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Testimony of the Month

joel warburton

JOEL WARBURTON: The Miracle that Stitched a Family Back Together

 

This Christmas Eve will mark 18 months of sobriety for me, after using meth almost every day for the last 20 years. I am grateful and know I couldn’t have achieved this new life without the Rescue Mission.

The way I ended up at the Rescue Mission seemed like a miracle. I was sitting in jail, waiting to get sentenced to prison. I was facing prison time after I stole several pieces of heavy machinery off a work site. Those crimes meant I had amassed 36 felonies over the past 20 years. Every time I got in trouble it was because of drugs or because I stole something to get money for drugs.

This time the judge had already told my lawyer that I would be sentenced to prison. My list of felonies was too long for me to try a drug treatment program. But on the day we went to court for sentencing, my lawyer had a paper about the Rescue Mission. He showed the paper to the judge and I was shocked when the judge said I could be put on probation and join the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program.

I have experienced many miracles since that first one. Maybe most importantly, God has repaired my relationships with my family. Over my years of using and selling meth, they had grown to distrust me. I let them down and stole from them so many times that they couldn’t rely on me anymore. Still, when they saw that God was changing my life at the Rescue Mission, they welcomed me back.

Change wasn’t easy, especially at the start. I had mentally prepared myself for a long prison term so I was shocked to be released to the Mission. I had never lived at a homeless shelter before and spent that first night sleeping on the chapel floor since that was the only space available. The next day I called my probation officer and told him I couldn’t do it. I told him he should come arrest me and I would just do my prison time. But he convinced me to stay for a few more days.

The other men on the New Life Program knew I was struggling so they would do things to cheer me up. One guy got a towel, some tights, and some big funny slippers. He dressed up and acted like a super hero in front of me, just to lighten my mood. It sounds silly, but little things like that showed me there were people around the Mission who cared about me and wanted me to succeed. I found myself developing friendships with people who believed in God.

I began singing in the evening choir before chapel. I talked with my counselor about the emotional and spiritual struggles I was having and I started actively participating in the daily Bible studies. I began to look forward to going to my church, Gospel Grace, where I made some good friendships. Eventually, I realized I needed church each week to recharge my batteries so I could get through another week sober and joyful.

I never thought God would change me like He has.

Before I had a relationship with God, I was a meth addict and dealer. I sold enough meth to afford a mortgage on a house. Still, even as a dealer, I was using meth constantly and my life began to fall apart in addiction and incarceration. When I wasn’t selling meth, I dreamed up scams to steal.  I would shoplift and then return the items for cash or gift cards. I would create fake businesses to trick people into giving me money. I am not proud of this, but I share it to show that if God can change someone like me, He can change anybody.

When I moved into the job phase of the Mission’s New Life Program I started working at a box-manufacturing company downtown. It was awesome to see God get me a job so fast. When I graduate I will be leaving that job and will move down to Utah County to live with my brother. He operates some sober living houses for people who are struggling with addiction. He wants me to help run one of the houses.

I am excited for this opportunity. I believe I can offer encouragement to people who are trying to get sober, especially because of what God has helped me overcome.

So that is one of my goals: to get involved in these programs and make a difference in the lives of others. Of course, my main goal is keeping my relationship with God like it is now. I need to let Him guide me, instead of me guiding myself. That is the only way I will stay clean and sober and not fall back into the old ruts I have been for years. After I have experience in full-time work for a while, I would love to go to college and study business. At one point, between all the swindling and meth-dealing, I had my own landscaping business specializing in rock walls. I think if I had more education I could make the business work better and make it a long-term success.

I am glad God did a miracle and brought me to the Mission. Instead of being a prison inmate, I have become a productive member of society.

I want to thank all the Rescue Mission’s supporters who blessed me with a place where I could come learn about God, get off drugs, find a job, and repair my relationships with my family. Please pray for me as I graduate and move in with my brother. I need to stay connected to God and His people, like I have been for the past year. I need God now more than ever, so pray that He would continue to do miracles in my life.

 

  

HELPING HOMELESS WOMEN THIS DECEMBER

In the month of Christ’s birth, a month filled with love, family and blessings, it seems disconcerting to share about the vulnerability of women on the streets. Yet homeless women need our help and God’s love in every season, including at Christmas time. After all, the Christmas story is about—at least in part—a homeless woman giving birth.

This December the Rescue Mission will help our community better understand the plight of homeless women. We are working with KUTV Channel 4 and other television stations on news pieces that will illustrate how hard life is for women on the streets. I am thankful to be working on these news pieces and hope these educational efforts make a difference.

One overwhelming pain that women on the streets feel is the separation they have from their children. Many homeless women have children but those children are not living with them. In some cases they are living with other family, or in foster care. In some cases homeless women don’t even know where their kids are or how to contact them.

That pain comes in addition to fears for personal safety. Women, at times, are forced to acquiesce to manipulative men in exchange for a meal, shower, warm place to sleep and relative safety. Rescue Mission staff have been trained to identify such manipulators in case they attempt to find victims at the Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission Women’s Center and Cassie Warner, the crisis counselor at our main location, stand ready to help women in difficult situations. The main point of help is our New Life Recovery Program, yet our emergency services such as shelter and meals are the front door to changing lives.

Through our partnership with these television stations we hope to convey the plight of homeless women to the greater community in a way that encourages people to help homeless women off our streets. Women, after all, make up approximately 30 percent of the people living on our streets.

Please pray for myself, other staff members and our homeless friends as we focus on homeless women this month. Pray that in addition to the struggles, we will also be able to share the victories. The good news is that God is changing the hearts of homeless women and restoring relationships with their children. Many ladies we work with at the Rescue Mission find healing from past abuse and are reconnecting with their kids and families. With God’s help they can once again feel the joy of being called mom, wife, sister, daughter and friend.

Mary was once homeless, but God used her to perform a miracle: His own Son was born on Earth. And just like when Jesus was born, God still does miracles in the lives of homeless women. We want people to know about those miracles.

Thank you for all your prayers and support, especially during this busy Christmas season. Please pray that we would continue to rescue hungry and hurting women from the streets, even as we provide comprehensive services to the entire homeless community.

 

God bless you,

Chris D. Croswhite

Executive Director

P.S. Help the homeless by Christmas shopping!

Go to smile.amazon.com and log in to your amazon account. Once logged in, you can use the search bar at the lower right to find a charity. Type “Rescue Mission of Salt Lake” into the search window and choose “Rescue Mission of Salt Lake Inc.” Amazon will donate half of a percent of your total purchases to the Rescue Mission.

 

 

STATS: HOW YOUR GIFT HELPS

Stats 2017 Dec capture

 

 

 WAYS YOU CAN HELP HOMELESS ADULTS AND KIDS THIS CHRISTMAS

While our pantry was stocked for Thanksgiving, we served so many meals that our cupboards are bare again!

We have less than a month to prepare for what may be an even greater season of outreach, including our Annual Christmas Banquet for our homeless community. The truth is, many of Utah’s homeless don’t have anywhere to go for the holidays. So we want to be a “family” for those who have none. This December, we are planning to serve another 1,500 meals at our banquet and provide over 10,000 hot meals and hundreds of Family Food Boxes to needy families. Our food service comes in addition to handing out warm winter coats, new socks, hats, gloves, long pants and thousands more items of clothing.

Newsletter special Dec 2017We hope that our great food, warm clothes and smiling faces might be the encouragement a person needs to join our New Life Program, which changes lives by helping people off the streets and into employment, housing, and restored family relationships. Please pray that our Christmas outreach would touch many lives this year as we celebrate the birth of Jesus—and please prayerfully consider how you can be a part!

 

 

 pdfRescuer December 2017

 

Looking for more testimonies? You can find them all in our Archives. Also, check out our Videos.

 

 
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