My De/Conversion Story 7: Time to start over.

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I was no longer working at the hospital. I lost a couple jobs after that. In 2009, I went to a tech school and somehow messed that up. My heart wasn’t with the faith as intensely as in prior times.

I was still getting high and smoking cigarettes. I was still messing around with random women and having one-nighters. I would ride around in a ’95 Thunderbird with a back seat full of empty beer cans and 40oz bottles on a mission to find some weed. I was so lost on different levels.

A change of pace.

Right before 2010, I took an opportunity to move to a different state and took it because my sons lived there. It was a no brainer to me because since they were born, I did what I could to stay in their lives.

I was walking with God again for months and by then, I was reading three books a day from the Bible, three hours a day, and spending an hour in prayer and meditation. My knowledge and understanding grew leaps and bounds because of my study discipline.

So, I felt I had all the safety I needed to move to a place I had never been just because I felt that I was walking with God and could go in his protection.

One last shot.

The catch is, I was supposed to go down there to work things out with their mother so we could be a family. This is why I needed God to go with me. I knew that that wouldn’t work. She and I just couldn’t be in the same place for too long before something exploded. Anyone could’ve predicted that failure and fail it did.

I got the hell outta dodge.

There’s two sides to every story. When I moved to live with my kids, I tried to be as peaceful as possible and just go to work and come home.

But she was too controlling. As a matter of fact, she hadn’t changed a bit. I kept turning the other cheek until I had to call the police on her for acting crazy. It wasn’t my home so the police had me leave to avoid further altercations. This all happened in less than a month’s time.

The police gave me a voucher for a hotel to stay at that lasted 3 days. Those three days were relaxing and peaceful. I spent those days reading and praying. There wasn’t really much of anything else I could do. The present and future were uncertain.

On that last day, I called a church in town to get a ride to the nearest city. They couldn’t help with that but instead someone from the church showed up at my hotel room to pray with me and gave me $50 for my departure. Good enough for me.

I accept this mission.

I had to leave that small town. I left most of my belongings at my kids’ home; I only took what I could carry in a backpack. I stopped at the local Dollar General and bought a knife for protection and headed up the highway on foot.

Eventually I got a ride into the city and was dropped off at the nearest mission. At the time, this mission was 3rd in the Nation according to the staff and if it was true, I could see why. It was without a doubt a Christian based mission so I immediately felt within my element.

There’s so much to tell about my time at the mission but it would take away from the blog itself and go off in another direction even though it is an essential part of my Faith story. So, I recorded my entire stay in that mission in my journal from the day I arrived until the day I left and beyond.

It’s literally a day by day account of my time in the mission and worth the read. So subscribe and look out for my journal entries in future posts.

Getting Acquainted.

It’s 2010 in February and its cold. I shared a room with about 16 to 20 guys with stacked bunk beds and personal dressers for each of us. This was my indefinite home.

That first morning, I woke up in a place I’d never been, surrounded by people I didn’t know. They gave us time in the morning to shower, eat breakfast, and get out in the elements until dinner time. You could not be on the premises during the majority of the day. This was the daily routine.

Not turning back.

My parents offered to get me a bus ticket home but I opted out because I came all this way to be with my sons and I wasn’t about to leave them this soon. This was also the first time I left my family and home state. Completely new experiences.

I stayed centered on Christ.

I was in that place alone and unfamiliar with my surroundings. Not familiar with the culture or mannerisms of the people. I was totally reliant on God for my peace of mind and safety.

I had my case of CHH(Christian Hip-hop) cd’s and a discman to keep my mind in a good place during those days. When I wasn’t looking for a job, I would just ride the buses all around praying and meditating until it neared curfew.

I couldn’t stop crying.

If I recall, I think there were a couple nights a week where there would be a guest speaker from assorted religious organizations and they would give a short sermon in the chapel. Normally, I would sit out but I think I got bored with sitting in the waiting area. It was your only option if you didn’t want to be apart of the service and you didn’t want to be bombarded with the busyness in the day room. So, I went in one night.

The speaker was a Pastor from a nearby church. He was older, heavy set, and in a wheelchair. I don’t know what it was but I was just in tears the whole time he gave his testimony. I could not stop crying. Maybe, I just felt connected to his genuineness. Or maybe I was hypersensitive to things pertaining to God because I intentionally kept him at a focal point daily.

Staying on point.

I pretty much stayed out of the mix. There’s a lot of different characters passing through these missions. Some migrate from mission to mission. I saw gay and straight. There were tough guys. There were jail birds and hustlers. There were others like me who stumbled in circumstantially.

I kept to myself but the people around me eventually understood what I was about. Real street dudes gravitated to me because I wasn’t on some b.s. and wasn’t an apparent threat to anyone.

I’ve had some memorable encounters.

Morning devotional.

We did have an option before getting kicked out of the mission after breakfast. If I remember, every other day, there was morning devotional. I started attending because I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity that involved God that I could.

I guess the guy who led the devotional took a liking to me so much that he would ask me to close our meetings out with a prayer.

One day, we were talking about God and he was shedding a couple tears. I guess we touched on things concerning God that only certain kinds of believers identified with.

I think he had been apart of the Vineyard Movement.

Are you in the Spirit?

I remember one guy I had met came to me one day and asked, “are you in the Spirit”? I most definitely was and told him, “yes”.

He asked me to talk to his daughter on the phone and give her some life advice. I don’t recall if I ever got through on the phone call but the fact that he trusted me like that felt good.

I believed that the light of Christ was being expressed through me and people were being drawn to that light. It wasn’t so much as it felt good that people were coming to me, it was more of a confirmation that God was with me(so I believed).

Being “in the Spirit” might mean something different to others but for me it means two things: One, you’re in prayer and two you’re not involved in Sin and you’re heart and mind is aligned with God. It means you’re in agreement with the Will of God in your daily dealings and interactions. You’re in position to be of service and used by the Spirit at any moment.

When thugs cry.

There was another moment I had with a guy named Chris. He was one of the tough guys or at least gave off that impression. He walked in a way that said, “I’m not the one”.

We were cool but I knew he was watching me to see if I was real. He would even start going to devotional after he saw I started going.

One day, he pulls me to the side and starts crying like a scared little boy(no disrespect). He had a daughter and from what I can remember, she was being kept from him in some way. He had me pray for his situation.

This was probably the third time a man had cried in front of me at that mission. People must have saw sincerity in me. I was genuinely living my faith out loud in those days. God was all I had.

Whatever happens, happens.

I had no idea how long I’d be in that mission but I spent everyday reading, praying, exploring, job hunting, and journaling. No one bothered me there but there was at least one person in my dorm that I suspected had a problem with me for whatever reason. There’d be days I come into the dorm and there would be dust bunnies in my bed. I didn’t care and didn’t make a fuss.

Opportunity.

To my surprise, the city had a program every year where they would give those who were homeless, an apartment somewhere in the city. You had to find an apartment that participated in this program yourself.

I was fortunate because the guy who led the devotional put in a word for me with an apartment manager he knew. Next thing I know, I had an apartment before I had a job.

Feeling like I’m his favorite.

I was at that mission for a whole month. I had no clue. I was prepared to be there for months on end if necessary. You can imagine me feeling like I was experiencing the favor of God.

I was even able to get free furniture for my place. One of the movers who brought my furniture was the guy I believed was responsible for the dust bunnies in my bed. He was still living at the mission at the time.

I learned then that I never really had to retaliate, I just had to make sure I did better than my enemies by making better decisions from a higher awareness. I felt God was ‘preparing a table for me in the presence of my enemies’.

What about you?

Have you ever lived at a mission that offered good resources to help you get on your feet? What was th at experience like for you?

Or have you ever been at the bottom and had to climb you way back up? Did you rely on your higher power or your senses and intuitions?

I want to hear from you. Leave you r comments and be sure to subscribe to be notified of upcoming posts. Much thanks.

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