Stories of Transformation: Tyler

As we celebrate Easter, we're reminded of the new life and amazing transformative power to be found through Jesus’ work on the cross. It’s a powerful invitation to redemption often accepted by the men and women who come to the Phoenix Rescue Mission searching for help.

For Tyler Sivright, however, an atheist with a 16-year opioid addiction, who was born into a strongly anti-religion home, the acceptance of God’s invitation would take a bit of Godly intervention. “God introduced himself in my life by having me collapse in front of the doors of a church. The pastor came out, woke me up, and said he wanted me to go to the Phoenix Rescue Mission and just stay the night, so I did.”

The following day, Tyler fully intended to walk out, ready to go use again. But as he approached the gates of our Community Services Center, something strange happened. Suddenly, Tyler couldn’t leave. Tyler would later find out that it was God who was keeping him from leaving our Men’s Shelter. But long before God took hold of him, addiction ruled Tyler’s life.

He never sought drugs as a kid – they came to him. When he was 14, he was  prescribed highly addictive painkillers after surviving a serious car accident. Sadly, the craving for the pills outlasted the pain they were meant to treat. They also provided a convenient way to deal with the emotional turmoil he experienced at home. “Religion wasn’t allowed in the house. I was taught that people who believed in God were worthless. My parents were actually against religion so much that I was grounded for a week when I was a kid for going to a church event with a friend.”

On the day he turned 18, he was forced out of the house to make it on his own. But his addiction followed him throughout his young adult life, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find any lasting success. “You’re a slave to it [addiction]. Your mind is fixed on where you're going to get your next high. You can’t focus on hobbies, or exploring your talents… I couldn’t even go to the store unless I knew I had enough pills to stay high while I was doing it.”

Soon, he was unemployed, couch hopping, shoplifting and selling pills – until he was arrested and sentenced to a year behind bars. Incarceration led to the turning point Tyler desperately needed. It was the middle of July when Tyler was released. Alone with nothing to his name except for the clothes on his back, he wandered the deadly, sun baked streets of Phoenix for four days without food or water. He eventually collapsed in front of the very same place he had once been punished as a child for attending – a church.

Trusting in the restorative power of the Phoenix Rescue Mission, the church’s pastor brought him to our Community Services Center. But when Tyler attempted to leave the next day, he had an experience he would never forget. “It was like Christ Himself was putting a hand on my chest saying: ‘This is where I want you.’ At that moment, physically and mentally, I couldn’t leave! So instead I joined the recovery program and learned about a God I was told didn’t exist.” Here he found the truth – that God loved
Tyler so much He sent His Son to die on his behalf. With help from our counselors and staff, he became a student of the Scriptures, devouring books on apologetics and eventually coming to faith in Jesus Christ!

Today he's sober, has his own three bedroom home and loves his new job. In February, he accepted a position as a full time staff member at the Mission, helping with case management and teaching new residents about the new life in Christ. “I’m very happy doing what I do here – giving back. My goal is to stay in ministry and go back to school to become a counselor. But who knows, it’s wherever God leads me!”

Tyler’s story is just one of many stories of redemption, freedom and transformation you make possible with your support. Each one is a miracle, a true-to-life example of the power of Easter, demonstrated for all to see.