01 Sep Jeff’s Story
Jeff is convinced if he hadn’t come to Hope Ministries earlier this year, he wouldn’t be alive today. Drug and alcohol abuse had taken their toll, an addiction that began when he tried marijuana for the first time at only eight years old. At age 40, he found himself homeless, living in a storage unit in Florida, broken and alone.
“I felt so much shame,” he remembers. “I’d gone from being a fitness trainer for wealthy people to living in a storage unit, riding my bike to the laundromat, carrying all my clothes in a garbage bag. I had a gym membership so at least I had a place to shower, but eventually, I couldn’t even afford that.”
Plus, Jeff’s sister called to let him know that back in Iowa, where he’d grown up, his mom was very sick. And during the call, she begged him to get help for his addiction.
“I tried to get into a treatment program in Florida, but it was a three-month wait. I didn’t have three months. With every bender, I was that much closer to death.” Desperate, he got on his knees and prayed for a way home.
Thankfully, he made it to Iowa. But several days of living in his car during winter led to frostbite, which landed him in the hospital. And that’s when he called Hope Ministries. When he was released from the hospital, he came to our Bethel Mission men’s shelter.
“I was just so thankful to be out of the cold and to be somewhere safe,” he says. “I hadn’t showered in sixteen days. I hadn’t shaved. I was a mess.”
At our shelter, Jeff no longer has to worry about where he’s going to sleep at night. He doesn’t have to stress out about paying for laundry or where he’s going to take his next shower. He is receiving three free meals every day . . . and he’s receiving nourishment for his soul, as well.
“This place is so good for people who are in active addiction and who don’t know what else to do. When you’re caught in that cycle, every dollar you get goes to feed your addiction and getting out of it is so hard. But God wants us to get out of this addiction and despair. He wants us to change. There’s hope for all of us.”
Jeff is grateful for the support of his mom, dad and sister and for the support system he’s building through healthy friendships, and though he never wants to go back to the way his life used to be, he’s grateful that it led him to where he is now.
“I had to be broken in order to shine light, like one of those glow sticks that you have to bend and break for it to light up,” he says. “I didn’t know where to go or where to turn, but God brought me here. He gave me a purpose. My limited past has nothing to do with my future. My future is limitless.”