Jamie is grateful and blessed this Thanksgiving

“I was frustrated and tired… I couldn’t believe in myself.”

Jamie grew up believing in God – but as he went through deep struggles and dark years, he learned how to really trust the Lord and walk closer to Him.

At a young age, Jamie lost both his father and his twin brother. That loss filled him with a pain he didn’t know how to accept.

“I never blamed God. I know things happen for a reason,” he said. “But I just couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t understand why, and I took that burden with me. It tore me down deep inside.”

As a kid, he began spending time with bad influences, which led him to start using drugs. As he got older, he learned he was experiencing kidney failure due to high blood pressure, and he had to choose: take his chances living normally, or start dialysis treatments.

At 21 years old, he didn’t want to be on dialysis. He prayed to God to get him through it all – but he didn’t want to deal with the pain. For years he skipped treatments, chose not to take his medications, and all the while continued with his drug use. “I was playing Russian roulette with my life,” he said. “I was frustrated. I was tired. I was going through a lot of things.”

But when his two kids started expressing their concerns and asking him to get better, he changed his mindset. He had seen other dialysis patients pass away, and he realized he didn’t want to die. He started taking his medications and going to dialysis regularly, and after 13 years, he received a kidney transplant.

When he recovered, he went back to school to receive his high school diploma. He was proud of his accomplishment and knew it could lead to good things for his life. But at this point, Jamie was still living with his addiction, and the drug use escalated. “I went to be a medical assistant,” he explained, “but I didn’t get far, because I was so focused on the streets.”

One day, his mom called. “I’m begging you to get help,” she told him. He realized then that he needed to change the way he had been living.

He went to the hospital, and from there he was directed to the Jersey Shore Rescue Mission, where he stayed as an overnight guest for seven days. Within that first week, Mission staff and interns began asking if he wanted to join our long-term addiction recovery program. After praying about it, Jamie decided to join. “Once I entered, I was all in and I never turned back,” he said.

After completing his first 60 days at the Shore, he transferred up to our Mission location in Morristown to complete the program. Through meetings with his counselor and classes like Relapse Prevention and Fatherhood/Manhood, he realized he no longer wanted to go back to his old life. “I’m past that,” he said. “I’m focused on bigger and better things that God has for me.”

Now, thanks to your prayers and support, Jamie has graduated our program and serves as a Mission intern. “It’s an honor to be in this position,” he said. “I love where I’m at today. I love what I’m doing. I continue to serve and help others because that’s what I was put here to do. When they feel their life is in a dark place, I’m here to shine some light on them and make them feel good about themselves.”

Looking forward, Jamie hopes to give his kids the best life possible, and he cannot thank God enough for all the ways he’s been blessed.

“I’m Jamie again,” he said with a smile. “I’m thankful to the Mission for saving my life and believing in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. I’m starting to get my joy back. I’m starting to be happy again. It’s a beautiful feeling.”

To read our Fall 2022 issue of The Lifeline, click here.