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“My Purpose is to Serve”


By Chris

“I’m pretty much raised in this area. I went to school in Stafford County. I graduated from Brooke Pointe in 2004 and joined the military for a couple of years after that. I traveled all over the state. In between, I dealt with many years of homelessness. Thankfully, for the first time in a long time I actually have a stable place to live and it has been a big transition for me. I’m 35 years old.

I had a pretty normal childhood. I was an adopted child. I never met my mother and father, but I wasn’t ever very close with my adopted family. I am still not all that close to my adopted family. I’ve gone many many years without speaking to them because of me and my behavior. With my substance abuse and alcohol problem and my chronic homelessness, my family was very upset with me about the lifestyle choices I had made. I was just walking down the wrong path.

I was always that extreme kind of kid. We did all the crazy stuff like riding dirt bikes, four-wheeling, jumping ramps, extreme stuff–always seeking that adrenaline rush. A lot of us carried that with us when we went into adulthood. I joined the service right out of high school. I was ready to be gung ho, and a lot of my other buddies went off to do some pretty wild careers.

I was in the army a couple of years. I had been struggling as a juvenile. I became homeless for the first time when I was 17 years old. It was the first time I had no where to go. I saw a commercial on tv saying, “join the military” and I said “hey, I’ve got nothing to lose,” so that’s what I did. I was only in a little over two years. I received a medical discharge for mental health, and that’s when I started drinking alcohol pretty heavily. I had a lot of issues. I was still growing up. Mentally, I was still very young.

After I got out of the military, my life took a serious turn for the worse. The alcoholism continued. The drug abuse started to increase. I was home for a very short amount of time, and I ended going to prison for two years because I wasn’t able to control my behavior.

As I look back, you know they say hindsight is 20/20, but when you are going through a circumstance that doesn’t seem quite fair to you, you can make a million excuses–bad luck, wrong time, I didn’t get the right opportunity; you are going to point your finger at a million different things as to why I didn’t catch a break until you really start to see that these things are reoccurring no matter where you go. You come to the realization that it’s not so much my circumstance, but it is me, myself that is causing all this grief.

It took me to see that unless I was willing to change who I was, the same things were going to keep happening over and over again. So, I had to say “Chris, you can live in this viscous cycle the rest of your life or you can make the decision to change.” So, I choose to say I am not going to put drugs or alcohol or anything else in my body that isn’t going to help me. When I finally decided to quit drinking my life has taken a radical change in the right direction.

When you do decide to make a change in the right direction, you start to see who is there for you and who is there against you. You start to see things clear for the first time, and you realize who is on your side. The church was there.

When you live outside with other men and women who live outside, you develop a dependency and a reliance for them. It is like a family, just as close as any blood relative you could have. When you have a buddy who sleeps with you outside no matter how cold or hot it is, you look after each other. There is a strong bond that develops. There’s common denominators when it comes to people who are homeless or chronically homeless; and that is lack of social support. I didn’t have a family that was willing to help me in my time of need, and so I relied heavily on my brothers and sisters on the street. It is a label, people will place a label on you at that point. (I.e. this guy has a back pack, he looks a little dirty). Now, you are that homeless guy. It’s hard to break that label when someone puts that on you.

I believe God had a purpose for me, and he was waiting patiently on me. He had a calling for my life and I wasn’t fulfilling it. So, he let certain things happen in my life to get my attention. I have always had a deep compassion, almost indescribable passion to help those specifically who have an inability to help themselves–a burden that keeps them from even completing menial tasks. The God given gift inside of me is activated when I see someone who might not even be able to walk and might need assistance.

I’m coming from the perspective of how I felt [on the street]. I just want to go to them, and like I said, help them feel wanted and needed. My purpose there is fellowship and friendship, I’m not just meeting a stranger. I know from experience, what it is to go without. A lot of times when you are in a tough spot, you don’t really even acknowledge your basic needs any more–the need for hygiene, the need to dress properly in the weather. You put those to the side, unfortunately; and you go without, in a sense. I know, for instance, it is difficult to find jeans in men’s sizes that actually fit you. So, one of the ideas I had was working to collect new jeans in various sizes, so that we will always have the size and the kind of the person who needs them. I got some of the churches in the area involved and asked for donated jeans and we’ve been successful with that.

My purpose is to serve. I genuinely care. It is my God-gifted ability to share compassion towards people. I am very thankful for that. It is my calling. I just pray that the Lord uses me in a mighty way. I want to do great things for God, and I just pray that I have a willing heart to be obedient to Him and to answer when he tells me.”

We hope you will receive Chris’s story with loving kindness and meet him virtually using the link below. As you join us in thanking God for Chris’s compassion and calling, we ask you to prayerfully consider how you might honor him and others in the Micah community with a gift of time or monetary offering. Chris is one of many neighbors that our collaboration of churches has learned from, as we have followed God to build the many parts of a “house” where “all are welcome.”
Commit generously to Micah this year, and help us bring more neighbors home.

VIDEO: A conversation
with Chris