Michael’s story

Foster care—that was my life for fourteen years, from age four to eighteen. The State did not allow me to stay in one home longer than two years. As a result, I’ve struggled with trust issues. My birth mother, whom I saw on a fairly regular basis, taught me to cope with difficulty the same way she had, which was smoking and drinking.

When my mom died recently, I felt sad and alone. The path I was taking was not a good one. My living situation was unstable, and I was concerned about becoming homeless. Even though I knew changes were needed, I didn’t know how to begin.

My fiancé’s dad had gone through the Life Transformation (Recovery) Program at the Olympia Union Gospel Mission and recommended the Program to me. His encouragement prompted me to think seriously about it.

I determined to check it out by volunteering in the Mission’s kitchen. After a month of volunteer work, I had an interview with Jerry, the men’s counselor. I was accepted into the Jeremiah House to begin the Life Transformation Program.

I’m learning a lot. Being involved in a program like this is not easy. I knew that to gain the benefits and find a good path, determination on my part would be needed. However, there are still situations that try to pull me away.

One of these is staying clean from drug use. I’ve resolved to continue and stay clean, but it’s hard. Lifestyle changes never come easy. A related problem I face concerns those who doubt me. Friends don’t think I’m as fully committed as I say. Yet my determination is strong and I want to stick with it all the way.

I’ve found that it is easy to feel overwhelmed with all that is included in the Program. Classes, meetings, and commitments, along with work, keep me busy all the time. But I also understand that keeping my mind busy is a positive thing for getting better and healing. Trust and confronting stress is still hard, but I’ve found that I don’t need to get high to deal with the drama that happens.

Several positive things have happened since I’ve been here. Listening to the testimonies of the other guys and how they’ve dealt with things has been helpful. Working in the kitchen is the best part. I get a real boost when people make encouraging comments like, “You’re doing a good job.” In the morning group time, we talk about everything: adverse childhood experiences, ways to overcome everyday conflicts and work through the Genesis process, which has been helpful. Reminders like “Stick it out and things will get better,” or “Let go and let God,” help me through the rough patches and lift my spirits.

This is a tough program, and those who come into it have to be ready and want to change before it will work for them.

For a long time I tried to work the system [foster care], but now I am letting the system [God] work on me. Now instead of searching for my own path, I feel that if God wants something for me, He will put it in my way. I’m finding that doors that used to be closed seem to be opening a crack, and through those cracks, I’m beginning to see that there is a path laid out for me.
Interview by Donna M., Mission Volunteer

Read more in the current Newsletter.