For seven plus years, I have been mentoring a friend during his time of leaving the street and habit recovery.
He calls me fairly often with his thoughts, his challenges and his dreams.
Often, because he has some anger issues, he calls just to vent.
But whatever the reason, I am thankful that he continues to call.
Something happened this week that made me realize that this brave young man is in the later stages of recovery — and it is exciting. Let me give you some background.
When I first made real contact with “Jim,” he was just another guy on the street. Because of incidents that were happening at Potter’s Hands, Jim approached me and asked if we could go for coffee sometime — soon!
So on a pleasant New Year’s Day, that is what we did. We grabbed a Timmies and proceeded to drive around for the next two hours while he asked questions about these incidents, and I tried the best way I could to explain why they happened.
It floored him to witness a family selling everything that they had — home, business, everything — buy an old motorhome and drive to Mexico to work in an orphanage for a year. When they came back to start over, the only thing that they had was the old motorhome, plus a few stored items.
Also that ordinary people would give up a great amount to help people on the street with no remuneration.
All these things made him realize that there was something that these folks had that he was desirous of, so he decided to pursue it. He did and made a commitment to attain a regular life not on the streets.
As I continued over the years to mentor him, he became like a son or a younger brother. Many were the ups, then downs, then failures and victories, but I give him all the kudos, because he persisted.
Sometimes he would be so frustrated, he resorted to his old MO, which was to pack up and leave, which he did several times. Everything that he had attained was thrown out the window and he would just up and leave.
One time after he had left town on a Thursday, Sunday came without a word and I remember being extremely sad as if I had lost a son. On Sunday, I expressed my concern to our pastor, who prayed that God would give Jim a smack to the side of the head so that he would realize where his home and new family were.
Two hours later, I received a phone call from Jim. He was on the highway just outside of Thunder Bay, Ont. (at the same time as we were praying for him), throwing rocks up at God because he was angry with him. He was angry because he did not want a conscience.
Then he asked if he could come home.
Imagine my joy when I heard that! “Of course,” I almost shouted, “we prayed for you to realize that this is home.”
Since then, he has stopped running, and with many struggles, has been growing. Slowly but surely the changes were becoming more permanent, and he is now enjoying a job that he is very good at. I’ve watched him work many times and he is a real go-getter.
Then yesterday he phoned to ask us to pray for him because he was going into an interview for a different job with the same company.
About four hours, later he called almost tearfully to say that he got the job; not only that, they offered him more wage than what he had asked for. His joy was almost overwhelming for him.
As he was telling us about the interview, it struck me why this was so different.
In his interview, he did something that is totally uncommon on the street; the comments he made to the interviewer reflected that he was thinking of the future and his own plans for them.
Addicted life on the street is almost always without solid plans for the future.
The fact that his mindset is changing to have a vision for the future marks a true difference in his life-change. If this keeps up, I’m soon going to be out of a mentoring job! In this case, though, it won’t be so hard, because Jim is now truly on his own.
See why I stay at this line of work?
Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.