Brian keeps his eyes on God during MS battle

Brian grew up in the Los Angeles area with his mom, stepdad and two younger brothers. At 22, his grandmother died and he inherited nearly $200,000. “That’s not a good thing for a 22-year-old,” he said. “That’s when everything started going downhill. I was addicted to meth for a few years and then went to rehab. I started to drink and I was getting deeper and deeper into it. Things started getting worse.”

Brian knew he needed help and found it at a sister mission in the Victor Valley. “I wasn’t saved when I got to the program. It was gradual, but eventually I just gave it all up. I told God to tell me what he wanted me to do with my life. He pretty much did: to serve. I was a selfish idiot for so long, that serving others hadn’t even entered my mind.”

Brian graduated but relapsed after a couple years. He went for a fresh start at the Ventura County Rescue Mission. “I was in the culinary program, and I loved it,” Brian said. “I absolutely love cooking. I was the breakfast guy, so I got up at 4 a.m. to get ready for outreach meals every day. I always enjoyed that. The (homeless) men we served were so grateful to have a hot meal and have people be nice to them. For a lot of them, that’s the only communication they have for the day. I didn’t used to care about helping people, but once I saw the impact I made, it totally changed me.”

In the years that followed, Brian has experienced some tough times, including a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. “I’ve been battling it since September 2016. Since then I’ve spent 160 days in the hospital. It’s hard, but since I got this, I enjoy life more,” said Brian, now 52. “I relish life. The stuff I used to take for granted, I don’t anymore. I kind of lost some faith in God when this first happened. I used to worry a lot about the future and overwhelm myself. Now I’m back, going to church. I’ve had rough patches, but I appreciate life way more than I used to.”

Looking back on his time at the mission, Brian is clear about the impact the program had on him. “They pretty much saved my life,” he said. “I was going down a really bad path, and I know I wouldn’t be alive without them.”