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After Struggle With Gangs, Then Homelessness, Owen Finds Refuge

Oct 1, 2018

Owen’s excitement for his growing relationship with God and his heart for service is palpable. “I want to get in, do everything, help everyone,” Owen said with a laugh. “It’s because I love and appreciate what’s going on. I just have so much gratitude for what God’s done for me that I want to help everybody that I can.”

Owen didn’t always have such a giving nature. He was raised in an abusive home. “My dad beat me and my mother,” he said. “I was my sister’s protector, even though she was older. I’d take the blame so he wouldn’t hit her. There was a lot of dysfunctionality in my past, a lot of damage in my family relationships.”

He sought refuge in drugs and gang life. “My life just got progressively worse. I went from a criminalistic gang member to completely hopeless and homeless. That was my new family. I went from my dysfunctional family to my gang family to my homeless family.”

Although Owen was baptized at a young age, he says he didn’t truly give his life to Christ until four years ago, getting re-baptized in prison. “When I was released, I had hope that my life would turn out better. I did OK for a bit, but I stumbled. I was back in jail off and on for a couple more years.”

Owen mostly served time for drugs and theft—he was stealing to support his habit. At one point, he was in jail with a man, Chris—Owen also knew Chris’ mother from the streets. After completing the Life Recovery at the mission, Chris encouraged Owen to try it. “He had completely changed his life around,” Owen said. “He told me I needed to come here, and I said I would. I promised him. Then he fell. He overdosed. … He had given me so much hope. I feel like I’m here in his memory.”

Owen sees ministry work in his future. “I want to stay close to the mission, partner with them. My heart is with the homeless. I want to feed, clothe, and wash their feet. That’s where my heart is.” But for now, Owen said he’s being encouraged to take it easy. “I’m trying to rest and let God heal me.

“This program has been such a blessing. The gratitude I have for where God has pulled me, the gratefulness for what he’s done in my life, is my drive. It’s such a blessing to have refuge.”

He hopes his story will inspire others. “There are people who have known me when I was the worst of the worst,” Owen said. “I was a violent, horrible person. For them to see who I am today, they know there’s hope. That’s the biggest message I went to take from this and share: If I can do it, you can do it. It’s all because of God.”

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