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Addiction hits home for mission director

Nov 4, 2019

“I’ve seen how Jesus can take a life and transform it,” Jon said. “And that’s the motivation to step into the mission every day and work with the guys. And I’ve watched that with my mom, the ups and downs with the struggle with drugs and alcohol. But I’ve also seen what happens when Jesus truly gets a hold of a heart.”

When Jon’s mom Judy was just 5 years old, she was acting as a mule, transporting drugs to people’s houses and bringing money back to her family. “My mom’s story of abuse starts really young in her life,” Jon said. “It’s amazing that she’s alive. She doesn’t necessarily want to remember everything. We’re now just getting to the point where we can talk about some of the things that she experienced in her childhood.”

Jon’s unsure about how long his mom was struggling with drugs and alcohol when he was a child because his grandfather would shield him from her behavior. “He would take me out of the house at weird times,” he said. “I was a kid, so I was happy to be going out to play catch. Now I look back and realize it was because my mom was passed out.”

But when Jon was in sixth grade, things escalated. “My mom called me in the middle of a suicide attempt,” he said. “The call went pretty much like this: ‘Jon, I love you, I’m sorry. Goodbye.’ Click! I didn’t hear from her for 30 days. She ended up in rehab. I was brought there and was sitting across from my mother while she tried to explain to me what had happened.”

Jon’s dad got joint custody and his mom ended up moving to Idaho. “She came back into the picture when I was in high school. I tried to talk to her, but it’s pretty weird at this point after the suicide attempt, the abandonment.”

Jon and his mom didn’t talk again for many years. “While sitting in church one day, I just felt that the Holy Spirit was telling me she was going to contact me. She emailed me—she must’ve been in the 12-step program and making amends. She got arrested and was in jail. She told me she was on her cell room floor, crying out to God. He said, ‘Judy, you’ve been seeking love all your life. I love you, and you’re valuable and you’re important.’ She told me she put her faith in Jesus Christ. And I told her, ‘You’re my sister in Christ now.’ We had a very guarded relationship, and she was still in her recovery. There were still ups and downs, but things were OK.” Jon went on to plant a church in Fresno, and then moved to Santa Maria intending to do the same. “I was just trying to volunteer,” he said. “We ended up realizing I was called here to be a part of the rescue mission.”

A little over a year ago, Jon and his mom reconnected at a summit on the opioid crisis in Anaheim. Judy was instrumental in getting the summit off the ground, and Jon was a keynote speaker at the event. “I think after the summit, hearing me talk about her life, it broke something off in her,” Jon said. “Now she knows her son’s proud of her, as opposed to her son being broken by her.”

Now Jon and his mom see each other a few times a year and speak once a week. “I always have to call her after telling her story,” he said. “Before, if I were to say, ‘Hey, Mom, I’m telling your story,’ she would’ve gotten really hurt. Instead now, she’s like, ‘That’s so cool.’ She understands now the impact that it has on people.”

Judy now works with individuals in recovery to become counselors. “The wake behind her is all of these individuals who have been restored,” Jon said. “It’s true life change. And that’s the beauty of grace.”

I never dreamed I’d be the director of the Central Coast Rescue Mission, nor did I really ever desire to be,” Jon said, laughing. “I’m floored every day that I sit here because of the life change we get to be a part of. God’s not afraid of meeting people where they are at. But he doesn’t want to leave them where they are at. God loves them enough to move them to places that are so much better. And our job is to help people become willing and to see that. Being able to share your personal story, and say there’s hope, hopefully it inspires others to find that hope.”

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