A couple of months after Shepherd’s Hope opened I started volunteering at the food pantry. I met Darryl Coleman, a minister and a regular volunteer at Shepherd’s Hope who tried to help me and a couple of other guys from the neighborhood. I was a gang member and had done some time in prison. The other guys were also going nowhere in their lives.
Darryl spent many hours with us. We all volunteered on a regular basis for about 8 months while Darryl found us day jobs working for people he knew. Life was rough for all of us trying to keep a roof over our heads and working sporadically. We also attended church with Darryl on Sundays but eventually the 3 of us broke away and stopped volunteering at the food pantry. Darryl kept in touch with me but things were going south fast. I faced many tough situations during the next 6 months. I would call Darryl and tell him how bad life was for me and that I needed food and a bus pass so I could go look for a job. We would meet and Darryl would give me what I asked for, but he also prayed with me. He urged me not to go back to the old ways and to remember what I had learned about dignity and staying on the straight and narrow while serving with my Christian brothers at the pantry. He reminded me of the hope I can have in Jesus who will get me through all the tough times.
Then I had my biggest test; my older brother got out of prison. About a week after being released from prison my brother called and told me that he had a line on a large amount of crack cocaine and all we had to do was work the streets selling the drugs and we would make a fortune. I went home and thought about it, and all I could think about was the food pantry and what I had learned there about living the right way and the narrow path that separated the Christ followers from the ways of the world. The following day I met with my brother and told him I was done with his life style. I had been trying for months and had come a long way and I was going to keep struggling until I found a job. One week later my efforts paid off. I got a (legitimate) job in sales where I get to travel all across the country. Now I enjoy stopping in at the food pantry and letting them know how well things are going. It is truly amazing what can happen when you are faithful and obedient to our Lord, Jesus Christ.