Sometimes God doesn’t take ‘No’ for an answer, and neither should we.
We’ve all seen them standing on the corner, dirty and disheveled, holding a cardboard sign that says ‘help.’ Your heart goes out to them. Maybe you’ve said a prayer on their behalf. Maybe you’ve bought them lunch. Maybe you’ve even stopped to give them a word of encouragement and one of our Rescue Referral Cards – only to see them back on the street the next day.
Don’t give up.
That’s what Patrick, the CVS manager with a heart of gold, would tell you. He and his parents never gave up on Steven. And that determination saved Steven’s life.
Steven has been wrestling with alcoholism since he was 15. His mom was an alcoholic and his dad turned a blind eye, so drinking came second-nature. After decades of use, alcohol’s hold on Steven was so strong that nothing could shake it, not even watching it take his mother’s life.
“I came home one day and she was coughing up blood. I told dad and we picked her up and started taking her to the car. Halfway there she went limp in my arms. She died. I couldn’t deal with it.”
Instead of teaching him not to follow her footsteps, the experience caused Steven to lean harder into his addiction. No longer a functional addict, he started showing up to work hungover and soon lost the hotel security job he had held for 17 years. Eventually he drank through his entire savings and found himself living out of a motel, down to the last $15 in his bank account. Thankfully, he wasn’t alone.
“I was buying my alcohol at a CVS across the street and I got to know the manager there. His name was Patrick, and I got to be friends with him.”
Patrick took a special interest in Steven. He saw the toll the alcohol was having, but didn’t know how to help – until an encounter behind the store told him he needed to act.
“I was hanging out at the back of the store when Patrick came out to sweep. He saw me and I was so embarrassed. He asked me what I was doing. I told him, ‘I’m homeless now.’”
The next day, Patrick returned with solutions in hand.
“He tells me that his mom had been making calls for me and she wants me to try a few places. I say, ‘thank you, I appreciate you, but no thanks.’”
Undeterred, Patrick changed his tactic.
“Then he calls me into the store the next day and says, ‘I’ve got a couple of numbers for you, I want you to give them a call.’ One of them was the Phoenix Rescue Mission. He hands me the phone, I call, and I find out that it’s a Christ-centered recovery place, but I didn’t know what that meant so again, I said, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ and I left.”
But Patrick didn’t take no for an answer.
“Two days later Patrick comes to me and says, ‘My dad is picking you up. You’re going to the Phoenix Rescue Mission.’ It must have been the Good Lord because for some reason, I said, ‘Ok.’ A short time later, his dad, David, pulled up, and drove me to the gates. He dropped me off and told me ‘good luck!’”
Thanks to advance notice and the support of friends like you, we were able welcome Steven with open arms. He stayed with us for five months as a part of our job-program – Solutions. In that time, he got sober, he found a job, and saved up $5,000. But despite outward appearances, nothing had changed on the inside.
“I took my savings, found a cheap motel room close to my new job and shacked up there. But then a buddy of mine came to hang out with me and that was that. I started drinking again.”
Soon, Steven was right back where he started. But he had learned enough here to not give up on himself. He headed back to the Mission to find what he had missed the first time around.
“This time I had to go through Foundations. I thought that was for druggies and alcoholics. I certainly wasn’t one of those! But I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I gave it a shot.”
It was a decision that changed everything.
“I went to chapel that night. The pastor asked, ‘Is there anybody here who doesn’t know God?’ I raised my hand and looked around. I was the only one. So he called me up and put his hands on me and starts praying. The guys in the audience and the rest of the clients are all putting their hands on me and they prayed me in. I gave myself to Christ right there.“
Something changed inside Steven. Suddenly, this stranger to the Bible became a dedicated student. He not only completed Foundations, he graduated from our full recovery program, our Servant Leadership Training program, and even our rigorous Ministry Training program! Today, he’s sober, he’s earned his high school diploma and he’s made so much progress that he’s become a part of our case management staff here at the Mission – all because of you and the faith of a friend who wouldn’t give up.
“God has just blessed me. I love what I do. I love coming to work. I look forward to it. I get up each morning and I’m like, ‘Let’s do this!’ I tried to go back to thank Patrick, but he doesn’t work at that CVS anymore. No one there could tell me where he went. But I remember him telling me that his parents volunteered around here; maybe they’ll see this.”
If there’s one thing that Steven’s story has taught us – it’s never give up hope. We have the solution; keep praying, keep handing out Rescue Referrals, each one is a ticket to a new life. You never know what God will do! Thank you for the support that continues to make Phoenix a brighter place for men, women, and children!