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When it came time to choose a name for our largest facility 10 years ago, it seemed only natural to me and to the Board that we call it the Village of Hope. This was because as we encountered homeless men, women, and children, we found that regardless of the specifics of the circumstances that led them to becoming homeless, they all had one thing in common: a hopelessness that crippled them.
And our mission became clear: to restore hope and transform lives through the love of Jesus Christ. Without hope, there can be no possibility of lasting change, but with hope, incredible and powerful things can happen in an individual’s life.
I have seen this proven true time and again over the years in the lives of the residents at the Village of Hope. One such example is Justin, who had lost all hope and was ready to end his life when God, quite literally, pulled him back from the edge.
Justin stood on the edge of a bluff, ready to say goodbye to this life.
He thought to himself, “God, if you really have a plan for me and if you really love me, then please save me. Because I’m going to step off this cliff.”
Justin never felt more despair than he felt at this moment.
For the past three weeks, home had been the streets. He had just gotten robbed of the last of his money. His drinking was way out of control. It had gotten so bad, his body rejected everything. But Justin couldn’t shake the craving for his next fix. For eight years, Justin’s life had veered around this vicious cycle.
Now, Justin inched closer to the edge of the bluff. Closing his eyes, he prepared for the final drop. Justin describes what happened next:
“I took a step, but the wind blew me back. I tried again, and the same thing happened again. Then it happened again, but the wind was stronger and it blew me on my backside. I said, “God, I don’t believe you. I can’t believe this is happening.”
It was at that moment God spoke into Justin’s heart.
Justin continues: “I felt a hand on my shoulder and a voice say, “I do love you. I do have a plan for you. Just give Me your heart.” At that point, I broke down. The burden, the shame and guilt pulled off me.
With the help of an old mentor, Justin found his way to Orange County Rescue Mission.
“When I was told I was in, I just started crying,” Justin says. But God had more surprises in store for Justin.
He knew that volunteer work was a big part of the Mission’s program. He prayed, “Lord, anything but the kitchen.” So of course, that’s where he ended up.
He started out washing dishes, and soon the staff asked him if he wanted to try the position of supervisor. So he worked his way up from dishwasher to breakfast lead, to dinner lead. Justin not only managed the meal preparation, he also oversaw food safety inspections, resident training and other day-to- day operations.
Justin is thankful that God put him exactly where he needed to be. “I became a leader back there,” he shares, “for people to depend on. I also trained people and helped people with their weaknesses and turn them into strengths. The kitchen is the best place to come if you want to change, to learn about yourself and how to communicate with others.” Justin also gained vocational skills to become more employable.
Today, Justin is employed full-time and plans to graduate from the Rescue Mission program and move out on his own soon. “God is truly working in and around this place,” Justin says of his time at the Village of Hope.
Thanks to YOUR support, Justin was reminded that there was hope for his life and hope for a future. Thank you for your support and generosity that enables men and women like Justin to find redemption and restoration.
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