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Javier focused on Scripture, changing his behavior

Javier happy

Javier was born and raised in Santa Barbara. He grew up primarily with his mom and brother. “My family was always there for me,” he said, although the truth is, his father was often absent. “He would bring us pizza every Saturday. But he was mostly with his other wife or girlfriend in Las Vegas. He moved out of town when I was, I think, 7 years old or so.”

Javier started skipping school in high school. “I didn’t really attend in 11th and 12th grade,” he said. “I would just rather hang out with my friends and use drugs.”

Javier’s foray into drugs and alcohol began at around 17 when he and his friends would buy liquor from an avid drinker who lived at a nearby park. “Then I met some more people who were older than me and started doing drugs,” he said. “I was experimenting with cocaine and marijuana. I really started using at then and have just continued until now.”

Four years ago when Javier was 20 and moved out of his mother’s house, he started looking into programs to help with his addiction. He was homeless and using drugs and wanted a change. He tried different programs and “it went well sometimes,” he said. “I’d be doing pretty good for a while, and then I’d relapse. So I’d just come back to the program. I was in and out of recovery homes.”

Javier found himself worrying about people he’d met on the streets or at friends’ homes that he had spent time at. “I would think about a couple girls I met and just worry about them,” he said. “It made me realize that I was not living a lifestyle where I could provide help for them or for anybody.”

That shame would often drive him to leave programs. He started having trouble with the law and was charged with possession and being under the influence. While in court-mandated programs, he would often continue to use drugs. Despite that, Javier said he “started taking an interest in what I was being taught. Every time I relapsed, I wanted to come back. It made me feel good.”

Javier came to the Mission 10 months ago. “The thing that was most different this time is why I came to the program,” he said. “I didn’t come here for my drug use. I came for behavioral change. I realized I kept relapsing because I wasn’t comfortable with who I am, what I do, or what I say. I thought that Scripture could probably help with that and help me get to the place I want to be.”

A big turning point for Javier was when he was fired from his job at a shipping carrier. “I got mad at someone for saying something,” he said. “It really triggered me and I blew up on him. I almost got a serious charge that would have meant prison time. I knew I needed to cool down. But I realized I’m not able to cool down if I don’t know how. I read the Bible, and that made me cooler and cooler.”

So Javier focused on learning about himself and improving himself. He dove into Scripture and its application on his life. He committed to vocational training and took pride in the completing the tasks he was assigned to in the kitchen, around the Mission, and at the thrift stores. “When I was given something to take care of, I’d get it done and do it (well). It was a satisfying feeling of completing small jobs, getting it done, not complaining—it’s a feeling of, ‘Wow, I did that.’”

Javier’s self-confidence grew, and he stayed focused throughout the last 10 months. He recently graduated the program and is now a ministry intern at the Mission.

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