For many, homelessness has a far greater effect than just the lack of a home. James and Sarah are just one of many families that come to us out of a rough and painful life, with their guard up, not ready to believe someone could really care for them. For so long, they had been unloved, rejected, and abandoned.
At the Rescue Mission, we have the opportunity to show families like James and Sarah’s the love and compassion that Jesus Christ has first shown us. We too were unworthy, unloved, and rejected, but we have a Savior who loves and cares for us even so. It is our mission to share that love with the Least, the Last, and the Lost, just as Jesus does.
This is James & Sarah’s story.
Though heartache from the past set them on the path of addiction, James and Sarah were trying their best to get clean.
Trying to get clean felt like climbing up a mountain. Going a few steps forward only to slide back down. Or making progress, only to find the way blocked by a huge boulder. It seemed like wherever they went, substance abuse followed them.
“We looked at a back-to-work program but we just never got in,” Sarah remembers. “A friend said we could come and live with him in Riverside. He meant well but it turned out he wasn’t sober. We were going from one bad situation to another.”
Life became more and more precarious. James and Sarah found themselves living in motels, in their car, on friends’ living room floors. They worked part-time and odd jobs, but they were just barely surviving. “I remember being so hungry one time I ate a sandwich at a store because I was afraid to leave with it. I ate it walking up and down the aisles,” Sarah shares.
Then Sarah discovered she was pregnant.
“We knew we couldn’t have the baby and not have a stable place to stay. Every day we were losing hope in what we were going to do,” says Sarah. Then the call came that they had been accepted into Orange County Rescue Mission’s Village of Hope.
With the immediate need of shelter met, they found themselves facing an entirely different struggle — believing that this was a place where people really cared about them.
“When we got here, we were so broken,” Sarah says. “I was never used to people caring,” adds James. “I would never allow people to get close to me. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t like the person I saw.”
Little by little, James’ and Sarah’s defenses came down. A few weeks later, their daughter Olivia was born. “I had Olivia in the hospital and the nurse said we could stay one more night but we wanted to take Olivia ‘home.’ It was the first time I called the Mission home,” Sarah recalls.
Today, the smiles on their faces speak volumes. The counseling, classes and work program at the Mission have helped heal their wounded spirits and have given them the desire to help others.
“Once I just surrendered and gave this whole thing a try, it’s just been a blessing,” says James. “My sobriety and my salvation are what’s most important to me right now. This place saved my life.”
Sarah agrees. “I could finally breathe when we got here. We were finally safe. My daughter wouldn’t have to experience the instability we had put ourselves through.”
Because of you, families like James and Sarah’s now know they are loved and cared for. They are able to stay together and get a second chance to start a whole new life. Thank you for your compassion and care!
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