Gregory calls Mission program ‘saving grace’

Gregory started drinking and smoking when he was just 12 years old. By 14 or 15, he was using amphetamines. “There was a gang of kids who always played together in the neighborhood—kickball, baseball, whatever,” he said. “We always hung out, just like brothers and sisters. Then all of us got addicted to drugs. We tried it, and boom we were addicted to speed. We just liked the feeling. It helped us do things a little faster.”

But it got to the point where Gregory was just trying to avoid coming down off the drugs. He dropped out of school in ninth grade. “I just wanted more to get back up,” he said. “It started being a problem with my family and my social life. I lost my friends and my girlfriend. I was stuck, alone, addicted to drugs. Drugs got in the way of any opportunities to become successful.”

Last year, both of Gregory’s parents passed away—his mom in June and dad in December. He has two sisters and a brother, but his addiction has put space between them. His sister did text him, but he had to call the coroner to confirm the deaths of his parents. “I even called the mortuary and looked up their obituaries online, just to really know in my mind they were gone,” he said.

The last six years have been “horrific. The last year or two in particular, I was so addicted, I was hallucinating. I was having visions of my dad, even before I knew he had died. I would just get my drugs, go to the beach, or sleep on State Street. It was a vicious cycle. I’ve basically been going from the streets to shelters to ministries. I’ve lived mostly at the beach or at the Veteran’s Center or warming shelters.”

Gregory spent last June through October in jail before coming to the Mission. “I was welcomed here,” he said. “I met all the guys, met the staff. Everyone was very friendly and open to my presence here at the Mission.”

Already Gregory has seen a change in his mindset. “I have emotional, complex, sometimes irrational thoughts and feelings, and sobriety and this program are keeping my actions in check,” he said. “The best way to work on a person’s sobriety is with the Bible. The word of God gives us the instructions and understanding that we need, and the structure in our lives that we need. People really need Jesus.”

Gregory wants to graduate from the program and move to the transitional living program. “The counseling here is pretty great,” he said. “Luke (the Mission’s program manager) does a good job. He gets into your heart, digs into how you’re really feeling and what you’re working on. We are assigned different work and books to read.”

He is currently working through a book called “Grief.” “I missed my mom and my dad’s funeral due to my addiction,” he said. “I was in jail at the time my mom passed—I felt her passing at that period of time.”

Attending church has also been helping Gregory heal. He goes to Grace Baptist Church, where he’s experienced a “very open and friendly” congregation “full of kind people.” He’s also connected with his sister, just sharing that he’s moving forward in his sobriety and dedication to God. Gregory is looking forward to restoration with his son and daughter-in-law, who have 10 children between them.

After six months of sobriety, Gregory is seeing things more clearly. “I’ve been using trying to find that place of solace—and now I’ve found it at the Mission. I’ve made adjustments internally, spiritually. I’m working through the turmoil and grief.”

There are 11 clients in the Life Recovery Program now, and Gregory enjoys doing devotions together. “We share with each other, one at a time, at a big meeting,” he said. “We all get along. We all love to cook together.

“The Mission is a great place for anybody who wants a second chance at life, a renewed spirit of love and compassion, and to build a better life for themselves. When you’re in addiction, you aren’t living. You aren’t vibrant—you’re full of junk, not life.

“I know God is in control of everything. He’s in charge of the universe and my whole being. I’m so grateful I got into the program—it was a saving grace.”