At some point, most little boys want to be like their dad — for better and for worse. Don, a 29-year-old guest at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, was no different. But Don’s father was a drug addict and drug dealer. “I learned from my dad a world that revolved around drugs and criminal activity,” Don recalls. “Drugs are how you deal with stress or anger. You push everyone away, isolate yourself and do drugs. Most of the time when my dad did drugs, he sent me to my room or sent me out of the house. I learned early on that I’m more acceptable when I’m not seen.” Don ended up smoking pot by the age of 9, and before he left high school, he’d discovered Valium, Vicodin, mushrooms and acid.
RUNNING FROM TROUBLE
He was just 18 when he met a girl and got her pregnant. They married and he cut back his drug use to care for his new family. But whenever trouble cropped up, instead of dealing with it, he’d leave and use drugs again. When his marriage fell apart, he left for good. He was 26. “Then I started taking Percocet for a back problem,” he says, and he was quickly addicted. “From that point on, my life went downhill. I started stealing to support my habit. That addiction was worse than anything I’d ever been through.”
FINDING THE ULTIMATE FATHER
He ended up in jail for stealing a camera. But in jail, he found healing and faith in a Christian recovery program. When he left jail in August 2013, he feared being on his own again. So he came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission to ground himself further in his new faith. “When I came, I felt a lot of guilt and shame for what I’d done,” Don says. “But I learned what Jesus had done for me and He freed me. I started to deal with the things my father had taught me, and I learned who my true Father is.”
Here he has also found a new family of Christian brothers who refuse to let him run away whenthings get hard, and instead hold him accountable — in love. “Thanks to them, I’ve learned how to deal with stress in new ways,” he says. “They’ve given me hope for a sober future and a more godly walk. Thanks to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, I found God and I have a new family and a new path for life.”