Twenty years old and homeless. Addicted to a $100 a day habit. Mixed up with the Mexican cartel. There are a number of reasons Austin shouldn’t be alive today. But instead of cutting his life short, God instead used an unlikely messenger to save it.
Austin had been living without a home for about a year and a half. His daily routine consisted of waking up, finding some way to make money, buying heroin, getting high and going back to sleep. But it wasn’t because he enjoyed the feeling. He was trapped.
“When you withdraw from heroin, you wake up freezing cold, you’re sweating, you’re throwing up, it feels like your bones are breaking and that you pulled all your muscles.” Austin explains, “A day without it and that’s where I was.”
“After two years, my habit wasn’t about getting high for fun any more, I needed it just to survive.”
Traveling from drop house to drop house, Austin’s life was a blur. Then one night he got caught without a place to sleep and found a dugout to hole up in. At three in the morning a group of thugs happened upon him and beat him severely. Fortunately he managed to get away – but not before they broke his jaw and his cheek bone in three places.
But even a scrape with death wasn’t enough to motivate Austin to get help. Then something miraculous happened.
Austin explains, “I got into debt with my dealer. I owed her $30 and she confiscated my ID and my social security card as collateral until I could pay her. I convinced my mom that I owed a friend some money and she agreed to help me out so I could get my cards back. But when my mom handed her the money, instead of taking it, my dealer handed it back, told her all about my drug problem and that I needed help. She gave my cards to my mom and that was that. My mom had heard about the Phoenix Rescue Mission from a family friend. So the next day I checked in.”
Today, Austin is a graduate of our recovery program. He is sober, and thanks to our vocational development program he has a steady job at Subway with the goal of working to become a phlebotomist.
“Even though I grew up in a Christian home, it was here at the Mission where I experienced God for the first time,” admits Austin. “When that happened, I completely lost my desire to get high.”
Instead of traveling down a dead end road, Austin has a bright future ahead of him.