“My name is James Williams, and this is my testimony.”
I was eight years old when my mother and father went through a divorce. It broke our family up. My father was very abusive to my mother, so my mom ran with my siblings and me to keep us safe. There were times when we were homeless and had to live with other people. We never stayed in one place long, because we knew they didn’t want us there. Mother kept us in church every chance she got, and I am thankful for that. We moved around and never really had a stable home, but we knew she loved us. Life was kind of hard without my father being there. My mother struggled to keep a roof over our heads and keep us in school, but somehow she did it.
I remember in middle school wanting to feel like I was a part of something, I was trying to fill a void in my life. I started hanging with the wrong crowd, and it kind of took me down the wrong path. I was tired of moving from place to place … I didn’t think we should be living the way we were without a home to call our own. I found comfort in being a part of the “wrong crowd”. I was accepted by this new group of friends, and it felt good to be wanted. I was exposed to drugs and drinking at a young age by hanging around this new group of friends. I remember trying drugs and alcohol, but I didn’t give in to this lifestyle until I was older.
Never having a stable home caused homelessness to follow me into my adulthood. Over time, I found myself doing more drugs and not being able to support myself. I was becoming somebody who I didn’t like. This wasn’t me; it wasn’t the real me. I had become an addict.
My mom died, and that’s when I went deeper into my addiction. I was in a bad way. It was then that I realized, “I need to get out of this cycle. I need some help!” I got arrested and that was the best thing that probably could have ever happened to me. I had shelter. I had food. I had clothing. I had rest. I began to look like James again. I began to feel like James.
After I finished doing my time, I didn’t want to get out. I was afraid of going back to that lifestyle because I didn’t have any solid foundation. So I prayed. I prayed that God would put me in a place or lead me to a place where I can get some stability, strength, something that will hold me, some kind of good foundation. And I wasn’t going to leave the jail. I wasn’t going to leave until somebody or something good happened, and it did happen. This lady brought me an application for the Rescue Mission.
When I first got to the Mission, I was nervous, but the people here, the staff, made me feel… welcome. Come on in. Whatever you don’t have, we’re going to make sure you get it. You’re going to be okay. And I felt that… I felt this security from this place that I was going to be okay. I felt safe and welcome here.
I don’t miss doing drugs. I don’t miss being homeless. It’s like I’m in a new world. It’s like I’m in a better place than I was before, and my mind is in a better state than it was before. I think differently. I talk differently. I am different thanks to God’s love for me.
Before I came to the Mission, I was lost. The Mission has brought me out of that dark place and I’m grateful, very grateful. I’m loved. The Mission has taught me that I’m loved by God and others. I’m accepted by other people.
I plan to just be a better person and live a sober, clean life and love others like I’ve been shown love and been given love. I think that the key to life is to love somebody and share God’s love with others.