THE LIGHT: January 2019
“Running a New Race”
High on heroin and meth, Ryan spent his entire adult life racing to rock bottom. Then he found a new starting line.
One year ago, Ryan stood at the starting line to run in Atlanta Mission’s annual 5K Race to End Homelessness. He’d never run that far before. Could he make it? It wouldn’t be easy, but Ryan knew he’d already run a long way — from the man he was when he first came to Atlanta Mission five months earlier.
“I grew up in a family that was about as dysfunctional as it can get,” he says. “I never knew my dad, he just vanished. My mom was a drinker. Her drinking got so bad, I had to drop out of high school to take care of my younger sisters. And it just got worse from there.”
Ryan finally left home at 18, but he quickly lost himself in a life of alcohol, heroin, meth, and “girls I didn’t even want to be with. I just wanted that comfort. I wanted to feel loved.”
About six years ago, Ryan got involved in a long-term relationship with another drug addict like him. As their lives spiraled out of control, they had a son together in May 2016. “While my son, Ian, was being born, I was literally high on meth,” he recalls. After Ian was born, Ryan’s girlfriend soon got clean from drugs, but Ryan’s addiction only grew worse. By early 2017, Ryan’s girlfriend took Ian and left.
By August 2017, heartbroken, Ryan hit bottom. He knew he needed help and entered The Potter’s House, Atlanta Mission’s long-term residential discipleship program for men. It was hard at first, but Ryan was determined to make it so “I could be the best dad I could be for my son.”
Four months later, Ryan turned his life over to Jesus Christ and got baptized. “Once I found God and started praying, things started happening,” Ryan says. Not only was he able to start working again, he was restored to his son. “It’s amazing.” My son will never have to see me high or drunk. Ever.”
It all made running in last year’s 5K race sweeter. “I spent 10 years running riot, destroying everything I touched,” he recalls. “Now I was running a different race, and I felt like I was part of something bigger. I want to thank the Atlanta Mission donors for giving me the chance to run a new race.”
We’re Running for Their Lives – and Ours
Running in Atlanta Mission’s 5K last year, Ricky and Jessica showed the world what they’re passionate about!
When Ricky and I got married last February, we wanted to use our wedding weekend to show all our friends and family from around the world what we’re passionate about and what we love. And that meant giving everyone the chance to join us by participating in Atlanta Mission’s 5K Race to End Homelessness.
We’ve been running in the 5K for years. Our favorite part is running with the kids and moms from My Sister’s House. It’s our way of showing them, in a very tangible way, that “We love you. We’re going to run, walk, and support you. And we’re going to do life with you.”
But running in the race is just one of the ways we “do life” with them. I started volunteering with the children and moms at My Sister’s House in 2013, and I’ve been going back every Tuesday since. Then I met Ricky, and serving at Atlanta Mission — especially with the women and kids — became a big part our lives. In fact, they blessed us far more than we could ever bless them…
Everybody has something to give. Whether it’s raising support for the 5K race, or volunteering, or praying for the men, women, and children at Atlanta Mission, I encourage you to find out what God is calling you to do and be part of it.
Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story! To learn more about how you can participate in Atlanta Mission’s 5K, keep scrolling.
Join thousands of other runners, walkers, and compassionate people all over Atlanta to help our neighbors who don’t have a roof over their heads this winter
When: February 23, 2019, at 8:30 a.m.
Where: Pemberton Place –
World of Coca-Cola
Register today at atlantamission.org/race
If you don’t want to run but would still like to support the event, register as a Ghost Runner. You will receive an official event shirt by mail, and your registration fee will directly help your homeless neighbors.
Please Help Our Homeless Neighbors This Winter
Your generous support will help struggling men, women, and children escape the cold.
Every night this winter, almost 7,000 hurting men, women, and children will have no place to call home. Many will be forced to survive the cold under bridges, in back alleys, tents, cars, and even on sidewalks. But you can help change all that.
As we approach the coldest days of winter, there are many ways you can support Atlanta Mission and help transform someone’s life.
- Register and run in the 2019 Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness.
Volunteer to help register, set up, and provide general support to the event.
If you are unable to participate in the 5K event, register as a Ghost Runner. You will not have to run, but your fee will help support our homeless neighbors.
Give a generous gift today to help provide homeless men, women, and children with food, shelter, clothing, and other long-term care.
A Race to Witness
Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” I love that verse, because it perfectly captures the spirit and desire of our annual Atlanta Mission 5K race in February.
February is one of the coldest times of year in Atlanta. In fact, every winter, our homeless neighbors can even die on these streets because of the weather. And that’s why we host our 5K race at this time of year — so the people of Atlanta can come together, as a “great cloud of witnesses,” to run in the cold and show those on our streets they matter to us, they matter to God, and that we love and care for them. In fact, many of those we serve at Atlanta Mission will also participate in the race, to “witness” the love we have for them.
Those struggling on our streets this winter are running “races” of their own. They are racing against their addictions, racing from the pain of their pasts, racing to survive. Your participation in our 5K race — as a runner/walker, a volunteer, or a financial supporter — provides them with hope and encouragement. Many will find the courage to come to Atlanta Mission for a warm bed, a hot meal, and even to give life another try.
If you plan to join us at this year’s Atlanta Mission 5K race, thank you for being a “witness” — and thanks in advance for your generosity and its impact on so many lives!
President & CEO
Ways to Give
We’d be honored to have you share in the joys, struggles and transformations of Atlanta’s most vulnerable souls.