When Christopher was young, his mother was an alcoholic. Her drinking caused problems in the family, and one day, Christopher’s father decided he couldn’t continue living this way. His parents got divorced, and that left Christopher and his mother on their own.
It was hard for him to handle it all as a child, but he never shared his struggles and feelings with anyone. “I could never bring anybody home to my house because I’d never know what shape she’d be in,” he said. “But it made me a stronger person because I had to take care of her and myself.”
Christopher and his mother soon moved to a new town, which made everything more difficult. They didn’t have much money and the kids Christopher’s age bullied him for it, which made him feel like an outsider. Around this time, his grandfather, who had been his only positive role model, passed away, leaving Christopher with no good examples to follow.
The friends he found were bad influences on him, and he began smoking marijuana as a young teenager. It became an escape from the chaos of his life.
Despite the early drug use, Christopher still promised himself he would never become an alcoholic like his mother. But because he was constantly exposed to her drinking habits, by the age of 20 he found himself addicted to alcohol as well, and his life spiraled downward.
In 2017, after getting out of prison, he ended up with nowhere to go. He planned to live with his fiancée, but she told him he couldn’t stay. Instead, she took him to the Mission. He stayed for 35 days in our overnight shelter, but after that he left and fell back into his old patterns of life.
When he left the Mission, he got married and moved with his wife to Florida. But their relationship failed before long, and she threw him out. He then found himself in the same position as before: no place to go, and no one to help.
“It’s a terrible thing when you can’t call somebody and ask them for help,” he said. “Because I was an addict, I burned all my bridges. It’s a terrible feeling being lonely like that.”
When he reached this rock bottom, he knew what he needed to do: come back to the Mission for help. A friend bought him a plane ticket and he flew back to New York, but when he got to the train station, he had no money left. The conductor decided to bless him and pay for his ride to Long Branch, and he walked to the Mission from there.
“As soon as I got here, it was like a hug with open arms,” he said. The camaraderie and family atmosphere he found in our program began softening his heart and drawing him nearer to God right away.
Through Christian guidance, fellowship, and instruction, Christopher has developed a stronger sense of self-esteem. He has also learned to forgive himself for his past mistakes because of the forgiveness he found in Christ.
“I am thankful to the Mission because they gave me an opportunity to come back to God and reconnect with Jesus when I ended up pushing away for so many years,” he said. “I was afraid to turn to God because I felt too ashamed to ask for help. I never knew that I could just come back and be forgiven, but I learned that it’s simple as that.”
Through your prayers and support, Christopher graduated from our program, and looks back on that celebration as one of the best days of his life. Now, he enjoys spending time with his grandson, and he also serves as an intern with the Mission. It is fulfilling for him to learn how to help our overnight guests receive the care they need. He has seen how God can completely change lives for the better, and he wants to share that hope with everyone who comes through the Mission doors.
“This place is amazing. They do beautiful things for people,” he said. “They really love you – it’s like a family here. It’s a beautiful community because everybody here is my brother. This is God’s work here.”
To read our Summer 2022 issue of The Lifeline, click here.