Testimony of the Month
My name is Wes Moore and before I joined the Rescue Mission’s New Life Program, I was homeless for seven years as I struggled with meth and cocaine addiction.
But when I joined the New Life Program, God started to change me. Today, if you want to talk to me, I want at least some of that conversation to be about the Bible. It’s been through the Bible studies here at the Rescue Mission that I really began to understand God. For me, the only way I know what I am doing, or should be doing, is from the Bible. I don’t always follow Jesus perfectly, but I now know that I can go to God and ask for forgiveness and He is there, ready to forgive and help me do better.
Connecting with Other People
Without the Rescue Mission and the way it taught me about God, I would probably still be on the streets. One of the best things the Mission did was give me a counselor I could relate to. I was one of the first clients for Cassie Warner, the first female counselor for men in the New Life Program. God couldn’t have given me a better fit.
I grew up with eight girls in my family, and throughout my life I have had a hard time talking to men about deeply personal things. I guess I just feel more comfortable talking to women. So for me, Cassie was a blessing. There are things I have told her that I am not going to tell anyone else. She makes it easy to share things that happened to me that I wouldn’t share in this newsletter or even with other staff members of the Rescue Mission.
Being able to talk about my life and my experiences has been critical for me. Just talking has healed many emotional scars that I had previously used drugs to cover up. And I have found that by sharing with Cassie, I have grown and opened up to other people as well.
Each week at the Rescue Mission I attend group sharing sessions. These group discussions are important because all the men in the New Life Program get to talk about what they are struggling with and what is bothering them. Often, these “getting-it-off-your-chest” sessions can alleviate stress and take away some of the desire to use drugs.
These sessions have meant a lot to me, even as I have learned to express myself honestly in front of a group of people. They gave me room to talk about the things that were bothering me. Sometimes people on the street bothered me, sometimes it was a conflict with someone in the New Life Program and sometimes it was just a painful memory. When I got them out, I found it made me happy to share my struggles and angers. It made me feel like I was telling the truth. I was no longer keeping secrets inside and could share what was really on my mind in a loving way, instead of using drugs to avoid problems.
Using Drugs to Cover My Feelings
Throughout my life, I have usually turned to drugs to escape. I began using drugs when I was 14 and starting high school at the old South High on State Street. I started using drugs to have fun, but quickly drugs became a way to escape the bad memories of the past.
By the time I was an adult, I had graduated to drugs like crank and cocaine. Despite my addiction, I had learned to play the bass guitar and joined a band. We often played small venues like clubs and bars, and those events often led to relationships with women. One of these relationships, although it was very brief, led to my only son being born.
My relationship with the woman was so short that I didn’t even know she had my son until ten years later. I kept using drugs off and on, going through some times of heavy usage, while other times I was able to cut back.
Many times I ended up in jail for drug-related crimes. Once, in my 30s, I got into a fight in jail. I don’t remember a lot of the details, but I was beaten bad and suffered severe head damage. I was hospitalized and never recovered completely. Today I still suffer from some memory loss. After I was released from the hospital, I finished my time in jail. When I got out, life was hard for me. I started using drugs more and more. Drugs seemed to make my memory and cognitive issues go away, at least for a little while.
Homelessness and Death
Eventually, my drug use got so bad that my life spiraled out of control. I was evicted from my apartment for selling drugs and became homeless for the first time at age 53. I spent the next seven years living on streets. It was hard, but it was my own fault. I just couldn’t stop using drugs. I have seen people die of their addiction on the streets. The worst thing was looking at someone who was sick from drugs, realizing they would be dead soon and then, a few days later, finding out they had died on the streets. It got to the point where I was able to predict, with good accuracy, who would be the next street person to die – just by looking at them. It was very creepy.
Finally, after seeing so much death, pain and suffering, I decided I needed help. I walked into the Rescue Mission in October of 2013 and joined the New Life Recovery program. Since that day, God has changed my life. The New Life Program gave me a focus I have never had before. I was given a work therapy job at the Mission. I started out washing dishes in the kitchen, but after a month, I was asked to run the clothing room in the dorm. Running the clothing room was important to me. Every week I would receive hundreds of items of clothing, make sure they were clean and then stock them on our clothing shelves.
I was able to give those clothes out to all the homeless people that came through our doors. It brought me great joy to give out shoes, warm coats, fresh underwear and socks to the people – many of whom I used to know from the streets. It helped me to be able to help others, and is one of the things I have enjoyed most about the Rescue Mission. We help people by giving them things that they actually need, like food, clothing and shelter.
A New Lease on Life
Since being at the Rescue Mission, I have connected with a couple of different local churches – Calvary Baptist and K2 The Church – and the friends I met there have helped me to stay sober for this past year. Also, my community mentor, T.J., meets with me once a week and to help me learn more about the Bible and talk with me about the things I am struggling with.
One of the things that I am still working on is relating to people. When I was a drug user, I was often mean and treated people poorly. It caused a lot of people to be afraid of me. But even now, as a sober person with what I believe is a gentle personality, I still feel that people look at me and feel scared. For whatever reason, I just have sort of a scary look about me and it causes people to look away or shy away from me. So I am working on accepting that people might not like the look of me, and that I need to take the initiative to introduce myself and make friends.
At 61 years old, I still feel like my whole life is in front of me. I am currently looking for a job. I just want a basic job, like a janitor or something, where I can work and support myself. I know it sounds weird, but at 61, I also really want to get married. I believe that having a wife would help me in so many ways. I need someone to go through life with and understand it like I do. Someone I can meet on common ground.
I am now in contact with my son, who lives in Ogden. He has a son – my grandson – and it is awesome to have a family to visit when I go up to their house. God has blessed me by helping me rebuild a relationship with my son.
When I get a job and save up some money, I plan to get an apartment. I look forward to having my own place where I can play my bass and lay my head. I really enjoy music and feel blessed to be able to play. Please pray that I would stay sober, especially after I leave the New Life Recovery Program. And pray that God would provide for my needs as I continue to try and live for Him.
To learn more about what is happening at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in January, check out our monthly newsletter, The Rescuer:
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