“What is your new year’s resolution?” I asked my friend and shelter resident, Michael.
“As far as a new year’s resolution, mine isn’t really a resolution, it is a commitment. I don’t want to say I’m going to do something, I want to be a man of my word in everything I do, not just in one thing. I want it to be a commitment. In 2017, I am going to do what I say and be a man of my word,” he shared.
Impressed, but not surprised, I have seen a tremendous transition in Michael’s life over the last couple of years.
“The first time I was homeless, I lived in Chicago and became the person carrying the big black bag over the shoulder with three sets of clothes on and a thick beard” Michael shared.
“A woman approached me saying, ‘The lord told me to ask you, what your story is?’ Every night she came and we talked because I didn’t want to see the daylight and I didn’t want to do anything. I couldn’t even pray anymore then I remember a pastor told me once, ‘There is power in the name of Jesus,’ and I went to the bridge by the lake seeking life again.
I still had issues. When I came to Canton, and found myself at Refuge of Hope, this was my second time going into a shelter and I got depressed and angry. That was almost two years ago.
When I first came here, it was a growing experience. When you are in a shelter, all you see is a shelter and all you can focus on is you are in a shelter. I found myself so overwhelmed and depressed and went to the hospital. That is where I started praying, again.
God told me it was a time of acceptance and Refuge of Hope became very peaceful and very helpful. It made me want to help give a helping hand.
It was a growing experience being here and the more I stayed the more I started to learn patience. It wasn’t about me and my own place. If you really sit back and do step by step what you need to do, you won’t be wanting to run out of here and I started taking care of things I needed to take care of. This became stability instead of a shelter.
I made the phone calls and did the appointments. It is more than a shelter and a place to sleep and eat, this mission is about getting help and information.
Talking to U-londa, Dawn and Scott encouraged me. By doing that, I was able to get my own place. I used the men’s shelter for exactly what it is intended to be used for.”
That was two years ago and Michael is back in our mission today.
“There is a lot more here than meets the eye if you seek it. I am so peaceful here how, I love working here as a resident assistant. It’s better than working for money because I am getting a double blessing doing what I do here, its’ incredible!
We memorize scripture here. I find I friend the guys who stay to themselves, we help each other.
All things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.
– Romans 8:28
I am not worrying about if I find a place, it will happen. Do what you’re supposed to do. I love all of you and you still love me!” he smiles and I can see pondering in his eyes. This man has become my friend and I sit letting him have his thoughts.
“I am too peaceful to be in a shelter. You don’t know what I know.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;
and all these things shall be added unto you.
– Matthew 6:33
I can have all the things I want or need. I don’t worry about stuff like that anymore. I was angry at myself which makes things around me negative, but I am not angry anymore. I just talked to an older man who told me his situation of how he got here. Everyone isn’t here because they did something they weren’t supposed to, you cannot judge people in a shelter. It made me feel our situations were similar.
I am responsible, even here.
When you get in here, some think the mission is supposed to get me help to get an apartment. It doesn’t mean you have to stop doing the work yourself. There is a lot of help available here.
Once I began to use this shelter for what it is for, stability for my life, the information I collect here I share with others. I lead a lot of men here to men’s challenge and still keep in contact with former residents.
I have a church, mentors and friends that are still doing good.
I enjoy volunteering and this is not by accident I am here. God is preparing me for ministry. This is ministry here, every aspect of it. I definitely want to be part of ministry and I’m growing.
I’m using the purpose of this mission to get what I need to move forward and I am more grateful.
When I leave here, God will have more for me.
When I left here to get my own place that was all I was thinking about. Now, I want my driver’s license and to live where I want to live. I can use this time to my benefit. I almost left here and realized I don’t have to, I can get the things I need and be more stable than just getting an apartment. I want to continue doing work, seeking more peace because I am older now.
I won’t have true happiness or joy unless I am doing God’s work. I have to have that in my life and I don’t want to jump off the boat like I did last time.
Being much more comfortable with the guys because of ministry work, talking to the guys on a positive note makes me feel good as I share my own life experience. When I hear people talking negative about their life, I share my experience and what I know, I do that a lot here. I understand about being in a shelter. It isn’t easy and I understand how the guys feel.
Being a one-on-one kind of a guy I have a phobia about talking in public, but I’ve been doing this and one of these days I’d like to do devotions.”
“For me, 2017 is going to be about commitment,” and to that he laughed and share he already had to follow through on a commitment that truly took him out of his comfort zone.
“One guy asked me to go to open mic and cheer him on. I committed in conversation and said that I would and it was a learning experience! I got right in the front of the stage supporting a fellow shelter resident by allowing him to express what he really wants to be, a singer, which was powerful.
I don’t go anywhere, but I pray all the time. I used to like doing stuff like coffee shops having coffees and teas I’ve never had before. Following through on my commitment, stretched me out of my comfort zone. God used him to get me back into a coffee shop. God is able and I felt good about being there.
God used him to help me.”
In New Year’s resolution, as tradition finds a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, I love that Michael chose to make his a commitment; rather, than a resolution.
“As far as a new year’s resolution, mine isn’t really a resolution, it is a commitment. I don’t want to say I’m going to do something, I want to be a man of my word in everything I do, not just in one thing. I want it to be a commitment. In 2017, I am going to do what I say and be a man of my word.” – Michael, a Refuge of Hope shelter resident
What’s your New Year’s resolution?