Download our HFNY Resource Card as a way to engage homeless and hungry neighbors.
Read Tim Keller's outline of "Wholistic Ministry" and the Biblical call of the church to minister in both word and deeds of mercy and justice.
Watch our workshop on "How to Care for our Homeless Neighbors," outlining practical ways to serve our homeless neighbors and connect them to resources.
Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road
Dr. Tim Keller
|Generous Justice: How God's Grace Makes Us Just
Dr. Tim Keller
|When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself
To Live in Peace: Biblical Faith and the Changing Inner City
Mark R. Gornik
BY CHARLES BLACKBURN
I was born in a small suburban town in Connecticut. I am the third of six children of two loving, hardworking parents. They provided a very good home, full of love and happiness and good guidance. I attended college with hopes of becoming a doctor or a lawyer.
In my second year of college, I had an incident that burned and scarred my face terribly. I agonized so much about the loss of my “good looks” that I fell into extreme depression and dropped out of college halfway through the semester. I was angry with myself and with God. I felt that God was punishing me for my vanity, and I didn’t believe he was willing or able redeem the situation.
After six months or so, I had enough of hoping that my face would return to normal, so I drank until I blacked out. About six months after I started drinking heavily, I was introduced to crack. I liked it immediately and began smoking crack regularly at home.
I was so self-conscious about my face that I didn’t want anyone to notice me. I would stay indoors during the day, only going out at night to buy something to get high or drunk. Sometimes “friends” would bring stuff over and we’d all get high. I isolated myself from everyone who knew me. I was no longer concerned about living responsibly or pursuing my dreams.
For the next 20 years, I centered my entire life on crack. When my money would run out, I’d feel sorry for myself and also ashamed to the point that I would feel suicidal. At that point, I would go to the emergency room for rest from the stress or I would go back to a detox or a shelter instead of sleeping in subway stations or trains. I started to believe that I would never stop smoking crack. Worst of all, I felt that God didn’t care about my life. I didn’t want to serve God or look for Him. All I wanted was to get my next hit.
But my mom was faithfully praying for me during that whole time. About five years ago she began to have dreams in which God was cleaning me up. In the early morning of March 15, 2015 I was at my usual hangout, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, thinking about how I was going to make it through the day, without a single thought about stopping my drug use. Out of nowhere, I heard this clear thought or voice saying, “YOU DON’T NEED TO BE HERE.”
At that moment, I knew God was releasing me from my drug addiction. I felt this overwhelming flood of love come over me. Immediately I began to cry tears of being loved. I remembered the old Fanny Crosby hymn my mother used to sing—Pass me not, O gentle Savior, hear my humble cry; while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by. At that moment, I felt so wonderful and joyful because it truly felt like God wouldn’t pass me by.
That same day, I left the Port Authority and came to New York City Rescue Mission, because I knew I needed support. I hadn’t fully understood what had happened to me yet, but as I enrolled in the recovery program and started learning more about God and His Word, I felt the need to totally commit my life to Christ and trust in His love for me expressed by His death on the cross. It wasn’t long before I gave my life over to Jesus Christ and started growing in Him.
Today, instead of living for the next hit, I am learning how to live by love, kindness, forgiveness, and humility . . . and everything is starting to change. I have begun to ask for help. I’m trusting and believing that God has a purpose for me. I’m learning to turn control over to God.
Now, God is restoring my life to usefulness. Today I’m a graduate of the program and an intern of the Mission. I am currently applying for a training program in peer advocacy, where I hope to be used by the Lord to help others coming out of a similar background as mine.
I’ve been searching for significance all my life and finally found what I’d been searching for in God’s salvation. I now know who I am—a child of God—and how I fit into His plan. He gave my life back to me with real meaning and hope. When I wake up, I know the value of life, and I know that He is using me to call other people as well out of darkness into His wonderful light. How great and awesome God is!
I never thought that God could bless my big mess, but as Romans 8:28 says, He works all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! I am I’m looking forward to all that God has for me, and I’m dedicated to going all the way with Him.Related Affiliates: New York City Rescue Mission