A Place at the Table This Holiday Season

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Choosing a Gang Family
Steve’s story begins with a family that started falling apart following a divorce. His mother was forced to work two jobs to make ends meet and raise two children. Steve’s older brother joined a local gang, in search of a place to belong. Missing his older brother, Steve ran away to the same gang.

At age 15, Steve’s home life was living in abandoned cars and buildings, jail, and prison. Holidays were lonely and filled with guilt and shame, without joy.

Steve’s rebellious life continued for 15 years, in and out of prisons, breaking parole, continuing gang activity, and being arrested for felonies. He gave no thought to how his actions were affecting others, much less himself.

Then one day his mother visited him in prison.His mother had never stopped loving him, but decided on tough love. She said that if Steve didn’t change his attitude and ways, she would no longer visit. As he walked out of the visitation room, his mind reeled with the prospect of never seeing his mother again. God began quietly working in Steve’s life.

Finding God’s Family
Steve was told he could possibly parole to Open Door Mission, which seemed unlikely. He did a phone interview with Open Door Mission’s Garland Thompson Men’s Center Director. The final question of the interview stayed with Steve. It was, ”Do you know Jesus?”

God opened a path for Steve to be paroled to Open Door Mission. When Steve arrived at the Mission, one of the first people he saw was a former gang member, Dustin. But this wasn’t the Dustin he remembered.

Dustin was a new Christian, and a student in the New Life Recovery Program. He began mentoring Steve and encouraging him. Dustin helped Steve see the need for Christ, for forgiveness, and for a new family.

This holiday season, Steve will find joy and thanksgiving as he and his mother attend church together. Christmas will have more meaning as they celebrate the gift of the Savior’s birth and forgiveness. This holiday season, Steve will be surrounded by those that truly love and want the best for him—a real family. Once again, God has quietly and lovingly brought the lost lamb home.

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