God’s Love Through An Earthquake and Pandemic
While I grew up with a fairly normal childhood, graduated college, and even played football at Weber State, I ended up walking into the Rescue Mission last June, asking for help with my alcohol addiction.
Since then, God has shown me some remarkable things. I have achieved sobriety, worked with homeless friends through the coronavirus situation, and survived an earthquake where part of the Mission was damaged.
I was helping to prepare breakfast in the Mission’s kitchen when the 5.7 earthquake hit Salt Lake on March 18, 2020. The kitchen is the lowest spot in the Mission, slightly below ground, and I remember thinking, “If this old building comes down, it’s all coming down on top of me.”
As the shaking stopped and I emerged up the steps through the outside door, I saw that part of the building next to the Mission had crumbled and there were piles of heavy bricks just to my left. I remember thinking that the sidewalk area where those bricks fell is often crowded with homeless people, waiting for the hot Rescue Mission breakfast. That morning, however, no one was there, and I wondered if God had made it that way for a reason.
Throughout my time at the Mission, I have wondered if I have seen God’s hand working to make things happen. It’s something I considered on the first day I came to the Mission. I had recently been evicted from an apartment after I found out my roommates, who I had been paying rent to, hadn’t been passing our rent on to our landlord.
After being evicted, I still had my job as a shift supervisor at a retail and grocery store near downtown. Since I had a job, I was able to put myself up a in downtown hotel that had an affordable monthly rate. But I was drinking daily and was overindulging more and more.
I have always struggled with daily drinking, but I convinced myself that as long as I was working and making money, my drinking didn’t really matter. If I was a functional alcoholic, everything was OK, I told myself. But living in a hotel, and working at a low paying job, while drinking all the more, it seemed inevitable that my life would unravel.
The morning I came to the Rescue Mission I had been hanging out at a coffee shop waiting for the liquor store to open. When the time came, I hopped on a bus headed for the liquor store, which was just one stop before the Rescue Mission. Since I lived downtown, I was familiar with the Rescue Mission and knew it had a program that could help the addicted. For some reason I didn’t get off at the liquor store like I had planned but kept riding.
I got off at the next stop, right in front of the Mission. I found myself, as if controlled by some outside force, walking into the Rescue Mission and asking for help. I haven’t left the Mission since.
I have learned a lot about God since that time. My community discipler and I have read through the C.S. Lewis book Mere Christianity, and my home church, Fresh Life, helps me learn more about who God is. I know I need to submit my life to God each day, if I am going to stay sober. Working through the New Life Program, with bible studies, chapel services, and one-on-one counseling has helped me achieve 10 months of sobriety now.
With all the progress I have made, the coronavirus and Salt Lake’s earthquake have impacted my growth on the New Life Program. Before the earthquake, we had just begun taking steps to protect against coronavirus at the Rescue Mission. We had set up hand-washing stations throughout the Mission. We were beginning to take temperatures as people entered the building, were asking medical questions, and were taking extra cleaning measures.
But after the earthquake, the Mission needed some repairs before it could be structurally safe. Thankfully Salt Lake County provided a place where members of the New Life Program and some of our homeless guests could stay. It’s at an old recreation center in South Jordan. While we don’t have a working kitchen at the rec center, many businesses such as Vegan Bowl, Chick-fil-A, McDonalds, Village Inn, and R&R Barbeque have shared food with us. The three meals per day for program members and guests alike must be catered in.
At the same time all the earthquake and virus circumstances happened, it was the time when I was moving to the employment phase of the New Life Program. I had just updated my resume with Steve Spiess, the Mission’s job placement coordinator, and was ready to start working.
Before the virus, the economy was going well and it seemed like it would be easy to find a job. Now, with most of my experience in retail or restaurant service, I am worried about finding employment. Because of government directives to stay at home when possible, I haven’t gone out and looked for work yet. I will need to trust that God will guide my steps in employment, even as He seemingly has by leading me to the Rescue Mission and protecting me through coronavirus and the earthquake.
Please pray for me (and many others like me who may need jobs soon) that I would trust God to find the right employment for me. I know the main thing I need is God’s continued help to stay sober, so please pray for my continued sobriety. While I know I can continue to learn more about God, I do feel like He has guided me in some important ways up to this point. Pray that my faith stays strong and that God continues to help me.