Testimony of the Month
My name is Eugene Peay and for most of the last decade I have been addicted to alcohol and cocaine, living on the streets of Salt Lake when not in jail.
My life didn’t start out on the streets. I was raised by good parents in South Carolina. They took me to church and encouraged me to live right. When I was eight years old, we moved to the country and I started playing sports. I was on the basketball, football and track teams by the time I reached high school.
An All-American Falls
It seemed like I would be an all-American kid. But as my friends and I became popular jocks, we turned to bad behavior. Our focus became girls and partying. Soon we were skipping classes, and by the time I was 17, I had quit high school and was smoking marijuana every day.
My parents told me that I couldn’t live with them if I wasn’t going to go back to school, so I moved in with my grandmother. Later, my mother approached me and said she cared for me and wanted me to have a future. She told me about a Job Corp facility in Georgia that could help me get job training and my diploma. I did well in Job Corp and eventually transferred to the Job Corp site in Clearfield, Utah, where they had more advanced auto mechanic training. When I graduated from the Job Corp with my high school diploma, I went to work in the automotive shop at a local Sears store.
Even though I was smoking marijuana every day, my life was going well and I met a girl. She soon got pregnant and we decided get married and move back to South Carolina. We moved in with my parents, trying to build a stronger future. We had a good marriage and another baby, a girl to go with our first-born son. But after five years of marriage, we started fighting. We would fight over little things, things that didn’t really even matter. Our fighting grew so bad that my wife took our kids and moved back to Salt Lake to live with her parents.
While she was gone, I started a relationship with another woman. After a while, my wife and I started to work things out, but I kept seeing this other woman and didn’t tell my wife about it. Eventually, my wife moved back to South Carolina to live with me. I would go out and sleep around with this other woman and then come home and spend time with my wife and children.
Leaving My Wife and Kids
The other woman eventually convinced me to leave my wife for her. I went home and told my wife that our marriage wasn’t working out and that we should end it. I never told her I was cheating on her.
I moved in with the other woman and we had a son together. Our relationship was good for a while and my family even started to accept her, even though we weren’t married. But again, after about five years together our relationship started to deteriorate. We broke up and I decided to move up to Charlotte, North Carolina to live with my uncle.
I got a job as a welder and did alright for a while, even though I continued to get high every day. I started going out to clubs and was drinking a lot. When I came home drunk one night, my uncle told me I needed to find somewhere else to live. I moved to an apartment in a bad neighborhood. Already nursing a marijuana and alcohol habit, I started smoking cocaine too. My life spiraled downwards. While I was smoking marijuana, I had always been able to have good jobs and support myself. But once I started using cocaine, I found that I couldn’t hold down a job and was always begging my family for money.
Extradited to Utah
In 2002, I went to counseling and was able to quit using cocaine. My life began to stabilize a little and I met another girl. We got married, moved back down to South Carolina and had a daughter together. Even though I had quit using cocaine, I was still drinking heavily, which led to many fights between my new wife and I. One of the fights turned physical and I was arrested for domestic violence. I went to jail, but right as I was about to be released, the jail was notified that I had a warrant out for my arrest in Utah. Apparently, my first wife had filed for child support payments when I had been in the throes of my cocaine addiction. I had never paid any child support to her and it had accumulated so high that the judge had issued a warrant for my arrest.
I was extradited to Utah and spent three weeks in jail. I called my wife back in South Carolina and told her what had happened. That was the last time I would talk to her for the next 10 years, except when she needed my address to send the divorce papers. When I was released from jail on the child support charge, I had nowhere to go, so I went and stayed at the public housing shelter downtown. Before ordering my release, the judge had told me to get a job so I could pay my bills. I followed his advice and soon was welding again. But since I was living at the shelter, I was exposed to drugs all the time, so I turned back to cocaine. While my job paid me $1,000 a week, my money evaporated almost as soon as I got paid. I would spend it on cocaine and then would get so high, that I would give it away to people, buy drugs for others or just get it stolen from me. Once, I went through an entire $1,000 paycheck in three hours. For the next nine years, from 2004 to 2012, my life grew worse and worse. I was living on the street, in shelters and was constantly in and out of jail for drug possession and theft.
I saw it all on the street: people getting stabbed, people being hit in the head with bricks, people getting robbed and worse. When I turned 40 in 2012, it made me look back on my life. I had wasted it. I had been through two marriages, had four children with three different women and was living as a homeless person addicted to cocaine and alcohol. It was hard for me to even know why I was so addicted. My parents had been good to me, loved me and cared for me. It seemed the only person I had to blame was me. I needed someone to help me, someone to save me from myself.
The one place that had shown me love and brought me some peace over the years had been the Rescue Mission. I had eaten there many times and stayed the night there on occasion, but had never thought of using the resources they had to help people get off the streets. So in January of 2013, I walked into the Rescue Mission and told House Manager Don Hill that I needed help. I needed to get sober and I couldn’t do it on my own. Don had compassion on me and enrolled me in the Mission’s New Life Program.
The Rescue Mission helped me to reconnect with God, whom I had been ignoring for most of my life. In fact, I felt like I had destroyed my relationship with God. But at the Rescue Mission I learned that God was able and willing to forgive even the worst sinners. I learned that having a true relationship with God would change life my life.
I began attending Central Christian Church and learned more about God. While I felt like I have always believed in God, it was only through the New Life Program that I began to realize how important it was for me to have a real relationship with Jesus.
In September I graduated to the job phase of the New Life Program and started working at a nutritional supplement company. I work in the production plant, ensuring that our automated bottling system is stocked with supplies and the supplements needed to fill the orders we get from around the world. I am hoping that with a little more on-the-job training I can become a machine operator.
My legal history is so extensive that I am still on probation from the numerous drug-related charges I incurred while on the streets for the past decade. But my probation officer is impressed with my progress and is pushing for me to be released from probation early next month.
Today I have been clean and sober for 14 months. I couldn’t have done it without God’s help. As I prepare to graduate from the New Life Program and come off of probation next month, I have many decisions to make and would love your prayers. My family has invited me to come back to South Carolina to live with them. I am trying to decide if I should go or stay here in Utah where I have a good job, some good friends and a support group.
Also, my heart still aches for my children. I have been a terrible father to them and would like to rebuild my relationships with them. My oldest son and daughter both have college soccer scholarships, my son at a university in Washington and my daughter at a university in New Mexico. I watch videos of them playing soccer that are posted on the internet and have reached out to them, but haven’t heard any response. My youngest daughter is only 12 and I would love to reconnect with her, but her mother, with good reason, does not want to speak to me. So while these situations seem impossible, I know that with God all things are possible and so I ask for your prayers.
I want to thank all of you who support the Rescue Mission. If the New Life Program didn’t exist, I would probably be dead right now. Thank you and praise God for sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to forgive even the worst of sinners, like me, and for putting a place like the Rescue Mission in Salt Lake City.
To learn more about what is happening at the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake in February, check out our monthly newsletter, The Rescuer: