Kevin’s Story of Transformation

The way Kevin sees it, God wanted him at Atlanta Mission . . . someday. It just took almost 40 years to get there.

Kevin’s difficult journey began in infancy, when his father left. It got worse when he was about 7, when a babysitter began abusing him and his brother. The abuse continued for years, and when the boys were teens, they both dove into drugs to mask their shame and pain.

Kevin continued using and abusing — mostly marijuana and cocaine — for decades. Along the way, he had four children and he held a steady job. “I was a functioning addict,” he says. “I worked hard because I love my kids.”

When his youngest graduated from high school in 2013, he became tired of his drug abuse and burying his pain, so he decided to make some changes in his life. He lived in Miami, but had heard good things about Atlanta Mission, so he moved here for a fresh start. But when he showed up for help, he was high, and was told to come back another day.

He waited two years.

He met a young woman and fell hard in love . . . and back into drugs, “right back into my old ways,” he says. For almost two years.

Finally, in late 2015, Kevin decided he’d had enough with being a drug addict, and he knocked on Atlanta Mission’s door.

“I was led to come here,” he says. “I just took the long way.”

Tears of Joy

Kevin starts crying as he talks about how God, through the people at Atlanta Mission, transformed his life.

“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he says through tears. “Atlanta Mission saved my life.”

He says that when he was turned away that first time, he thought he’d blown it forever. “But they gave me another chance when I didn’t think I had one.” The tears keep falling.

“This is not a sorrowful cry,” he says. “This is a good cry.” Kevin now has a full-time job as a carpenter, which is kind of fitting, since he wants to tell people about another Carpenter — Jesus. He wants to be a pastor, and hopes to attend seminary someday soon.

“I just want to help other people the way I’ve been helped,” he says. “I’ve been made new, and I want to help others find the same thing.”

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

Marica’s Story of Transformation

It’s hard to believe anyone could survive the things Marica has been through . . . physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Beaten and abused, broken and bruised, crushed every which way till her body and soul were almost shattered beyond repair.

But today, thanks to your support, Marica now knows the true joy, grace, and good news of Christmas . . .

Marica’s story began in early childhood when she was sexually abused, a pattern that continued through her teens. Rather than protect her, Marica’s mother blamed Marica for the abuse.

“My mom said she was a Christian,” Marica remembers. “I thought I had grown up in a Christian home. I was like, If this is Christianity, I don’t want any part of it.

At 18, Marica left home and joined another religion, which at first brought her some peace. But her past trauma haunted her, and she turned to drugs to numb her pain. There were a few relationships, all of them abusive. She was in and out of domestic violence shelters.

“I was always terrified,” she says. “But I just kept praying that God would take me out of those situations.”

Marica finally did leave her abuser, but ended up homeless. She soon met another man, got pregnant, and found herself completely alone . . . and scared.

Someone suggested Atlanta Mission. When she learned it was a Christian ministry, Marica resisted because of her old misconceptions about Christianity. But with nowhere
else to turn, she went anyway.

“And they welcomed me with open arms,” Marica says. “They didn’t judge me. They just loved me.”

Marica gave birth to a girl named Savannah. A few months later, she decided to embrace Christianity. Now she’s excited about what she calls her first Christmas as a true follower of Jesus, and she even has her own new apartment.

“The love shown to me last Christmas at Atlanta Mission makes me excited for this first Christmas as a follower of Christ,” says Marica. “Lots of parties, lots of joy. Now that I know the reason for all of that joy, this should be my best Christmas ever!”

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

Clay’s Story of Transformation

by: Clay

“The way I see it, serving meals is a ministry to people who are in need.”

Thanksgiving might still be a couple months away, but I’m already thinking about it. After all, it’s my job.

As one of the head chefs at Atlanta Mission — I oversee the kitchen at The Shepherd’s Inn, our downtown men’s facility — I am responsible for all those ingredients, and for preparing tens of thousands of meals between now and Thanksgiving Day.

And I absolutely love my job. The way I see it, serving meals is a ministry to people who are in need. I get to rub shoulders with everybody in that cafeteria, including a lot of guys who are really hurting. I’ll start a conversation, encourage them, and maybe it’ll be the first step toward turning their lives around.

But for God’s grace, it could be any of us in that food line, even me. Not so long ago, it was me . . .

I threw it all away

I grew up in a good home, but as a high school sports star, I got spoiled. I could have just about anything I wanted. I started smoking pot, and by the time I got to college — on an athletic scholarship — I was regularly using cocaine. I barely got by, and ended up throwing it all away — my education and my sports career — by dropping out.

I continued my drug habit and got busted a couple times. I got married and settled down a little, but I never kicked my coke habit. My wife and I ended up having eight children, but eventually, my addictions and poor decisions destroyed my family.

I checked into a Mission in Nashville and got clean . . . for seven years! I even became their head chef. But then I stopped going to church and I fell back into my old ways.

When I decided to get help again, someone recommended Atlanta Mission, so I came down here in 2009. I checked into The Potter’s House — our North Georgia campus for men in addiction recovery — and cleaned up.

106 letters of apology

Part of the process was to write letters to everyone I had wronged in the past, to confess and ask for forgiveness. I ended up writing 106 letters! And the hardest one was to my estranged wife. We’re still on speaking terms, and I’m restoring my relationship with my kids. I even have six grandchildren now!

I’m so grateful for Atlanta Mission. God redeemed my life here, and they helped me get back on my feet. And nowadays, I’m on my feet a lot in the kitchen . . . getting ready for Thanksgiving!

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thanks for giving during this holiday season!

Kim & Clyde’s Story of Transformation

Up from the Ashes

“Mommy and Daddy are the paper,” said 9-year-old Tyshaun, “but I’m the glue. I’m going to hold this family together.”

Tyshaun was just 9 years old when she and her mom and sister had to sleep on the streets.

“It was scary,” she remembers.

Tyshaun’s father, Clyde, had just gone to jail for forgery. Her mother, Kim, had just been released, after serving time for writing bad checks. Both parents struggled with alcoholism, and the family had lost their home.

With no place to turn, Kim, Tyshaun, and older daughter Danielle (14) lived on the streets for about a week. But things were about to get better . . .

A cruel upbringing

Kim’s childhood was brutal. Her father was a drug dealer, her mother was mentally ill, and both were abusive. “Constant violence,” Kim says. “I had to learn the streets pretty quick.”

She drank heavily as a teen and young adult, but quit when she was about 30. She got married, had kids, stayed sober for 14 years, and became an executive chef. Life was good — at work, at home, and in the family.

But when she lost her job, Kim relapsed hard. Then Clyde relapsed. Facing poverty, both turned to petty crime to make ends meet, both got caught, and both did time. The kids ended up with Children’s Services for a couple of months before being returned to their mother.

Kim had heard about Atlanta Mission, and she and the girls ended up at My Sister’s House, Atlanta Mission’s home for women and children.

Kim went through addiction recovery, intense counseling, and parenting classes. Then she was hired as a cook at My Sister’s House. Danielle and Tyshaun started making friends.

When Clyde was released from jail, he went to Atlanta Mission and turned his life around. Today, the family is reunited and living together in an Atlanta apartment complex.

The family “glue”

When Kim was at her lowest, hung over and in bed, Tyshaun said, “Mommy, God knew you were going to relapse. That’s why he gave y’all me. You and Daddy are the paper, but I’m the glue. I’m going to hold this family together.”

“It was like hearing the words of an old soul,” Kim says today.

Now that the family’s intact again, Tyshaun says she’ll never forget how Atlanta Mission helped them.“They took care of us,” she says. “I’m happy they were part of my life.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Larry’s Story of Transformation

In the Valley of Dry Bones

“It was God’s way of getting my attention. Had I recovered quickly, I would’ve gone back to the streets and my self-destructive ways.” — By Larry

I lived on the streets for about 16 years . . . that is, if you can call it “living.” Mostly, I was just wandering from place to place, looking for drugs and booze, a bite to eat, and a place to sleep in peace.

I saw people get beaten and robbed. I saw people die — of overdoses, from violence, and from exposure to the elements. It was hard, but I also became hardened to it. When you live on the streets, you forget what real life is like. You forget what you lost.

It’s like Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones. You look at people on the streets, and there’s just no life there. All they’ve ever had is dead and gone.

But it was the only life I knew. I figured I’d probably die on the streets, too. But like Ezekiel’s dry bones, I was destined for new life . . . but not until after I got run over by a truck.

God slowed me down

It was August 29, 2011. I had a part-time job, and I had worked all night long. I was dead tired, and I fell asleep in a parking lot. Next thing I knew, a truck was driving over me. My leg got caught up in the drive shaft, and I could hear my bones cracking . . . then my ribs . . . then my skull.

I spent the next six months at Grady Hospital. My heart had been crushed, so they put me in an induced coma so it could heal. I later learned that my leg had been broken in six places, my hip in four places, my ribs in three places, my shoulders were dislocated, and my skull was cracked.

It’s a miracle that I didn’t die.

I was in the hospital and physical therapy for almost two years. I think it was God’s way of slowing me down and getting my attention. Had I recovered quickly, I would’ve gone back to the streets and my self-destructive ways.

I asked God to help turn my life around, and someone suggested Atlanta Mission. So I went, and things started looking up. It became sort of the command center for my life — physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Atlanta Mission taught me to fully rely on God, who promises to supply all our needs. He certainly put all the right people in place to help me — the doctors and nurses who put me back together, the people at Atlanta Mission who have helped me grow in the Lord. My faith has been reaffirmed. I connect with God every day.

Like Ezekiel’s dry bones, I came back to life, thanks to Atlanta Mission. And thanks to you and your support. Thank you!

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Shaquella’s Story of Transformation

A Hard Life

I was basically homeless for 20 years, moving from the streets to a relative’s couch to a friend’s floor. I’ve never stayed in any one place for long.

I think I’ve stayed in over a hundred places over the years, in all sorts of conditions. I’ve had to sleep outdoors in extreme heat, and in the bitter cold.

This journey started when I was growing up in Memphis. My dad was never in the picture, and my mama was real mean; she’d whip me for almost anything. So I stayed at my grandma’s house as often as I could. She was the only person in my family who ever showed love toward me.

I often acted out in anger, and got in a lot of fights. I was in and out of juvenile detention, and as an adult, in and out of jail. I struggled with drugs, especially weed and taking pills.

Finally, about a year ago, I decided I wanted to turn my life around — not just for me, but for my daughter Natasha too. It was no way for a family to live. I planned to move away from Memphis and just start over. A friend recommended Atlanta Mission.

Right when I was having these thoughts, a person that I thought was a friend stole every penny I had — more than $3,000. I was going to buy a car with that money. So when that happened, it was like the last straw. I scraped up enough for two bus tickets to Atlanta.

It’s the best move I’ve ever made.

I spent almost a year at Atlanta Mission. That’s the longest that Natasha and I have ever stayed in one place. I went through their programs, and learned that my anger was really just my way of crying out for attention, for love. The people at Atlanta Mission really care about you, about helping you in real life.

Now I’ve got a job, and we have our own apartment. I’m going to get my GED, and then go to school to become a barber.

For the first time in my life, I’m happy and content. And thanks to your support of Atlanta Mission, our little family — Natasha and me — is stable and full of hope.

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Emily’s Story of Transformation

“I Was on the Brink of Death”

It wasn’t all that long ago that I didn’t care if I lived or died.

I grew up in a difficult home, with lots of dysfunction. Later, I turned to alcohol and cocaine to cope with the pain . . . and I remained addicted for decades. When I started doing crack in 2004, things really spiraled downhill.

I ended up homeless, living under a bridge. I never felt safe. It’s dangerous for a single woman on the streets. I went days without eating or drinking. I was often dehydrated, and sometimes had hallucinations. In winter, I feared I’d freeze to death. And I ruined relationships with my family, including my two kids.

Things went from bad to worse. I’d rather not get into the details, but just suffice it to say that I got arrested, and my mug shot shows how awful things were. I was down to 90 pounds, and I looked like I was on the brink of death.

Because I was.

When you hit rock bottom like that, you tend to take stock of your life. I decided to get help. And I knew exactly where to go.

Finding Home

I had heard good things about My Sister’s House at Atlanta Mission, which helps women and children get back on their feet.

I got here in January 2015. When the counselor said they had a bed for me, I broke down in tears. Because I knew I’d found my way home.

I went to church as a child, but had ignored God for a long time. Atlanta Mission helped me reconnect with my faith. Now I read my Bible and pray all the time.

I’m not ashamed of myself anymore, because I’m not the same person I was before. I’m a completely different human being now. I am literally a new creation in Christ. I even got my smile back, as Atlanta Mission helped me get the dental work I needed.

Now I’m working two jobs, and I’m saving money to move into a place of my own. And God is restoring relationships with my family. I couldn’t be happier.

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Justin’s Story of Transformation

Please God, Just One More Chance

When I smoked my first joint at 13, I didn’t realize that what I really wanted was attention, to feel like I belonged.

When I turned to heavier drugs, I had no idea that I was careening down a dangerous road that would almost kill me several times.

When I survived two brutal car wrecks and three overdoses, I couldn’t see that God clearly wanted me alive, and that He had a plan for me.

Though I grew up in a loving home, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I made poor choices to fill the void — hanging out with the wrong crowd, doing drugs and alcohol. I ended up losing my job, and I ruined my relationship with my parents and with a girlfriend. I numbed my pain with more drugs. It was a vicious cycle. A car accident that crushed my legs should have served as a wake-up call, but it didn’t. Ironically, it only deepened my dependence on pain pills.

Then I overdosed three times in six months. I wasn’t intentionally trying to kill myself, but I didn’t really care if I died, either. But the third time, I remember saying, “Please, God, just give me one more chance.”

He did. And for the first time, I admitted that I needed help. A counselor recommended The Potter’s House — one of Atlanta Mission’s long-term addiction recovery programs. I signed up right away.

They welcomed me with open arms. I finally found what I’d been looking for my whole life — love and acceptance. I belonged.

Two months later, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. By then, my relationship with him had been restored, because he knew my heart had changed, and he had seen me sober for the first time in more than a decade. When he died a few months later, he was at peace because I had turned my life around.

Atlanta Mission and The Potter’s House literally saved my life. I’ve learned how to deal with hard times without drugs. I have a full-time job. I am involved in my church, where I teach a children’s Sunday school class. I just bought a car, and I will soon be living independently.

Atlanta Mission connected me to my Heavenly father, which gave me the chance to reconnect to my own father. I owe God all the glory.

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Shamika’s Story of Transformation

Would They Spend Christmas on the Streets?

Shamika was desperate. She had lost her job and had been evicted from her apartment . . . along with her 2-year-old daughter, Shaniyah.

“I was in a terrible situation,” Shamika says. “I was crying constantly. I was depressed. It was hard, real hard.”

With the holidays fast approaching and no family to help, Shamika worried that she and Shaniyah would have to spend Christmas on the streets of Atlanta.
“I didn’t see any way out,” she says.

But before she and her baby spent one night on the streets, she found a way . . . at Atlanta Mission. Shamika and Shaniyah were welcomed with open arms at My Sister’s House, our facility for women and children.

“It was such a blessing,” Shamika says.

The end of a long, hard road.

Arriving at Atlanta Mission was the beginning of the end of a long, hard road for Shamika. Before coming here she had struggled to find work. “Everywhere I went, they weren’t hiring,” she says. “Or, when I had interviews, I didn’t get the job.”

Our caring staff was able to help Shamika land a good job. And at My Sister’s House, she and Shaniyah found a family atmosphere where they felt loved and encouraged. “It’s so inspiring,” she says, with tears in her eyes. “It’s positive all around. I love it here.”

Last Christmas, she says, “was really nice. Shaniyah got some gifts, and everyone was kind. That’s all that mattered.”

Shamika and Shaniyah recently moved out to their own place. They’re excited to celebrate the holidays in their own home this year, but Shamika says she’ll always remember the gift of love last Christmas from the staff and volunteers at My Sister’s House.

“They were wonderful,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Atlanta Mission, I don’t know what would have happened. They got me back on my feet.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Tremaine’s Story of Transformation

“I Ran From My Feelings”

When people hit rock bottom, they often cry out to God, pleading, “Show me a sign!” That happened to Tremaine a year ago. And God showed him one — literally.

Tired of battling his addictions and emotional pain, Tremaine decided to check out Atlanta Mission one night. At dinner, he looked up and saw the sign on the wall.

It was a picture of a burly guy, with this blurb underneath: Overcoming addiction. Rebuilding his life with the help of Atlanta Mission’s long-term residential recovery program.

“That was it,” Tremaine says today. “I felt like God was saying, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.’”Tremaine

It was a long journey to get here . . .

“A big lie all along”

As a child, Tremaine couldn’t figure out why his dad always ignored him. At 18, he learned the truth: The man was not his father. His biological dad, an alcoholic, left while Tremaine’s mom was pregnant. She settled with another man, whom she told Tremaine was his father.

“It was this big lie all along,” Tremaine says. “It messed me up. I had a lot of resentment, but I ran from my feelings. I turned to drugs, and I hung with the wrong crowd because I wanted a family.”

Tremaine was shot in a drive-by shooting. The bullet went through his leg and he recovered, but he knows it could’ve gone through his head or his heart.

He was more careful after that, but kept partying. His drug addictions were out of control. About a year ago, he realized he was “lost and hopeless.” Then a friend pointed him to Atlanta Mission . . .
“Why God put me here”

After getting that “sign,” Tremaine soon had another reason to go clean: Atlanta Mission needed help in the kitchen, and Tremaine, a culinary school graduate, loved to cook.

“That comes from my grandmother,” he says, “seeing her cook for our family, and how it brought everyone together.” Tremaine thrived in the kitchen: “It was like God said, ‘You still get to do what you love to do, even while you get the help you need.’”

Cooking and serving last year’s Thanksgiving meal was one of his biggest thrills. He hopes to do it again this year — this time as a volunteer. Tremaine has graduated from Atlanta Mission, and now has a full-time job as a chef in a local hotel. “I love cooking for people,” he says. “It’s why God put me here.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Veronica’s Story of Transformation

transformed-veronica

“I want to tell donors, ‘Thank God for you!”

Your support of Atlanta Mission is helping Veronica leave addiction behind

Veronica was in jail, worrying about her two children, wondering where they would go after she got out. And that’s when a young lady shared that she knew of a wonderful place that would help Veronica and her family—Atlanta Mission. “Right then, I knew that’s where God was sending me,” Veronica says.

Addiction had been dogging Veronica for decades, and she knew it had to stop. “I used to have a drug addiction which God cured me from instantaneously. Fifteen years ago, I just stopped. Unfortunately, I picked up alcohol, which is what brought me to the Mission. I have been a functioning alcoholic for about five years now, but I couldn’t stop drinking and driving. I came here voluntarily because I knew that I couldn’t stop drinking as easily as I stopped drugs.”

“My children have been through a lot with me and my addiction. I agonized over whether to bring them with me or not—but I felt coming to the program with them would help heal our family.

And it’s working. They didn’t know what to expect, but Atlanta Mission staff helped get them in school and assisted me with getting school supplies and backpacks.”

“I know that my being here would not be possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of people’s gifts . . .”

Veronica is working hard to change her life and leave her addictions behind forever. But because of friends and partners like you, her time at Atlanta Mission has also opened her eyes to God’s love and His calling for her life.

“I actually graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. My dream was to become a personal chef for people with medical problems. So since I have come here, I have been working in the kitchen, and God has laid it on my heart to feed the homeless and the needy.”

“This is a great program and it has given me an intimate relationship with God. I had walked away from Him, but coming here has put Him back into my life. I’m going to get my recovery . . . but I know I can’t do this without Him.”

Veronica’s heart is filled with joy and gratitude for her new beginning. “I want to tell donors, ‘Thank God for you!’ It is a blessing from God that we have people in our lives that care enough to give to someone they don’t know. I feel loved and cared about. Thank you for helping me in my fresh start.”

Thank you for the gift you share today to help save and change more lives like Veronica’s!

Fred’s Story of Transformation

Two years ago, Fred was working as a security guard. Then, just like that, his own security was gone.

He’d been laid off and couldn’t find more work. He was barely surviving on his unemployment checks — and then his car died.Fred

“I was low on finances, heading toward destitution, and unable to pay rent,” he says.

Fred hit the streets, not knowing where he would turn. He was terrified he’d have to spend the night outside, alone. And worse, it was almost Christmas.

“What a time to be homeless,” he says.

He started asking others who were homeless if they could recommend a place to stay. Several pointed to Atlanta Mission, so Fred decided to check it out.

“That first night, I got a good meal and a good night’s sleep,” he says.

The next day, Fred went out and “pounded the pavement,” as he puts it, and applied for numerous jobs. He did it again the next day. And the next.

For almost a full year, Fred kept looking . . . and striking out. It was discouraging, but Atlanta Mission staff helped keep him going.

“I wanted a job right away, but it didn’t happen, and that was frustrating,” he says. “I kept wondering, When will this end? When will I be self-sufficient again?

“Atlanta Mission was a psychological lifesaver for me. I can’t say enough about how much support I got from them. It really makes a difference, because [extended unemployment] can be pretty scary.

“But they kept saying, ‘Just keep plowing ahead. Do your thing. God will take care of everything. As long as you believe and do your part, things will work out.’”

Which is exactly what happened. Atlanta Mission kept encouraging him and giving him vocational training. And Fred got a job — as a security guard — and moved into Fuqua Hall, Atlanta Mission’s transitional housing unit. He is working and saving money to move out some time in 2016.

Fred is looking forward to living on his own again, but says it never would’ve happened without Atlanta Mission.

“They changed my life,” he says. “I had gotten away from God, and they brought me back to God. They also gave me a greater appreciation for my perspective on life. I used to be selfish, putting me first. I’m not selfish any more. I’m putting others first.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Laura’s Story of Transformation

laura-bioAs a child, Laura didn’t have much of a father figure, because her dad was rarely around.

Though she longed for her father, the pain was too much to handle. “I grew up with resentment and insecurity around men.”

But as often happens in these situations, Laura ended up dating men who reminded her of her father. And she got burned. She has two children — both boys — by two different men, neither of whom stuck around.

Her family ended up bouncing from home to home, and often ended up in squalid living conditions. One location was particularly deplorable, and when Laura spotted a rat one day last summer, she’d had enough.

They turned to My Sister’s House (MSH), Atlanta Mission’s facility for women and children, and found more love and support than they could’ve ever imagined.

“It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to our family,” says Laura. “They take such good care of us. The program here is like doing surgery on your heart. You open it up, poke around, see what’s going on. After you take all the junk out, you stitch it back together. It’s not brand new and shiny again, but it is restored.”

And it’s all done with dignity and respect.

It’s called “My Sister’s House” for a reason. When peers ask MSH kids where they live, they don’t have to say “a homeless shelter.” They just say, “At my sister’s house.”

School buses pick them up first and drop them off last, so other children don’t have to see where they live. And MSH kids are given school uniforms to help them fit in.

“A lot of these kids are concerned about how they’re perceived by their peers,” says Jeremy Stephens, a behavior specialist at MSH. “We want them to find their identity and value not in their financial situation or where they live, but in who God says they are.”

It seems to be working. Laura’s older son, who has some learning difficulties, used to think he was stupid. Not anymore. Now he’s more confident in himself, and he’s a proud reader, carrying a book everywhere he goes.

His mom has also found new identity in Christ. “I used to look for a father figure in men,” she says. “I didn’t realize it, but I was looking for the love of the Father, who never left me or abandoned me. And now I’ve found Him.”

As for Laura’s son, he has just one word for living at My Sister’s House: “Awesome!”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Henry’s Story of Transformation

henry-bioA year ago, Henry was sleeping in an abandoned warehouse in Macon. He was one of many crack addicts who called the place “home.” “The streets were eating me alive,” he says. Henry had gone through a rehab program and had stayed clean for three months before relapsing. A concerned friend ran into Henry one afternoon and noticed he was high. “What are you doing?” the friend asked. “I thought you’d straightened up.” The friend had been to Atlanta Mission several years before, and told Henry that if he wanted to beat his addiction and turn his life around, he should try it too. Henry agreed. The next morning, Henry’s friend drove him to the bus stop, and bought him a one-way ticket to Atlanta. Henry was in for the ride of his life. Out of control Henry’s ride started 53 years ago in south Georgia, growing up on the family farm. It was a stable, loving family, and Henry, the third of three kids, says he was spoiled. “I’m the baby of the family,” he says, “and I got almost everything I wanted. I’d say, ‘Dad, I need this,’ or ‘I need that.’ He’d say, ‘OK, you got it.’”

Henry and his dad were close. They went for long walks among the farm’s pecan trees, talking about life. His dad hoped Henry would some day take over the farm. But Henry, who grew tired of farm work, wasn’t interested: “I know that disappointed my dad.”

Henry went to work in a factory, and he ended up “getting caught up in the world,” as he puts it. “Doing drugs, smoking weed, snorting cocaine.” At 18, he fathered a little girl, but he never married and didn’t really stick around. Several years later, Henry’s dad died of cancer . . . and Henry, feeling depressed and guilty, spun out of control.

He spent much of the next three decades as a crack addict. He moved to Macon to live with his sister, but he never could break free of his addiction. And then Henry’s friend recommended Atlanta . . .

“I Was Missing God”

“I got off the bus and walked straight to the Mission,” Henry says. “At first, I really didn’t want to be here. But as I stayed, day by day, I started listening and learning. I came to realize what was missing in my life: God.”

That was last July. Henry, who’d been a drug addict for 30 years, has been clean and sober since. He says he hasn’t even been tempted to go back to crack. Henry says if it weren’t for Atlanta Mission, “I don’t know if I’d be dead or what. But I do know that I’m not selfish any more. I’ve learned that it’s not all about me.” And though he didn’t know it at the time, Henry now realizes that even on those nights when he was out cold in a crack house, God had a different idea “It’s my favorite verse,” Henry says.“I look at it every day, and I’ve memorized it. It’s Jeremiah 29:11.”

Henry pauses and breaks into a big smile to recite the passage:

“For I know the plans I have for you. To prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Justin’s Story of Transformation

One of the first things you notice upon meeting Justin are the three words tattooed on his neck:

Death Before Dishonor

He got the tattoo at 14 when he joined a street gang notorious for its violence and drug running. Justin had grown up in a broken home with parents who battled addiction. His mom was rarely home, and when his dad was killed in a drunk driving accident, Justin, then 11 and with a 7-year-old brother, took things into his own hands.

He started doing drugs to numb his pain, and selling drugs to make a living. He joined the gang. He bought a gun — and bought into the lifestyle.

“I was a monster,” he says now. He was violent, often getting into fights. He abused drugs, and overdosed several times. “I should be dead,” he says. He’s been to jail 26 times; his longest lockup was for one year.

Along the way, Justin and his girlfriend have had two children — a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. Having a daughter got under his skin — in the best possible way. Justin suddenly realized he hadn’t been much of a family man. He didn’t know how.

“I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore,” he says. “I wanted to be there for my kids.”

He learned that Atlanta Mission does a great job restoring lives and healing addictions, so he came for a stay.

At first, he didn’t like the rules and regulations, and balked at Bible studies and chapel services. But he started reading the Bible, and . . . “

And I started to get feelings, like God was talking to me,” he says. Two weeks later, overwhelmed with a feeling of peace, Justin decided to give his heart to God. “I felt immediate relief, and the bad thoughts in my head went away.”

Justin enrolled in a course called Stepping Up, which teaches men to embrace their roles as fathers and as husbands. Justin says it really helped him, and today he is reconnecting with his children, who are with their mother in another state. “We talk on the phone a lot,” he says. “I want them to know me, and I want to be a part of their lives.”

He is also in training to become a professional barber, and once he opens his own shop, he hopes that his whole family will be back together.

“If it weren’t for Atlanta Mission, I’d either be dead or in prison,” Justin says. “Now, I can be there for my kids.”

The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission thanks to your continued kindness and generosity!

Heidi’s Story of Transformation

“How Did I End Up Like This?”

Because of your generosity and compassion, Heidi and her daughter were given a chance to start anew.

Heidi doesn’t look homeless. She’s all things bright and beautiful, and if you met her, you’d think, This young lady could do anything.

But it’s also true that anything could happen to this young lady . . . or to any one of us. Including losing our job and our home, and having no place to turn.

Heidi once had it all. She was a high school basketball star and was a dean’s list student in college. She received a scholarship to study in London. And she was a rising star with the FDIC.

Even when Heidi learned, right after college graduation, that she was pregnant, she still had a promising future. Her boyfriend didn’t stick around and others urged her to get an abortion. But Heidi believed her baby was a gift from God, and she was determined to make it.

She gave birth to her daughter while working with the FDIC in New York, but soon realized she couldn’t keep up with the cost of living. She’d heard the Atlanta job market was strong, and a local friend had agreed to host Heidi and her daughter for a while. She quit her NYC job and drove to Georgia . . . but her friend was nowhere to be found. Heidi and her daughter stayed in hotels for a while, but soon ran out of money. She had no place to go.

“I started crying,” she says, “What did I do wrong? How did I end up like this?”

She tried a couple of area shelters, but never felt safe. Then she heard about My Sister’s House — Atlanta Mission’s facility for women and children. By God’s grace, they had one bunk bed that was open.

“I’ll never forget our first night at Atlanta Mission,” Heidi says. “I finally felt at peace. It was a place for us to be safe at night, where I wouldn’t have to worry about how we will eat or sleep. It felt like family.”

Heidi prayed every night for God’s protection and provision. Soon, a prominent insurance company offered her a good job, and soon she and her baby girl moved to their own apartment.

Heidi says it was hard to leave Atlanta Mission. She could’ve stayed a little longer, “but I wanted to give back, and staying there would’ve denied someone else a bed. So I gave up my spot to the next person.” That was two years ago. Today, life is looking up for this young mother and her child: “It’s like the storms have cleared and the sun is finally shining again.

“I’m so thankful that Atlanta Mission was there, because I don’t know what would’ve happened to us. Those thoughts scare me. So I’m very, very happy the shelter was there for us. And now my prayer is that I’ll never have to experience homelessness again.”

Your kindness and generosity results in stories like this. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission.

Thank you for your continued support!

Dennis’ Story of Transformation

Now I’m Ready to Live

“I surrendered my whole life to God that day. I surrendered everything.”

Dennis was just 16 when he learned how brutal life on the streets can be.
He was hanging out with some hardcore drug dealers who had found an addict who owed them money. When the guy couldn’t pay, they secretly put battery acid into his syringe. When he shot up, he died a gruesome death, eyes rolled back and foaming at the mouth. Dennis, horrified, ran away.

“I’m 52 now, and I’ve never forgotten that man’s face,” he says.

But it wasn’t enough of a deterrent for Dennis, who would become an addict himself — to crack cocaine and alcohol — for the next 35 years. He started using drugs because he thought it was cool. “I just wanted to be apart of that crowd,” he says. And then he couldn’t quit.He would crash wherever he could, with friends and family members. But sometimes, he wound up living
on the streets.

“You get dirty out there,” Dennis says. “Your personal hygiene changes, and you stink. Your eating habits change. You eat whatever’s available, even if you have to eat out of the garbage bin. I used to hang out behind a restaurant and wait for them to throw food away at the end of the night. Now I’m Ready to Live”

“I’d sleep wherever I could. Abandoned cars, the park, hospital waiting rooms. But you’re never safe when you’re sleeping. You can get beat up or even killed. I can’t imagine living on the streets anymore . . .” Fortunately, he doesn’t have to. About a year ago, Dennis decided he couldn’t live like that anymore. “I cried out to God,” he says. “I just hollered, ‘Help me, Jesus!’” Dennis found Atlanta Mission online, and thought it sounded like the best place for him to turn things around. When he arrived, he was told he would have to give up his pack of cigarettes . . . or come back in 30 days.

Dennis had a decision to make. He gave up his smokes. “When I surrendered my cigarettes, I also surrendered my whole life to God. I surrendered everything.” Dennis has been clean and sober since that day, and is taking great strides toward re-entering life outside Atlanta Mission. Or, as he sees it, experiencing life — real, vibrant life — for the first time. “God is preparing me to live the rest of my life,” he says. “For 52 years, the only thing I’ve done is exist. Now I’m ready to live.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!