Will is grateful for the Mission’s ‘open arms’

Will calls the Los Angeles home he grew up in broken. His parents were both drug addicts and they divorced when he was 12. He has a brother and sister. “I come from a family of drug addicts. I got into a lot of trouble when I was younger, just missing school, going to juvenile hall. Most of my memories are negative, but it wasn’t all bad. We used to go camping as a family sometimes.”

Will started smoking marijuana as a young teen. He had cousins who influenced him, and Will had criminal and drug issues from a young age. He became a father when he was a sophomore in high school, so he dropped out of school and started working. “It was scary, but it was beneficial too. It matured me a little bit.”

Will was with his son’s mother for a while, but they split up when he was 18. “I got really involved with drugs then, heavily, and then my mom died. She died of lung cancer—she smoked cigarettes and meth—when she was 44. I wasn’t working after that. I was just using and making some money from selling drugs.”

Will continued that lifestyle until he went to prison at 19. “I was in and out for seven years, mostly for possession,” he said. “But at 27, I gave my life to Christ. My mom had lead me to Christ before she passed away. She used to read the bible a lot, even though she used drugs—she even led two of my friends to Christ. I don’t know what happened. Something just changed in my heart. I got really tired. I moved to Hesperia and started going to church with my uncle, who had gotten clean.”

Will quit using and was sober for seven years. “I went to school, and studied biblical studies for three-and-a-half years in college. I worked for the Mission, doing security at the thrift store. I met my wife and we had a son, and then twins, but one of them didn’t come out fully developed—they were premature. He was in the hospital for three years before he died. I wanted to seek counseling through our pastor, but she didn’t want to. We split up a year after the death of our child.”

After he relapsed, Will entered the program at Central Coast Rescue Mission, a sister ministry. He relapsed again three years later. “Over the last 12 years, I’ve only had about three-and-a-half years I was drinking. I’ve dabbled in drugs, but mainly alcohol. Then I relapsed. It was just me thinking I could have a drink, and to be honest, I couldn’t.

“I just picked up a bottle again, and started to drink. It spun me out of control. For three weeks, I was living in my car. Then I drove to my aunt’s house and called this program, which was such a blessing.”

Will, now 40, arrived at the Mission in February. “It’s going really well,” he said. “It’s been the community here that has really filled this void of loneliness. I’m learning how to grow in Christ in a community. The chaplains and the fellowship here in Christ have really helped me. I’m really thankful for the open arms that were waiting for me here.”