AFTER FLEEING FROM THE LAW, BRIAN SETTLES INTO MISSION’S PROGRAM
Several stints in jail left him yearning for a heart change
Brian was born to two teen parents in Santa Maria. After six years his young parents separated, leaving Brian and his sister to be raised by their father. “My dad took custody of my sister and me because he found out that bad things were happening at my mom’s,” Brian said. “After that I didn’t talk to my mom for seven years.” Brian’s dad ran a very strict house, only allowing Brian to attend school and football practice.
When he was 13, Brian and his sister reunited with their mother. “My mom found out things were rough and money had been tight with my dad, so she came and got us,” Brian said.
The lifestyle and rules were different at Brian’s mom’s house. “We never had our own room at my dad’s, but we did at my mom’s,” Brian said, adding that he enjoyed his own space and the life his mom could afford him and his sister. “My mom took us shopping for new clothes and shoes. She was materialistic and she loved nice things.”
Living with his mom not only gave Brian new clothes and shoes, but also gave him freedom. Unfortunately, Brian got sucked into gangs, drugs, and addiction. When Brian was 13 years old he began stealing cars and guns. His rebellious behavior escalated during his teen years; he started selling drugs. And just two weeks before high school graduation, he was expelled for gang activity. During this time, Brian would be placed on probation—and violate it— several times.
After his probation, Brian kept pushing boundaries. “I didn’t have to worry about the car getting searched anymore,” said Brian, who began going to parties and mixing dangerous drugs. “I also started selling drugs again.”
At 19, Brian was caught in an armed robbery. After his arrest, he entered the Mission’s program, but left. He met a girl, but due to “addiction to money, drugs, and women,” Brian went on the run to Arizona. He was pulled over, and due to a warrant out for his arrest, two Marshalls flew him back to California. “This was a turning point for me,” he said. “They put me in a military style program, but I got kicked out. I was happy to get kicked out because I wanted to go back to (the Mission).”
Brian remembered Director Chris Rutledge and connected with him even though he had been at the Mission for only a short period of time. “I called Chris and said, ‘I messed up the first time, but if you could find it in your heart to give me another chance, I can do this.’ So here I am.” His focus had shifted from “just a way to get out of jail” to wanting a heart change.
The transition into the program came easier for Brian the second time, since he had been in and out of boy’s camps, jail and prison. “I had been to jail and prison a total of eight times from 19 to 25, and I am over that lifestyle,” he said. The seeds of change had been planted within Brian from his time in the program. Brian knows his heart and mind have changed. “Right now the burden has been lifted and I feel lighter,” he said, adding that he finds volunteering to feed the homeless on Friday nights keeps him focused. Helping others and giving back to the community makes him feel better.
Brian has enjoyed the program’s focus on faith. “This program has made a change in my life and I am not so aggressive,” Brian said. “If I walk with Jesus, I know I’ll be ok.”