My name is George. I am 50 years old. I grew up in Philadelphia with 3 siblings, in a violent home, where I was abused by my father.
We were hungry. It seemed we never had food in the house. I was a troubled kid and began stealing and running away at a young age.
At one point I participated in a program designed to keep kids like me out of jail—but I wasn’t scared. Jail seemed better than getting beaten. Selling drugs and being a gang member interested me.
In my twenties I began to deal drugs and went to the West coast where I joined a gang. Never again did I want to worry about where my next meal was coming from or where I was going to live.
Inside, I longed for peace and family. But it didn’t happen. I had 5 failed marriages and 5 broken homes. One son died of a drug overdose at age 25 and another died at age 16 of a diabetic coma. I was devastated.
I felt so empty inside. The lavish life of Mercedes, BMW’s, motorcycles, clothes and cash meant nothing. And when I learned my house was going to be raided I called my sister in Amsterdam. She allowed me to visit. She said, “George, you know about Jesus.” But I refused to recognize Him.
After completing a drug treatment program I went back to the West coast to face the warrants out for my arrest. I faced 25 years in prison.
Now, I prayed desperately. “God reveal yourself to me. No bargains.” In court, I confessed to two serious charges and knew God heard when my sentence was only 30 days.
Back in NY, I ended up in Albany on a stormy night. I wanted to get somewhere warm, get something to eat, and get off the streets. Someone directed me to Capital City Rescue Mission.
At first I was suspicious of the chapel speakers. Suddenly I thought, “Why are you criticizing God’s people? Look at yourself.” That’s when I asked for help.
The first few months in the New Life Program were rough. Change did not come easy. The disciples asked me, “George, why are you here?”
Finally, I realized I wanted a relationship with Jesus Christ. I wanted to know God the Father.
A transformed life
I began to study Scripture like the Bereans of the Bible. God began changing me as I believed and began surrendering my life to Jesus. Now my prayer was, “Jesus I belong to you. So do my problems. I need your help.”
He helped me be willing to submit to authority and be obedient. That was hard for me. I began to honor my parents by forgiving my father for his abuse. So if I ever meet him I will be able to embrace him.
My counselors have shown me unconditional love and helped me understand the love of Christ. Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ. (Rom 8:38) He gave his life so I can be forgiven and live. That’s the greatest love I’ve ever known.
A diagnosis of cancer
After completing six months in the program I found out I had tonsillar cancer with a 30% chance of survival. When I laughed, my doctor asked why. I said, “The darkness I came from was worse than any cancer.”
Now, seven months later, I have finished chemotherapy and radiation treatment. It is still hard, but the huge mass is gone and my survival is at 80%. I know it’s because of the goodness of Jesus. I know where my strength is coming from – where my hope is placed. And I know He will never leave or forsake me.
Hope for the future
Cancer gives me ways to honor God and more opportunity for people to see God in me. I can’t wait for tomorrow to tell someone about the mercy and grace of Jesus.
On June 27th I graduated from the New Life program and entered the Transitional Living program. I’m now enrolled in classes to become a substance abuse counselor.
Thank you for helping me learn to trust God and not lean on my own understanding. May God bless you for your prayers and support.