FORT WORTH – Anchorless, Danny was drifting. He coasted into a debilitating drug addiction that cost him jobs, his home and ultimately time in jail. Upon his release, he wandered the streets not knowing where he would find his next meal, a safe place to sleep or a solitary member of society who cared about.
Drugs may have driven him to the streets, but trying to survive there killed his will to live.
“It’s like you don’t have any dreams anymore,” Danny Evans said of living on the street. “Society has just sucked you in and taken everything from you. You don’t dream. You don’t set goals. You don’t have no ambition anymore. It’s just about trying to make it day-by-day on the street.”
Having lost everything, Evans found himself at the front door of Union Gospel Mission, a Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger-supported ministry that serves roughly 75 percent of the city’s homeless through a variety of aid programs.
In a humbling experience, Danny shared his story with case workers at the mission – the drugs, the incarceration, the streets, his decreasing desire for life, all of it. Because of his willingness to be honest and commit to turning his life around, he found an open door to a new life.
“They’re breathing life into you here,” he said. “They’re letting you know there is hope, there is life out there if you want it. Go out there and apply yourself and take the next step. There is a chance for you to make it no matter what you’ve been through in your past.”
He became one of the mission’s 325 residents, each of whom are attempting to get on their feet after falling flat for one reason or another. Through the mission’s connections, he entered a narcotics anonymous program and accepted a part-time job on the premises. Workers and fellow residents have pushed him to examine his life and make needed changes. They encourage him, but they also keep him accountable. Danny’s enrolled in Tarrant County Community College and will begin taking classes this fall – one of several small goals he’s set for himself as he seeks to turn his life around.
“It’s changed my life,” he said. “Without this mission, I don’t know where I’d be. Being out on the street is a tough thing for someone who’s never been there before. It’s stressful. And it can break you if you’re not strong minded.”
But Danny’s change is more than quitting drugs and going back to school. His outlook has drastically changed, he said. He credits that to a new relationship with Christ.
Sitting in the mission’s daily chapel service, Danny heard a minister preach on Psalm 40: “I wait patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
The man couldn’t have been talking about Danny more if he’d called him by name. God placed Danny at the mission, he said. There, Danny found God and embraced a relationship with Him, forever altering the way he viewed life.
“This was my rock,” Danny said. “I was just out there. When I got here, my life began to get stable. I began looking at life a different way.”
Danny admits he still has many steps before him until his life is how he would like. He still isn’t exactly sure how he’ll get there. But when times get tough, he knows he has two places where he can turn – the loving people at Union Gospel Mission and a God who cared enough about him to send him there.
“Religion and spirituality was something that really didn’t phase me,” he said. “But since coming here, it’s changed a lot. I’ve got a relationship with God now. I can talk to Him when I can’t talk to no one else. Life isn’t great to the point where I want it to be, but it’s better.”
In 2009, Union Gospel Mission served about 247,000 meals. Leaders expect that number to increase 20 percent in 2010. For more information about the diverse ministries that are supported by the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger, visit http://www.texasbaptists.org/worldhunger, where people can also find promotion materials such as videos that can be used during services. To give online to the offering, visit www.texasbaptists.org/give.