It's amazing how circumstances in life can sometimes change so quickly and unexpectedly! One day you are going about your daily schedule and everything seems normal and routine. You get up, go to work or perhaps go to class, come home, eat dinner, watch some TV and go to bed ready to do it all over again the next day. And when the next day comes, you suddenly find yourself in a situation that is completely foreign and upside down to everything you've ever known or become accustomed to. I am sure most of you can relate to this to one degree or another.
A couple years ago, I experienced something that completely turned my life upside down. it actually happened as a series of event but led up to a circumstance I had never even dreamed I would be in. You see, in 2017 I found myself unable to work and what was worse ...I was homeless.
Hello, my name is Charles and I have been waiting for the opportunity to express my appreciation and to be able to give back in some way to the people and the organization that helped me at a time in my life when I needed help and didn't even know where to go for help. And so when I was recently asked if I would say something about 434 ministries, I quickly agreed. Now I do enjoy writing (or talking for that matter) and once I get started, well, I can get carried away. So for the sake of the reader, I will try to keep this as short as possible LOL.
I went through divorce in 2016 and was living alone in a farmhouse my wife and I had rented for ten years. We had talked about buying it early on, but the owner wasn't ready to sell until that year and since he decided to sell the farm along with the house, it was beyond my financial reach at the time. It was in December of 2016 that my landlord let me know that the place had finally been sold and I would need to be out by the first or second week of January. I was in the process of talking to a bank about financing a house but had not found a property I was interested at this point, so I decided to talk to my boss about a temporary solution. In the meantime, I would need to move my things out of my house and garage into a storage unit.
I had been a truck driver for several years and at that time I was home every night since I ran a dedicated route. I drove what we call a "day cab" and what I asked my boss was would he put me in a sleeper truck. That way I would at least have a bed to sleep in until I bought a place. He agreed but it meant giving up my dedicated routes and because of that, it made my work more difficult. Instead of having two stops a day and knowing what, when, and where I was going on a regular schedule, now I would have up to five stops a day and it could be in several different directions to locations I had not been before.
For the last couple years, I had been working 70 plus hour weeks and now, on top of that, I had to pack and move into a storage unit. Now this alone was enough to wear a guy down, but what added even more to my plight during that time was the decision I had made back in October to go off a medication I had taken for 12 years. Being Bi-polar is not the easiest condition to cope with but with medication I had always been able to maintain a normalcy of life including holding down a full-time job. The reason I had decided to stop taking the meds back in the fall, was I wanted to be off an anti-depressant and replace it with natural supplements. For a few months after doing so I felt better than I had in years with more energy and a better focus and memory. The problem developed due to the fact that during the last three weeks of January I was getting very little sleep. I would work 12 to 14 hours a day and then when I returned home I stayed up until early in the morning hours trying to get moved out. Some nights I didn't sleep at all and went right back to work early the next morning. To make matters even worse, in January, my ex-wife and children were asked to move out of the house they were living in because her landlord decided to sell before she was financially prepared to buy it. And they had nowhere to go at the time either. This hit me hard. These were my children first of all, and secondly, in spite of the divorce, my ex and I were on really good terms and I hated to see any of them in this situation.
Long story short, I ended up having a break down and taken to the hospital the first week of February, 2017. By the time I got out, I had no job and no where to go. Of course, at that time and for the next several months I was in no shape to work anyway. With no income, I got behind on all my bills and later on my car was repo' ed. I was able to stay with my mother in Kansas for three weeks or so but had no clue where I would live once I got back to Indiana and what was worse, no way of holding down a job.
Fortunately, while I was gone, my ex-wife found out about a group home called the Macy House which is operated by 434 Ministries. They said they didn't have any rooms open at that time, but if I would come in and fill out an application and pass a drug screen, I could at least sleep on a couch until a room became available. And so began my stay at the Macy House for the next several months. While I was at the Macy House, the staff and some of the board members did everything in their power to provide for my basic needs. Not only did I have a place to stay and a couch and then a bed to sleep on, they also provided some food and necessities such as soap and shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush. They would offer to drive us residents around to take care of business or to go to church and other functions. I did not have any alcohol or drug issues but they offered help and support in those areas as well. And perhaps just as important, they were always there if you needed to talk or someone to lean on.
One of the things the staff always tried to do was to encourage me that I was going to get through this although I will have to say I was in a pretty low place. It was almost an impossibility to see how I would be able to get back to a sense of "normal' again. I became very depressed and did not want to have much interaction with anyone. It got to where I would rarely go out of the house. I worried about my bills and if I would ever be able to work again. I wasn't eating right and lost a lot of weight despite the fact that there was food in the kitchen. Sometimes people would cook dinner for us and bring it over and I would eat then but found it difficult to fix anything for myself. But through it all, the staff continued to reach out to me and took time to counsel and pray with me.
I'll never forget when one of the board members who became a very good friend of mine agreed to meet with me to talk. We met at a church within walking distance of the group home and it was sort of a turning point although at the time. I couldn't really see it. He prayed with me that day and afterwards as he wiped the tears from his eyes said, "You know Chuck, I believe a year from now youre going to look back and be amazed at what God did for you since then and how far he brought you!" Well even though I could see no "light at the end of the tunnel" that day, a year later I was able to look back in amazement at what had taken place in a few short monthsl I was once again living in my own place, working full time, had a nice vehicle to drive and more furnishings for my new place then I even had before I became homeless!
It was a process and it took one step at a time, but one of the biggest helps along the way was the kindness I received from 434 Ministries. I want to first of all give thanks and praise to the Lord for His grace and renewed strength he gave me. I am so grateful that there are places like The Macy House and there are people like Pastor Rob Pryor, Michael Pryor, Tony Myers, Deputy Mike, and Pastor Betty to name a few who either started the ministry, work at the Macy House, and or are on the board. I want to thank them and all of you who support the ministry with financial, food and prayer. Every day, you are making a big difference in the lives of people who, like me, find themselves in need of a helping hand.
May God bless you!