Steve didn’t know who he was, or why he even existed. Stuck down in southern California, and surrounded by nothing but isolation in “The Happiest Place on Earth,” Steve was homeless and addicted to drugs. He wanted out, and he saw two paths: End his life, or do whatever it takes to get better and recover from a life of hopelessness and drug abuse. He chose the latter.
Little did Steve know he was about to be the beneficiary of a miracle at a Greyhound bus station. On the back-end of a 12-mile walk, and after an extraordinary encounter with a sister he hadn’t seen in 15 years, Steve’s life was about to change forever. He purchased a bus ticket north, and headed straight for our men’s New Life Ministry at The Harbor.
“My life before Portland Rescue Mission was a mess,” he said. “I had nowhere to go and nobody to care about. … The only thing that kept me going was God, because I didn’t particularly care for anything or anyone but myself. I just knew I wanted to stay off drugs.”
It wasn’t long, though, until Steve found his old way of life and all the burdens of his past choices fade into something much more meaningful. He was becoming someone else entirely—someone who not only cares deeply about others, but someone who has “done things at The Harbor I never ever would have expected.”
Since graduating from our New Life Ministries, and completing a very tough 12-month recovery process, Steve was accepted into our Service program to stay on an additional year at the Mission. (Service is an optional second year of vocational training where participants learn valuable work and life skills while taking on leadership responsibilities at the facility). He now spends his days serving as an advocate for residents of The Harbor, and helping men who are new to the program transition into a new reality. Steve helps men get to outside appointments and other places they need to go, serves as a mentor and confidant for men who just need somebody to talk to, and sometimes helps as an unofficial multimedia guru in charge of taking photos and videos.
“I’ve learned a lot about patience. I’ve learned how to be more responsible for myself, and how to care about others in ways I never really did before,” Steve said. “I’ve learned a lot about being with people, and I’ve realized you don’t have to know somebody to love them.”
His life has changed in other ways as well.
“I’m not worrying about things. I wake up and feel blessed to have what I have,” he explained. “I don’t have to look over my shoulder anymore and I don’t have to live the way I used to. I’m just really grateful for everything.”
And above all else, since Steve came to The Harbor, he discovered something he never really thought about or cared much about at all. He found God.
“I came to Portland looking for guidance—looking for somebody that could teach me what I couldn’t learn myself. I learned how to start recovery and stay off drugs,” Steve admitted. “I never expected for my time to make any sort of a spiritual difference in my life until now.”
(SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE HARBOR GRADUATION)
GROWTH LEADER BOB RAPP ON STEVE’S RECOVERY JOURNEY:
(To Steve:) When you came to the Mission, you didn’t really know God. You didn’t really know who other people are, and you certainly didn’t know who you are. You were all scrambled up. I’ve seen a huge change in you. I’ve seen you start to really know God, experientially. I’ve seen you begin to understand who other people are, and care about them. I’ve seen you grow and understand who God created you to be. You are a precious man who is learning about who you are, and what your strengths, gifts and passions are. It’s been a joy to see. Not only are you serving more deeply, but genuinely from your heart. I’m so proud of you. Keep up the good work because God’s working in and through you. Good job.
Phillipians 4:10-13 (NIV): I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
(WATCH STEVE’S “STORY OF HOPE” BELOW)