George is six months sober.

George is six months sober.

When George looks back at his life, he acknowledges that he didn’t have much of a childhood. “When I was small, my mom abandoned me,” he said. “My dad wasn’t really around—he was but he wasn’t—usually in prison or jail. I kind of raised myself. A little bit of everybody helped out.”

That included his friends’ parents, until he realized he had some family. His grandmother looked after him for a bit, and other family members as well. “They couldn’t really handle me. I was already running the streets. At 13 or 14, I started going to juvenile hall.”

A friend’s mother had given him his first taste of alcohol at 9 so he would pass out. “I remember a lot of bad things happening when I was little,” George said. “It started really early, some really bad situations. I was abused as a kid by family members and friends—sexually and verbally. I started getting into trouble and at 14, discovered drugs. They helped me escape the person I was and what happened.”

George didn’t attend school. “I never went,” he said. “I started getting into gangs, I was getting high—I was running the streets. I was just out of control.”

This was life for George for many, many years. A year ago, he was in prison and looking at a life sentence. “I was in a little cell for five years. I started having an asthma attack—it was a bad day,” George said. The sixth time he asked to get out for a breathing treatment, the guard refused. “He said, ‘If you’re going to die, die.’ And he shut the window.”

“This is the only thing that’s worked. It’s the only time I’ve wanted to change and do good. This is a God-blessed program.”

George had been considering suicide, and made the decision then to end his life. He had a knife in his cell. “The minute I was going to do it is the moment I met Jesus Christ. I heard a voice, and He asked me, ‘George, what do you want from me?’ I thought it was coming from the ceiling, so I looked up. I said, ‘Who are you?’ and he said, ‘My name is Jesus Christ and I love you.’ I said, ‘If you love me, you’ll stop me from killing myself.’ He left, but he didn’t leave me.

“The same day, I was brought a Bible through my tray slot. It was God telling me to read his word. Since then, my life has changed. I have a new outlook, hope, vision—everything is so much better. It’s still hard, but it’s better.”

Shortly after his experience, the judge offered George the opportunity to go to a program, which he did. “I talked to Luke (the Mission’s program manager) and from the first minute there was a connection. I knew it was God’s will.”

George said the program has been hard, but he thanks God for the Mission and the staff, who he says genuinely care about him. “All this is new to me,” he said. “I’m not used to being out here and functioning and sober. I’m not used to having friends and trusting people. I’m used to being lied to, to being burned. It’s all new and scary, and I get doubtful sometimes, but then God intercedes and brings me back up and gives me strength.”

George has tried programs in the past. “This is the only thing that’s worked. It’s the only time I’ve wanted to change and do good. This is a God-blessed program. God is working here and I’m glad to be a part of it.

“I love my new life with God. Every day is a fight. It’s a struggle, but I cherish what God has for me.”