After 20 years of struggling with addiction and homelessness, Kevin’s newfound faith transformed his life. With help from the Mission, he is now in housing and, with Jesus by his side, is hopeful for his future.
Since the age of 14, Kevin has struggled with addiction. After a traumatic experience in his childhood, he turned to alcohol to cope with the pain. That later spiraled into consistent instability in housing and employment.
Kevin ended up getting arrested in 2002, and after being released from prison, he found himself with nothing—no place to live, and no job prospects—and falling back into his old patterns.
He lived with his grandmother until her passing in 2012 and spent the next 10 years experiencing some of the effects of homelessness— cold, hunger and loneliness.
While his days were spent struggling with alcoholism, his nights were spent sleeping on the streets with nothing but a sleeping bag, sleeping at friends’ houses for short periods of time or taking shelter at Fort Collins Rescue Mission.
“The worst feeling is not having a place to stay,” he said. “I would drink and, it’s sad to say, but that would help me get through the night. It was rough. It’s not something I got used to but accepted it and just had hope that it’s got to get better than this. That’s kind of what kept me going and wanting to succeed.”
Wanting to make a change and feeling like he had nowhere else to go, Kevin went to the Mission. He not only received a permanent bed and warm meals, but experienced fellowship, a community and the love of Jesus like he never had before.
It was there that he really read and understood the Bible for the first time. He got connected to a church, and the Mission held weekly Bible studies led by volunteers from local churches, which gave Kevin the space he needed to grow in his relationship with God.
“I learned a lot from the volunteers who do the Bible studies. I would come to every one,” he said. “It was a learning experience for me, and I really started to develop a relationship with Jesus. I started to realize what kind of a person He was and what kind of things He was doing for me.”
One of the Bible study leaders, Randy, is a recovered alcoholic and has experienced homelessness for a brief period in his own life. His own experience allowed him to connect with Kevin and the other shelter guests on a deeper level.
“I remind them that Jesus sat with sinners, that’s where He spent His time. And so, I would say, ‘You’re in good company because He’s more than happy to accept you as you are,’” Randy said. “I try to encourage them that having faith in God is a good place to start learning how to overcome those difficult situations in life.”
Kevin really appreciated the way Randy connected with him and offered to answer his questions even outside of their Bible studies.
“It’s so refreshing and rewarding when you come across a person like Kevin, who’s so willing to get a hold of the Bible,” Randy said. “And then when you see the success he’s had to elevate himself, through dedication and hard work, that is about as heartwarming a feeling as you can get.”
“It makes me want to do better for myself, and the Mission made that possible. It gave me structure and stability and made me realize I can do it.”
Housed and Hopeful
While living at the Mission, Kevin also found a job. The responsibility and meaningfulness of his work helped him stay away from drugs and alcohol and gave him the structure he needed. “My job kept me structurally sound, and it kept me on the right path of getting done what I needed to do,” he said.
Kevin was also able to get an ID, save money, quit smoking, and even start his own small group with some of the other men at the shelter.
This past fall, Kevin got into housing through his parole program and is thankful to have his own space that he is comfortable in. He attends church regularly and is considering going back to school.
“My faith keeps my spirits up and it keeps me headed in the right direction of decision-making,” he said. “My faith has grown so much that, regardless of the situation, I know that I’m going to be okay.”