The Light: March 2017

“This Has Got to Stop”

by Keith

After a lifetime of guilt, shame, and drug abuse, Keith needed to change. He needed forgiveness.

I’ve spent most of my life paralyzed by guilt and shame. I just could never forgive myself. How could anyone else?

One day, when I was growing up, my brother and I set a couple of fires. There’s no excuse for what we did. But shortly afterward, child services intervened. Me and my 13 siblings were taken from our home and split up — and it was all my fault. My entire family was torn apart because of what I did.

How does someone deal with something like that? I ended up turning to cocaine and heroin . . . for decades. I held steady jobs, but I spent all my money trying to numb my pain.

For me, life was like a big revolving door — in and out of jail, or off to work and then home again. I had two sons, but I was such a bad example, they both grew up and joined gangs.

I finally reached a point where I was sick and tired of living that life. It was 1 a.m. in a hotel room, and I just said, “This has got to stop.”

The next morning, I went to Atlanta Mission . . .

Ready to change

I was an addict, homeless, and spiritually bankrupt when I came here, but I was ready to change. I wanted to get back to God.

From day one, this place started to change me from the inside out. It was the start of my journey toward a complete spiritual transformation.

The first thing they taught me was how to establish a relationship with Jesus. But to do that, I had to repent and ask for forgiveness for everything I’d done. I could never forgive myself — but Jesus could. When that happened, everything changed — my thoughts, my attitudes, my behavior toward others, everything.

Transformation is a journey, but over time, I began to say, “Now I have a purpose. I have value. Let me put my best foot forward in everything.”

Now I’ve completed a life-changing program at Atlanta Mission, I’m living independently, and I have a full-time job. Better yet, my sons have seen me change dramatically, and they have both decided to give up gang life and become solid citizens with real jobs. That’s amazing to me.

Today, I’m a deacon-in-training at my church. I’m fully in pursuit of God. And I’m thankful to Atlanta Mission for that kind of transformation!

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. Thank you!

Where Are They Now?

How your support changed the lives of these Atlanta Mission alumni.

RM-17-03-4641-1-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Emily-Photo-280x260Emily didn’t care if she lived or died after all those years on the streets, addicted to drugs, in and out of jail, facing daily dangers and disappointments.

But at Atlanta Mission, she completely turned her life around. She found God, a job, and independent housing. But most of all, she reconnected with her family.

“I really wanted reconciliation with my family,” she says. “My mother and I had an estranged relationship for a long time because I was a terrible daughter, very selfish. But now we talk all the time. It’s amazing!

“I’ve also reconciled with my daughter, and we have a wonderful relationship. I also have a son, and I hope our relationship will be restored too. But I’m giving that to God and let Him work that out.”

Emily works full-time at Home Depot, where she is being groomed for a supervisor position. And she’s active in her church. “My life’s been transformed!”

*Emily was featured in our May 2016 newsletter

RM-17-03-4641-1-F02AT-Mar-eNewsletter-2017CAEONK-Blog-Story-2-280x260Heidi was a single mom of a baby girl when circumstances beyond her control left her homeless. Despite a college education and a solid job history, she was desperate.

At the time, she wondered, How did I end up like this? Am I being punished? A couple months at Atlanta Mission helped Heidi land back on her feet, find a good job, and a place for herself and daughter Emily, now 4.

In hindsight, Heidi realizes that she wasn’t being “punished,” but that God had her back the whole time. “There comes a time in every believer’s life where the rubber hits the road, where you can’t do it by yourself and you totally have to trust God. That was it for me.”

Since leaving four years ago, Heidi has learned to depend on God more each day. And life is good: She’s a key underwriter at a major insurance company and she’s buying a home. Heidi has also started her own company, Mommy & Me Toys, and plans a line of dolls called “Wonderfully Made.” She intends to donate some of the profits to homeless shelters.

*Heidi was featured in our June 2015 newsletter

RM-17-03-4641-1-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Justin-Photo-280x260Justin has described his past life with one word: “monster.” As a drug dealer and gangbanger he carried a gun — and wasn’t afraid to use it. He overdosed several times. He went to jail 26 times — all by his mid-20s.

He realized he was on a road to nowhere, so he went to Atlanta Mission to turn his life around, and it worked. He met God, repented, “and all my bad thoughts went away.”

He enrolled in a barber training program, and started giving free haircuts at Atlanta Mission to practice. He got pretty good at it, and now, a year and a half later, Justin is happily married and working as a professional barber in Norcross.

He says he often cuts the hair of people who are much like he once was. “These are people living the same dangerous life I used to. But I know them. I know what they’re facing, and they know where I came from. That’s why I like to think of the barber chair as my pulpit, and the barbershop as my church. It’s a place where I can give back, and where I can tell my story about how God and Atlanta Mission turned me around . . . I couldn’t be happier.”

*Justin was featured in our July 2015 newsletter

A Meal & So Much More

Transforming a life starts with $2.67

kidAt Atlanta Mission, a life-changing meal costs only $2.67. But our meals are more than good food — they also include dignity, compassion, hope, and the life-changing, unconditional love of God. In other words, the meals we serve are often the first step toward the kinds of transformation you read about in this newsletter.

The stories of transformation at Atlanta Mission are Easter stories: real death-to-life resurrection stories. And you can make more of those stories possible by supporting the Hunger to Hope campaign today.

To donate call 404-350-1301 or click here.

A Witness to Easter Miracles

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

It’s exciting to see “Easter stories” happening all across Atlanta Mission, lives changed by the power of Jesus.

In Luke 24:46-48, Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection, and speaks of forgiveness and how the gospel will spread to all the earth. Then He says,

“You are witnesses of these things.”

When you read the stories of transformation in this newsletter, I want you to remember that you are a witness of these things. God does the transforming, yes. But the actual work wouldn’t happen without your prayers and support . . . and that makes you a witness!

These are stories of people not physically dying but dying to themselves, turning from their past and living a life that has been transformed by the Savior — a life with new purpose, a life that now impacts family and friends too.

Witnessing a life lost but now found in Jesus continues to tell the story of Easter. My own life is just one of many changed by the power of these stories.

People often enter our doors with no hope; they’re spiritually dead. But thanks to your support, they are shown the love of Christ — first through food, clothing, and a place to sleep, and all along through care and compassion. It’s a hope-filled love rarely seen in the world today — and you are a witness to it!

May you and your family have a blessed Easter, and may you witness the love and power of Jesus all year long.

Blessings,

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO