As I intently listened to the words shared by the 2016 Fall Graduation’s valedictorian, his story was familiar. They are  the fulfillment of Jesus’ words “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19). Yet every time I hear someone’s story of how they have received the good news about Jesus, are set free, are healed of physical limitations and are finding the Lord’s favor, I am in awe of a miracle.
Kerry Becker, the valedictorian, did not find restoration during his years in prison, but they were enough for him to know he wanted the cycle to stop. The fear it caused his wife, wondering every time he left would he return, the inability to truly love and raise his children, the hopelessness and despair he felt…he wanted more. With the little ambition they had left, Kerry and his wife Melanie, with their two children, came to Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope.
Kerry described entering Village of Hope felt like a breath of fresh air. They felt safe. Without delay they were filled with God’s word, the truth about love, forgiveness and freedom. The found the good news their souls were searching for.  Being set free, not just from they cycle of returning to prison, but their souls set free; it was the beginning of lasting change.
Many times throughout Kerry’s life he had set his sight on change, but he would fall short, and slip back into the destructive cycles and return to prison. What was different this time? Jesus set them free. This was the beginning of hope for the Becker family. But this hope was more than a wish, even more than a desire. This hope is the true hope that they found in Jesus – a confident, certain and strong expectation that is founded not just on their own abilities, but on God.
With ambition and hard work, Kerry quickly gained the skills needed to join the Village of Hope’s catering team. He learned to take pride in his work, and to do his best. In Kerry’s words, they were set up for success, to be able to move toward making an honest living as a self-sufficient family. Kerry began full time employment in April, while Melanie worked at securing child care for their children. Not long after Melanie began working full time as well, they were able to save the money needed to graduate and move into their own apartment. The Beckers say their future is bright.