Sometimes people can experience so much physical pain in life they start to lose hope emotionally and spiritually. Here’s a powerful story about the transformation of one such man who came to, what he perceived was, the end of his road and lost his drive to keep going.
Harry grew up in Detroit. He wasn’t shown a lot of love and consequently struggled to grow and maintain relationships. Trust was elusive, almost impossible, so he preferred to be a loner. He found pleasure in life through working for a living. He was always able to finance his own needs through gainful employment. He made his living through the years as a skilled painter and construction worker. He could build a house from the ground up.
The years of hard labor were not good to his body and it began to deteriorate to the point that he could no longer work through the pain. He had to leave his profession and, eventually, he lost his home and began to live in his car surviving on odd jobs he could pick up. The final blow came when his car was stolen and all of his tools that were in the trunk.
When Harry showed up at the rescue mission his body was deteriorating, his spirits were low, his hope was gone, and faith in God was lost. However, he had just enough self-esteem to enter the men’s program. Although he wasn’t an addict he had no other options left. He was in so much physical pain he hoped that he could at least catch his breath while he was there.
Shortly upon his arrival the Iron Man Conference was being hosted by Pacific Coast Church at the mission. Harry attended and met Joseph, one of the men from the church. They hit it off well in their short time together and exchanged phone numbers.
I will never forget the day I got a call from Joseph, Harry’s new phone friend. Joseph was extremely concerned as he informed me that he got a call from Harry and the situation was above his “pay grade.”
Harry had called Joseph to inform him that he was sitting in an isolated spot in Los Angeles with a gun in his hand and was preparing to take his life. He had lost the drive to live.
I thanked Joseph for being there and for informing me. I immediately sent Harry a text…hoping and praying I wasn’t too late and that he’d be willing to communicate. Harry did answer my text. We began a texting dialogue. Every time I hit the send button I prayed that there would be a response. Four hours later Harry agreed to come back to the mission to talk in person. He is a very truthful man. He told me he would hide the gun in a safe place, where no one could find it, just in case he decided later he would need it.
Harry and I began to talk in person on a regular basis. We talked regularly about his hopelessness and pain. I didn’t have a lot of answers. About all I could do was to listen and pray for him. Harry and I began to form a relational bond, a trusted friendship, something he was not accustomed to experiencing.
He was willing to stay with the program and go to classes. As the days and weeks progressed his hope ebbed and flowed. He had good days and bad days. His emotions were all over the map. But through it all he kept the dialogue alive and continued his program elements.
To make a long story short, his faith was found, his hope was restored, his attitude changed, and we were even able to get him the medical attention he needed so disparately. Within a year Harry had graduated the program. Given Harry’s condition when he arrived he achieved something most everyone thought was unattainable.
He got an apprenticeship with the mission facilities team and was a valuable asset to our staff. He was always the first to volunteer for the workdays at the Compton Initiative. And to top it all off, we were so joyful to see him get baptized in the Pacific Ocean at our last Ironman Conference hosted by Pacific Coast Church.
Recently Harry found a place to live and a job working as the facility manager for a property management company. Harry attributes this incredible transformation to God. God has restored his body, his faith, and his drive to make a difference in the world.
This past week a good friend and Deed and Truth donor called to offer us a reliable car to give to someone in need. He told me that God had generously blessed him with the opportunity to get a new car. They felt so much gratitude for God’s generosity that they felt they too should be generous by giving the older car away instead of selling it. His financial advisor told him what a bad financial move that was given the car still had value. But they felt finances weren’t the priority in this situation.
As I’m sure you have put two and two together and realized that Harry is now driving that car. He was so blown away when I called to tell him the news. He called me on the way home from the transaction and was as giddy as a schoolboy.
Harry feels he still has a long way to go as he transitions into more independent living. Harry says, “to God be the glory” and thanks to the compassion of his phone friend and the generosity of his new friend… HIS DRIVE HAS LITERALLY BEEN RESTORED!