Brent finds his calling

Brent is the Mission’s Outreach Coordinator.

Brent is the Mission’s Outreach Coordinator.

This month, Brent celebrates six years of sobriety

Brent started drinking at just 8 years old. At 11, his stepfather kicked him out of the house after Brent reported him for physical abuse. “I went to school and couldn’t always hide the bruises,” Brent said. “One day my teacher asked, and I told them it was my stepdad… after dinner he told me I just had my last meal at his house. My mom helped pack my bags and dropped me off at my sister’s place.”

For three years, Brent would bounce between siblings. He began to rebel, hanging out with the wrong crowd and using meth, eventually dropping out of high school. As his addiction grew, Brent started using Vicodin and heroin. “I’ve literally done drugs and alcohol in one form or another, and sometimes in all forms, from 8 years old until I was 45,” Brent said.

Brent entered the Life Recovery Program at Rescue Mission Alliance Ventura County after he lost his job and had no place to stay. Over the next several years Brent would find himself going in and out of the program. “I wasn’t ready, wasn’t fully committed back then,” he said.

But after two years of living in Ventura’s River Bottom, Brent came back to the Mission. “I was different,” he said. “I fully surrendered everything. I was honest and open. I was completely ready. … This time, I did everything I was supposed to do.”

Brent graduated the program February 28th, 2019, moving from ministry resident to Transition Living Program staff, to, ultimately, the Mission’s Outreach Coordinator.

The position aligns with his passion and heart for helping others. “I’m doing what I feel called to do – serving people in need or in a bad place and sharing the love of Jesus. When I go out, I don’t try to preach. I talk and pray, but I try to show them God’s love more than anything.”

One of the most impactful aspects of outreach is the ability to engage and coordinate with other local agencies to better serve the Ventura County population. Currently, Salvation Army’s Oxnard Corps is working closely with the Mission to achieve this goal.

“The Salvation Army and the Rescue Mission are doing the same work, just in different ways and on different levels,” said Angelica, Oxnard Salvation Army’s Head Officer. “We’re both faith-based nonprofits that want to help each other any way that we can.”

Recently, Oxnard Corps hosted One Stop (a County of Ventura Health Care Agency program which offers health care, food, and other services for homeless individuals in one place) where the Mission oversaw the food – both making and distributing – to the guests.

“It’s about building community with the community,” Angelica said. “We find where the gaps are in order to build the community up. The Salvation Army partners with the city and other organizations like the Mission to help address the gap – homelessness. By joining forces with the Mission, we’ve done it so well.”

“Both of us focus on homelessness,” added Brent. “The Mission plays such a huge part in this because we can offer immediate shelter and programs. When I’m onsite, I can take someone right then… I get calls from other organizations who don’t have room, but we can take them. Nowhere else can really do that.”

For Brent and Angelica, their partnership is more than just professional. The two are now engaged!

“We met working outreach together, her team and mine, and we noticed each other one day,” Brent said. “I never wanted to rush meeting someone because that’s what typically causes guys (in recovery) to stumble. I was willing to wait.”

“We both experienced addiction and brokenness,” Angelica added. “And we both want to help people any way we can. I think that made us fall in love with each other even more. We’re on the same path.”

The couple with Angelica’s grandchildren, who they are in theprocess of adopting.

The couple with Angelica’s grandchildren, who they are in the process of adopting.

Brent and Angelica have been saved, restored by God. And now their family is experiencing it as well. The couple are adopting Angelica’s grandkids, Eli, 6, and Olivia, 4, and excitedly and gratefully embracing God’s design to break the cycle of abuse and addiction in both their families.

Brent is celebrating six years sober, finishing his GED, planning on attending the College for Officer Training for the Salvation Army, and will do ministry fulltime. “It’ll be Pastor Brent!” he laughs.

“The Mission is a huge stepping stone for me and anyone going through the program,” Brent said. “It did exactly what it was designed to do. It restored me and built me up and sent me out into a life of following God and helping others.

“God has prepared me. I’m committed to my calling.”