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MIGUEL MARVELS AT HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 8 MONTHS SINCE GRADUATION

Miguel

It’s been eight months since Miguel graduated from the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. He still can’t believe how different his life looks now, just a year-and-a-half since he first sought help. “To be where I’m at and to have everything I have, it’s crazy,” he said. “Being able to go to the program, and just having the opportunity to get myself together—I wish everyone could do that.

“I was there during COVID, and we were kind of locked down. We did a lot of outreaches, but I knew, once I was done with the program, life would really start. I took advantage of my time there, and I enjoyed it. I knew that the only thing I needed to do during that time was reconnect with the Word.”

Miguel has had problems with drugs since he finished high school. “I’ve been struggling ever since. I feel like I’ve been struggling my whole life,” he said. “Now that I look back, I see that I didn’t really know who I was. I was always trying to find myself. I wanted to feel loved.”

Miguel is an electrician and has worked since he was 18. But he’s always felt like the family’s black sheep, especially when he compares himself to his brother, a firefighter, and sister, a nurse. After being rejected from the Navy due to drugs, Miguel became angry. “I was ready to change my life then, and it didn’t work out. Throughout my life, I would get angry at God. When things were going badly, I’d think, ‘I could’ve had this, I could’ve had that. Instead of fixing the problem, I’d complain about the problem.”

Miguel spent time in jail, which made it harder to “get on my feet,” he said. “So I stayed on the streets, surviving on my own. I’ve been homeless pretty much since I was 18, living at rehabs, programs, and for the most part, friend’s houses.”

Miguel felt a change immediately after getting to the Mission. “Right when I talked to Chris (Rutledge, Mission director), I felt that God was putting me in this spot. He was so welcoming, and that was everything I was missing in my life, feeling welcome. They made me feel really comfortable here.

“The Mission was a safe haven for me. I came in and didn’t have to worry about anything. They provided everything—a place to stay, shower, eat. I talked to Chris a lot and was mentored by him. He taught me how to deal with different behaviors and conflicts. He would tell me, ‘Maybe you need to look at things like this.’ Everyone needs someone to talk to, a Christian mentor. It’s comforting.”

Before Miguel entered the program, he met a woman and she became pregnant. The child was taken at birth, as the mother tested positive for drugs, and was put into foster care. A few months after arriving at the Mission, Miguel said he’d visited his son Zion, and was trying to get custody.

Miguel graduated from the Life Recovery Program in November 2020 and found an apartment in December. That month he also went to a custody hearing, where the judge ruled in Miguel’s favor—father and son were reunited more than six months ago. “It’s just the two of us,” he said. “He loves making messes— he dumps out cereal boxes—and playing with balls and throwing stuff. He’s always on my back and we go to the playground. Everything is good.”

There are things he misses, though. “I enjoyed making dinner for everybody at the Mission, and having a fully stocked pantry and kitchen to work with,” Miguel said. “The brotherhood there, the devotions, being in that Christian environment—it’s key. I have my own place now, and life is busy. Inside the Mission, it’s great. You’re connected all the time.

“My stresses were different. It was about getting my mind right then. It’s a struggle out here in society with bills and taxes and everything else. But God placed everything in the right order. It’s been a journey.”

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