“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.”
1 Chronicles 16:11
Gary’s identity used to be rooted in worldly things. When life took him through hardship, Gary’s life was transformed as he instead found his identity in Christ. Now, his faith is the thing that brings him joy and gives him hope for his future.
For Gary, music has been a central part of his family life and his story. “There was always music in my house. My mom called it more like rock and roll banging,” he said. “My background in music used to identify me. It doesn’t anymore.”
For years Gary traveled all over the country working in restaurants, playing music and using drugs. “In the early seventies I was a pot head. Whatever that means to you, quadruple it,” he said. “All day long, it was go to work, take a lunch break, smoke again, go back to work, and punch out at five. I lived that way for many years.”
Over time, drug use and time in prison wore on Gary, but God had a bigger plan for his life.
Eventually, Gary met a fellow musician who showed him the love of Jesus. He invited Gary to live with him under two conditions: Gary had to study the Bible with him and stop using drugs. Gary did just that, and from that time forward, his identity was no longer solely based on the music he played and drugs he used, but in Christ.
His newfound relationship with Jesus did not eliminate future struggles in Gary’s life. But through it all, one thing has stayed the same: “The joy of the Lord has been my strength.”
“Even though it broke me, it led me more to the cross.”Gary
Gary has not had permanent housing for the last 12 years, but God has provided shelter through places like Fort Collins Rescue Mission. God has healed him from past traumas and complicated relationships. And God has helped him realize that he is loved, and he is forgiven.
“God has blessed me in a lot of different ways,” Gary said. “Sometimes you’ll get a blessing, and you don’t know why—it just happens. I’m not saying I’m righteous, but I’m forgiven.” Often, blessings come out of hardship. For Gary, some of his biggest blessings have come out of his time experiencing homelessness and the faith-based support he has received at the Mission.
Staying at the Mission surrounded him with a community of believers. Through attending Bible studies with other guests and going to church services with some of the volunteers, Gary’s faith was strengthened.
“It’s helped me keep my faith strong and helped me love a little more,” he said. “I can’t survive without being around other believers. This place has done a lot for me, and these people have treated me very lovely.”
Standing firm in his faith, Gary can look toward the future with hope in his heart. With help from his case manager, he hopes to be in a place of his own in the coming months. But most of all, he is looking forward to the day he comes back to the Mission as a volunteer.
“I’m going to be here volunteering and helping the ones who helped me,” Gary said. “Because this place is worth it.”
Hope During the Holidays
For many experiencing homelessness, the holidays can be a reminder of severed relationships, causing feelings of loneliness, grief or depression. That’s why we find it so important every year to serve our guests at the Mission a traditional Christmas meal, with the hope that it will help them feel less alone.
“The holidays are very incredibly sorrowful. My birthday is three days after Christmas and the hardest part is just feeling very little love. But this year if I’m feeling down, I will most definitely go to the Christmas banquet at the Mission because it will cheer me up.”Gary