, my wife and I were both still alcoholics. We’d fight at night and make up in the morning. It was really dysfunctional.”

And it couldn’t last, even after Steve changed his life and got sober. Right about the time the pandemic was beginning, Steve and his wife began divorce proceedings. Feeling lost and unsure of his future, he decided to leave the area. “I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing,” he remembers. He wound up driving across the country to visit his sister in Florida. Somewhere along the way home, he committed his future to God.

Each day, Steve distributes water, Hope Totes and encouragement where they're needed most.

“I came back to Phoenix absolutely determined to change my life and serve the Lord wholeheartedly.”

A New, God-Given Purpose

After a great deal of prayer, Steve accepted a job at Phoenix Rescue Mission — one that draws on his life experiences and fills his heart with joy. “Each day, I drive around the city in one of our Hope Coaches, showing friendship and compassion to people who are suffering on the hot streets. I provide them with water, snacks, shoes and other basic needs.”

He continues: “But that’s just the beginning of what I and the other Hope Coach drivers do. We also provide extensive case management, giving people out there a realistic path to recovery. We pray together and listen to their stories, tell them God loves them, and invite them to experience His healing at the Mission. I tell them there’s hope here, not judgment.”

It’s a job tailor-made for Steve. “There’s not one thing those folks are dealing with that I didn’t go through.” That shared experience helps Steve connect with our homeless neighbors, and it moves many to accept his invitation. “Sometimes, a person comes to the Mission right away to escape the heat. Other times, it takes a year of constant visits or longer,” Steve says. But whatever it takes, he knows it’s worth it.

After all, he is living proof that God can redeem even the most broken of lives.

Your support gives Steve and other Hope Coach drivers the chance to help our homeless neighbors escape the harsh streets every day. Thank you for your faithful prayers and generosity!

Learn more about how Steve, our other Hope Coach drivers and our entire Street Outreach Team are serving our homeless and hurting neighbors at: phxmission.org/deliveringhope