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!

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