Donald is a dear friend who attends the Vineyard regularly, helps in serving coffee, helps in serving the homeless and helps drive others to church. A couple of years ago he wrote this letter, and has agreed to let me post it here.
About four years ago, I was homeless at the Mt. Airy shelter, struggling to overcome a drug addiction of about 30 years. I started using drugs when I was 14, which led to me being incarcerated by 16. The habit grew worse over the years, but I didn’t realize that it was out of control until I lost my job in 1987. I tried to stop using and for years I was in and out of rehabs, but nothing seemed to work.
I had been kicked out of my house and alienated from my family. But the only thing that mattered was drugs and alcohol. I did whatever I had to do to get more – lying – stealing – deceiving. I was depressed and hopeless and desperate for any hope. When my wife died, I began using even more heavily and could no longer take care of myself or my family. I lost the children and became homeless myself. Once in a while I would go to the soup kitchen to eat, but for the most part I didn’t take care of my health. But I didn’t care. I saw no way out and had lost my will to live any longer. There was no love or happiness in my life – only drugs.
Then while at the shelter in 2004, I prayed for God to deliver me from this life. While at the shelter, someone picked us up every weekend to go to the Vineyard. The church opened up new hope and possibilities for me. When I walked in the door, the people there embraced me from the start, and showed me unconditional love and support. They showed me how to love myself and they restored my self-respect. I began to see that GOD loved me and wanted to show me a new way of life. So I enrolled in Alpha, and took the class twice. I attended Growth and Healing classes on Mondays. I joined in outreaches with the church whenever the opportunity presented itself. I began listening to Joel Olsteen, Dr. Joyce Meyers, Dr. Charles Stanley and several others. I was truly hungry for the Word, and this new hope and strength I found in JESUS CHRIST. My mind became transformed – I was no longer thinking only of myself and the next hit. I began to care about others and found new joy in serving them.
For the past four years God has healed me of addiction to drugs, alcohol and nicotine. I have been a cook at a restaurant, and my relationship with my family and children has been restored. I have been always seeking God, always wanting to learn more. I have a deep love for Christ and a passionate caring for others who are still lost and cannot find their way. I thank GOD for the church and my friends there for their love and support. I also love how they have opened their hearts to me and my family. I will always be grateful that I am a new creature in Christ and God has delivered me from HELL.