Denver

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Joy, Denver CO

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On paper, it looks like Joy and Will’s relationship should never work out.

They met at a rehabilitative center, both struggling with mental illness and grasping at stability. With judgment clouded by circumstance and logic overruled by passion, they fell in love.

Joy was seeking treatment for an eight-year struggle with anorexia and depression after years of sexual abuse from six different men. Will was finally receiving diagnosis for lifelong mental disorders. But this quick, 10-day program provided little more than heavy medication and was a small band-aid on severe wounds for both of them.

They left the treatment facility together and started living in hotels, rented trailers and friends’ houses. Within a couple weeks Joy found out they were pregnant, so they moved to Texas to stay with Will's parents.

Shortly after the move, Will had a breakdown. Joy had weaned herself off her own medication and as she watched Will slide into his old patterns, a fog lifted. “There was a voice in my heart telling me that I needed to leave. It was so scary. I didn't know what was going to happen next or where I would go, but I had to leave,” Joy remembers.

Her dad bought a plane ticket and she came back to Colorado. She stayed on her mother's couch, praying
for God to show her the next steps. Her mother delivered some tough love. Joy says: “My mom told me, ‘You can't raise a baby while living on my couch.’ And she was right.”

Joy had been turned away from countless maternity homes, but then her dad found Champa House. At five months pregnant, Joy filled out an application and went through orientation. “When they called me, I knew that I was going to get in. This was my last chance; all other doors closed. It really needed to happen. I was walking around my house crying and thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, things are finally going to change.’”

And things did change. She had her baby, Xander. She began spending time reading the Bible and praying. “God is so incorporated into everything at Champa. The staff prays for us, meets with us and gives us shoulders to cry on. Having that kind of support in my life was so good for me. Before, I pushed everyone away who tried to support me. But I stopped feeling sorry for myself. I started taking responsibility for things,” Joy explains. One of those responsibilities was for errors in her relationship with Will.

“The staff asked me, ‘What can you take responsibility for?’ I started praying. I knew in my heart that God was going to do something really big and my relationship with Will would be a big testimony for Him. All I wanted was for God to be glorified,” she says. Joy wrote letters to people she hurt—to Will and to his family. After months of anger and resentment, her heart opened up to the idea of being with Will again.

“During the nine months of not speaking, I learned how much I wanted God, and I was seeking Him because I realized it was the most important thing to do. When I got her letter, it felt like life was possible again; I felt hope,” Will recalls.

Joy felt hope too: “I spent such a large portion of my life trusting in my own understanding. A huge part of being at Champa was learning to trust other people's counsel. Throughout the whole process with Will, I've had people to go to. I've never done that before with anything in my life. I had no idea what it felt like to be led by God.”

Now, Will and Joy are getting married. With so many factors trying to work against them, they have found rest and comfort in the fact that they serve a God with much bigger plans than they could ever imagine. They believe that God brought them together not to hurt one another, but to heal and restore.

“We both represented each other’s greatest fear and greatest hope. But the whole time we were following
God through it,” says Will.

God has blessed them with emotional stability and financial security. Joy is staying home with Xander, but they think about the future constantly. They want to foster children and adopt them. Together, they want to show others the unfailing love, forgiveness and redemption that God has shown to them.

For now, their main priority is being stable parents for Xander, but they are already pursuing ministry involvement in their church. Joy is looking to find a place in the women’s ministry where she can show other women how to overcome struggle. Will misses leading worship and is beginning to look into becoming part of the church’s team.

Joy says, “At Champa, they don't convince you to get better—they love you until you are better. The reason I've been able to so radically forgive is because I understand how radically forgiven I am. I've hurt so many people and done terrible things. I was a vicious person. I had so much anger and fear that I lashed out at people. The fact that God still wants to be with me and be my Father makes me want to try really hard to forgive those who hurt me.”

“The Mission’s whole thing is self-sufficiency, but they teach that the only way to be self-sufficient is to be totally dependent on God,” says Joy. Together, Joy and Will have put their dependence on God and through Champa House, they’ve laid a foundation to keep it there.

– See more at: http://www.denverrescuemission.org/drm/stories/stories-joy#sthash.7WlEa8AX.dpuf


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Casey, Denver CO

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When Casey began her work therapy at the Mission’s Ministry Outreach Center three years ago, it was like stepping into another world. Instead of days that began with drugs and ended in domestic abuse, the Champa House graduate attended meetings and refined her accounting skills with the help of employees who saw great potential in the bright young mother. 

“The Mission paid for me to go to the Accounting and Business School of the Rockies, and my work study was in their accounting department,” Casey explains. “Just seeing what real business people do with their life everyday—showing up to work on time, what they wear, how they act; it was all new to me.”

Within a short period of time, Casey adjusted to her role at MOC, reconciling bank statements for the Mission’s outreaches and learning the role diligence played in the workplace. “The people I worked with were so patient and taught me to have determination even if I’m struggling,” Casey says. “It was an amazing experience because my prior relationship made me feel like I was worthless.”

Now employed at a local default firm, Casey in amazed at the transformation guided in part by her time in work therapy. “Having people count on me at work is something I’ve never experienced before,” Casey reflects. “It feels great, and I can’t wait to give back to Mission for everything they’ve done for me.”

For those battling homelessness and addiction, employment often means more than “just getting a job;” it signifies a transition from chaos and hopelessness to stability and success. With this in mind, we thank you for supporting New Life Program participants involved in our work therapy program. Together, we can teach these men and women valuable employment skills that will keep them off the streets and in the workplace. 

– See more at: http://www.denverrescuemission.org/page.aspx?pid=1007#sthash.MvcEE9tQ.dpuf


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Sarah, Denver CO

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“I didn’t know God to be a loving God or a redeeming God. I thought He was a punishing God,” Sarah says, reflecting on how she felt a year and a half ago.

After a decade of abusive boyfriends, a life-crippling addiction to methamphetamine, stints in jail, and giving birth to two children, she was lost.

She had grown up in a loving home, but no matter how much help her parents extended to her, she kept running into the arms of men, seeking approval and trying to find her identity there. By the summer of 2012 her family had done all they could, and it seemed there were no options left. But with a six-week-old son, Sarah made the hardest and most life-changing decision she could: she moved into Champa House.

“There was no more putting it off. I needed to start over. I needed to leave everything I had known  it was all unhealthy and toxic,” she says. She was reluctant because moving to Champa meant leaving her older, 7-year-old son in Greeley with her parents. It meant that anything that ever brought her comfort, however temporary, would be off-limits. No drugs, no parties, no boyfriends. Just a house full of women she didn’t know and a set of rules she was unfamiliar with.

But she still went. Slowly, she began to find freedom within the rules, and strength within herself. And most importantly, she found an unexpected love from those around her.

Chaplain Elaine Phillips was instrumental in Sarah’s journey of healing. “She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. She pushed me at rekindling my relationship with my parents, who I love spending time with now,” says Sarah.

She continues: “The whole staff has been so key in helping me. I came here feeling devastated and abandoned. I was oppressed by my choices and believed a lot of lies about myself. I think that just seeing the Lord in the staff here has given me the opportunity to be honest and vulnerable. They taught me that my identity is in Christ.”

When a woman is enrolled in the New Life Program, she’s matched with a mentor. Sarah’s has gone above and beyond the requirements of the relationship by taking initiative in Sarah’s life. “My mentor Lisa and her family have loved on me and my family. She is so awesome,” she says, finding it difficult to express her gratitude.

“The most surprising thing that has happened to me here is that God has truly changed my heart, although I am a work in progress. I struggled in my brokenness for a long time, but I eventually learned to forgive others, and mostly myself,” she says. She opens her Bible and reads the whole chapter of Hosea 2. She reads about an adulterous woman and a forsaken Israel: how God takes away all that they had made an idol, how they are no longer his people, how he will block their path with thornbushes.

She remembers her own idols: “All those relationships were idols in my life. Drugs were an idol, possessions, my job. I think of everything that I valued and put above the Lord.” She draws a comparison to her life and the lives of the other women at Champa: “If you come to Champa, you’ve lost everything. There are thornbushes all around you. There are rules and firm boundaries set in place to protect you.”

But she looks back down at the Bible and with tears welling in her eyes, continues at the end of the chapter: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

“I believe God led me to Champa just as he led Gomer to the desert. When I got to Champa, that is where he began speaking tenderly to me. Looking back on my life I see his hand in everything. Little by little, he took things away from me, trying to bring me back to him. It was finally when I was left with nothing that I saw his love. He is slowly giving me things back and they are so much better because I see him in them now.”

After finishing a Legal Assistant Program in only six months, Sarah landed a job as a paralegal, fulfilling a lifelong dream to work in the legal field. “I love the people I work with. I love having responsibility. I think it’s hard when anyone is going through any type of legal issue. They need somebody that is going to be empathetic and guide them through the process,” she says, proud to be the person others can lean on.

Reprinted by permission of Denver Rescue Mission.  Please read more of their stories at http://www.denverrescuemission.org/drm/stories/stories-joy


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