Eric held a steady job most of his life. His life wasn’t perfect, but he was getting by. He certainly never expected to be homeless.
Addiction crept over Eric slowly, a seemingly harmless habit that snaked its tendrils deep into his heart. By the time he noticed, the grip was too tight to escape on his own. Eric tried several recovery programs, but couldn’t seem to rip his addiction out at the root.
Last year, Eric hit bottom. “I was coming off a relapse and I was broken,” he remembers. “I had 69 cents in my bank account and I was just wondering, ‘When did this happen?’” Unable to pay for his cheap motel room, Eric faced a frightening reality: he was now homeless. He weighed his future. Would it be a lethal dose of heroin, or should he just hang himself? Whether by accident or choice, he knew he couldn’t last much longer.
“I can either live or I can die,” he thought, “and I want to live.”
Immediately, Eric worried about where he could get food. “I’ve gone without eating and it’s horrible,” he remembers. “You can’t think or concentrate. You’re agitated and irritable. It’s really hard to function.”
He didn’t sleep much his first night outside on the streets of Portland. “There were people hovering over me. Drug deals going down. Fights happening around me. I needed to get off the street and into a safe place.” Eric had no idea how to survive or where to get help.
When someone pointed Eric to Portland Rescue Mission, his heart quickened with relief. “When you’re on the street, you exist moment to moment just trying to survive. At the Mission, I had something to eat, some friendly conversation and a place to stay. The volunteers cared a lot and were helpful.”
The welcome he received and a good night’s rest helped Eric feel like tomorrow could be better. He eventually joined The Harbor, our New Life Ministry for men with a yearlong residential addiction recovery program.
“I had some dark moments in my addiction,” says Eric. “Here, you look at yourself and all the regret and pain. I’m learning that if I forgive myself and other people, and give it to God, I can move on to better things.”
Central to Eric’s recovery has been embracing his faith with God. “One of my goals was to be a mature man of Christ. I have a mentor who really shows me what that looks like.” Eric gets up at 4:00 AM to make sure he has time to read his Bible and listen to God. “To have a relationship with God is my main hope. Everything else falls into place from there.”
As part of his recovery, Eric gives back by helping out in the evenings at the Burnside Shelter. It’s a good reminder of the hope that stirred within him when he was on the streets, hungry and exhausted. “I’m able to give other people a bed at night,” he smiles. “It’s full circle for me now. It’s just a miracle.”
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