Tonight in Bakersfield, many of our neighbors will go to bed hungry, homeless and hopeless.
I used to think homeless people must be addicts or mentally ill. Then I had a series of crises that left me homeless. Now I know it can happen to anyone. You see, not that long ago, I had everything a man could want — wife, kids, job, home . . .But that all began to unravel when we lost our second son. As we tried to come to terms with his passing, I suffered a horrific injury at work that left me unable to walk for more than a year (and with significant pain for much longer). Because I couldn’t work in the same capacity, our finances deteriorated, my wife and I suffered . . . and she left me for another man, taking our children with her. Over the space of just a few years, I’d lost a son, my health, and my family. “Brokenhearted” doesn’t begin to capture how I felt. After some soul-searching, I decided to move back home with my parents. They were going through financial troubles, and I thought I could help.
Instead, my parents — my very own parents — stole the little money I had left. Now that hurt. No one expects to get conned by their mom and dad. So, I took my few remaining dollars and checked into a cheap motel for a few days. Then, I had nothing. Rather than hit the streets, I came to The Mission at Kern County. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this place was better than I hoped. I was treated with dignity and love. They led me closer to God. He gave me strength to forgive, and grace to accept a life I never wanted. I also met other homeless people with similar stories — good people undone by tragedy. We grieved together, and thanked God for uniting us here. Like I said, these experiences profoundly changed my perspective on homelessness. Now I realize life can go wrong for anyone, but compassion can comfort a broken soul. I thank God for this new understanding, and for the Mission and its supporters who made it possible.