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Testimony of the Month

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Alvin Fotualii: From Samoa to Utah, A Journey to Change

Growing up in American Samoa, I started drinking and smoking marijuana when I was just nine years old. Now, as a 27-year-old man, I am sober for the first time since coming to the U.S. when I was 17.

It was the relationship with Jesus I found at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake that changed my life. I have actually given my life to Him, so I am not the same person I was when I walked into the New Life Program. And, now that I know God, I do believe it was divine intervention that led me to the Mission a year ago.

Today I continue to work on my relationship with God. I have learned a lot about Jesus. He’s amazing. He’s life. He’s my only focus right now. He’s the one I can I can talk to and ask to help me with my struggles. When I wake up in the morning and go to work, I ask Him to protect me and to give me strength and energy. I need Him to keep me strong, so I never look back and keep moving forward.

And God really has blessed me. In addition to my sobriety, I have a good job at a donut bakery. I am able to use TRAX to get out to my bakery and even though I do work early hours (as all the baking needs to be ready for customers first thing in the morning) I still love my job and am thankful to be working. That job is important for me because ever since I left Samoa ten years ago I have struggled with employment, homelessness.

When I was boy I had to work at the local market everyday selling coconuts, bananas, and the other produce we farmed. Right after school I had to go straight to work. It was a hard life, made harder by the physically strict way my parents raised me. I don’t know if it was this early life experience or just my addiction soured me on work, but I have never been able to hold down a job and support myself for long.

So it has been a real blessing to feel joy in supporting myself and taking care of my needs through honest work. It was really the New Life Program that instilled this new work ethic in me. When I arrived at the Mission I was given a work therapy job in the Mission’s kitchen. There I would help cook and serve meals to the hundreds of homeless men, women, and children that sought food each day.

Serving in the kitchen gave me a good feeling. I looked forward helping hungry people. It made me feel good inside because I had been there. I had been homeless and hungry on the streets. I liked helping people who I could understand and relate to, all while giving them hope that change is possible.

After all, I have been in and out of jail for the last five years – ever since I began using meth. A year ago, I had been in jail for seven months and was facing two years in prison for drug possession when I asked my attorney for help. I told him that even if I got out of jail, I had nothing going on in my life that would stop me from going right back to being homeless and addicted. But, while I knew I couldn’t stay sober, I had heard there were programs that could help people who were addicts like me.

My attorney did some internet searches and when he returned he showed me some information about the Rescue Mission. He said he thought the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program would work for me, as long as the judge in my case would sign off.

The judge agreed. My attorney picked me up from jail and dropped me off at the Rescue Mission, where I learned – for the first time – that the New Life Program was a 13-month commitment. I got my attorney on the phone and told him I needed something a lot shorter, I was thinking three months. He told me I had two choices, do the New Life Program or spend two years in prison.

So I stayed.

Eventually, I came to realize it was really God working to put me in the place I needed to be. He led my attorney to recommend the Rescue Mission and caused the judge to accept the New Life Program instead of prison. God knew where I needed to be.

I have done so well on the New Life Program that a few months ago my probation officer sat me down and praised my performance. He told me I was inspiration to his team and made them feel fulfilled in doing their job. My probation officer wrote a letter to the judge in my case and the judge lifted my probation and now I have no remaining legal issues left to clear up. I am free legally and spiritually. In fact, I am no longer legally required to be in the New Life Program. But now I want to stay. I want to finish what I started.

In a month I will be graduating from the program with a fresh start. I will be debt free and even have some money saved up to get my own apartment, or to use to move into the Terri Timmerman Freedom House (the Rescue Mission’s transitional housing unit).

I want to thank the Rescue Mission, its supporters, and everyone who helped me change. Most of all I thank God for leading me to the place where I could give my life to Him and allow Him to change me. Please pray for me as I prepare to move out on my own. Pray that I would continue to find joy in my relationship with God, in my job, with my church family, and in sobriety. I feels great to finally have hope for the future.

 

Desire: What Do You Want?

This week I have had an unusually large number of life moments!

In my view, a life moment is an opportunity to touch another person’s life. Life moments are important because all too often they can determine if a person heads further down the road (in either a positive or negative direction). And, in some cases, these small blocks of time can influence if a person lives or dies (as we see often on the streets from the consequences of addiction).

This week a handful of people each day have stopped by my office or asked to talk when I was out and about. These people have ranged from professionals at the top of their career, to men and women on the New Life Program (some who are earnestly struggling for recovery and others who are figuring out if they really just want to go back to using), to homeless men and women sitting in the summer swelter in need of some motivation to change.

As the week progressed, my conversations with this diverse group seemed to focus in on desires – the things people want. And through these life moments, I came to a greater realization of the power of desire!

My conversations centered on people’s desire to make a difference and help others. There were conversations about the desire to help a person’s own children, spouse or other family member change their life I talked to people about their desire to love and forgive their own self. While other people talked to me about the desire to avoid pain and avoid responsibility.

Certainly, desires can be good and desires can be bad, but the reality is, desire is a key determiner of human life and behavior.

Often, for the homeless, the desire to avoid pain and responsibility creates apathy. If a person’s goal in life is to avoid pain and responsibility (two things that are ultimately unavoidable in this fallen world) then that person takes no risks, gives up, and falls into almost inescapable depression. It is really this apathy that we fight against most here at the Rescue Mission.

During our life moment opportunities, we fight to convince people that good, godly desires, like helping others, believing God, contributing to His plan for the world or simply the dignity of taking care of yourself are the desires that bring life. These are the desires that bring hope and satisfaction. When our desires are right, then our three important most relationships – the one we have with our own self, the ones we have with others, and the one we have with God – will be right. And when these three relationships are right, a person can be at peace, will still striving to be the individual they are supposed to be

So, pray with me that the life moments we all have – the times when an encouraging word or godly piece of advice might alter the course of someone’s life – will be meaningful. We should all pray that God will use us to encourage people to seek good desires and run away from desires that create apathy.

I encourage you to look for the life moments God might bring your way and, when they come, inspire people to good and godly desires. Pray for us here at the Rescue Mission, that we would have the courage and inspiration to do the same.

Chris D. Croswhite

Executive Director

 

STATS: HOW YOUR GIFT HELPS

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 JOB OPENING

The Rescue Mission is looking for an Executive Assistant with responsibilities in grant writing, data entry and media coordination. Applicants must be Bible believing Christians who are actively involved in a local Christian church. Ideal candidates will have a bachelor’s degree and strong writing, verbal and computer skills.

Email Eileen Crist at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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