Stories of Hope
Love Your Neighbors: Lives Worth Changing
When you see Cynthia today, you see a Jesus lover and follower; a leader on Open Door Mission’s campus.
Growing up, Cynthia’s life was filled with chaos. “My family was really into partying. Nothing was routine. I felt unsafe.” At the age of nine, Cynthia began drinking and smoking marijuana to numb the pain. When Cynthia was twelve, she began to sell drugs.
Any sense of peace eluded Cynthia, even when she became a mother, but a change was coming. “I was tired of selling drugs. I made a huge mistake, was arrested, and thought I’d never see my kids again.
A New Creation
Sarah is graduating this Saturday. There was a time when that day didn’t seem possible. But Sarah’s story is one that demonstrates that our God gives second chances, that He has already won the battle. One of her favorite verses, 1 John 4:4, says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Although God knew the ending, Sarah still had to go through the battle.
Childhood wasn’t easy for Sarah. Her parents divorced when she was eight. Sarah’s mother fell into a drug addiction and they lost their home. Life was never stable. Sarah lived with her grandpa, her aunt, even with a friend whose parents she paid rent to.
Learning to Live for Christ
Matt knows what dark times look like. His spirit was thirsty for Living Water, but he looked for life in drugs, violence, and other religions. It wasn’t until he actually met God that Matt felt cherished and sustained.
As a kid, Matt grew up in a broken household. Both of his parents struggled with substance abuse, and their family even lived in the Lydia House for a while. Matt never learned how to express himself and cope with his feelings. He became very angry.
His first incident of violence was at the age of 12, and Matt went in and out of youth programs, drug programs, and prison ever since. But it was in prison that he truly met the Lord.
Remember John? A Miracle of Restoration
John talks about the moment like it just happened: “I was talking to Eric, my father-in-law. I listened for anything that could change me, when God gave him the words that would make all the difference.”
That was the day John was deciding whether to get help to kick his addiction to painkillers and marijuana. It was the day he was figuring out whether he wanted to recover for the sake of his wife and twin babies. It was the day he heard Eric say, “John, you have two choices. Five years from now, do you want your friends and family and kids to say, ‘Remember John and how he used to be in our lives?’, or ‘Remember that time in John’s life when he overcame so much?’”
Giving my Son the Home I Never Had
“I was broken and torn apart,” said Kelly. “One day I saw my brother had called me a ‘junkie’ on Facebook, and that opened my eyes. Something needed to change.”
Kelly never got the chance to be a child. Her mother was addicted to drugs, her father absent and strict, which meant that she was vulnerable to abuse – emotional, mental, and physical. At 15, Kelly was kicked out onto the street after a falling out with her mother. The years of running the streets that followed are now a blur.
“I dropped out of school, hung out in the park during the day, and couch surfed at night. But whenever I couldn’t find a place to stay, I would sleep on a park bench. It got so cold some nights.”
There’s Love Here
When you talk with Matt, you see a man at peace. He breathes evenly. His voice is steady. He almost glows when he mentions God and His faithfulness.
It’s hard to believe that, seven months ago, Matt lost both parents in a three-week period. A recovering meth addict and a new Christian, Matt had come to Open Door Mission just one month earlier to continue his journey to recovery.
“I was clean and, after 14 years of addiction of one kind or another, actually wanted to stay clean,” said Matt. “My parents gave me a good childhood. They did what they could to help me each and every step. I was the youngest of five kids, and had all the benefits of being youngest. It truly hurt to lose my mom and dad.
“If there was any time I might have returned to life as an addict, that was it.”
Freedom Found in Christ’s Love
When she was thirteen years old, Crystal’s parents got a divorce and her mother became very absent from her life. A family member moved in to help care for the children. Unfortunately, he sexually assaulted Crystal and four of her friends. Although he was prosecuted and went to jail, the damage had been done.
Pressured by her friends and unable to cope with all that she had been through, Crystal began using drugs at age fourteen. Soon she was addicted to meth and various other drugs. As a young adult, she spent all of her money on drugs and was unable to keep her car and home. She stayed with friends, never in one spot too long, but her relationships kept falling apart.
Grateful for Safe, Warm Shelter
As the weather grew colder this year, Mark finally did not have to worry about staying warm outside. After years of living on the streets, through summer and the bitter cold of winter, Mark has found HOPE for lasting change.
Mark had a rough childhood, growing up in eastern Iowa. At age 12, Mark bent to peer pressure and began drinking and smoking marijuana.
This addiction grew to include meth, and Mark found himself in and out of prison. Mark’s troubles progressed and when his relationship with his son’s mother dissolved, he really hit rock bottom.
Finding Faith in Christ
He moved to the United States to attend college, with dreams of finding a job that would support his family back in Zimbabwe. A hard worker, driven by this passion to help his family, Yusufu excelled at everything he put his hands to. Looking back, he sees now that it was God blessing him. He worked as a caregiver for several years, eventually becoming a manager. Soon he married his lovely wife, and they had a son and daughter.
Heavy on Yusufu’s mind was the well being of his family. His ultimate goal was to be a good provider for his wife, his children, and his family back home. One day, Yusufu received word that his little sister had passed away.
Safe Shelter for the Holidays
Kemesha recalls growing up really fast. She remembers her family being homeless as a child, but felt her father provided for them the best he could. Life hit hard when she became a teenage mom at
“I grew up pretty fast,” said Kemesha. Since then, Kemesha has experienced one hardship after another.
“The kids and I lived in a house with no electricity and barely any water,” she said. She even recalls walking to the nearest store to warm up food for her children.