Six years ago, John received the one phone call he never thought he’d get. It was his son.
Even though John had abandoned him years before, his son reached out, desiring reconciliation in their relationship. John’s son wasn’t going to give up on his dad. Even while the days and years passed by, he continued to believe in him.
“That 30-minute conversation six years ago started me on a journey of discovery, of redemption, of restoration, of faith and of surrender,” John explained. “My father [God], the only father I’ve ever known, used my son and my family here at The Harbor to show the depth of his love for me. … and it’s the greatest love I’ve ever known.”
John recalled the moment he arrived at the doorsteps of Portland Rescue Mission. He was done. Life no longer seemed worth living. John was ready to give up.
“There was no more fight left in me,” he said. “I was tired. I was beat up and I didn’t want to go on. But being at The Harbor changed my life.”
For the first time, John had to look in the mirror and face the reality of himself. He had to dig deep into his heart and find out who he was before, who he is now and who he wants to be in the future. It was the most difficult, most illuminating task he’s ever had to do.
“I had to really relive the things in my life and get down to discussing it with people here,” John said. “I had to look at my motives, why I did the things I did and find out, eventually, that I’ve lived the majority of my life in fear. So many of my shortcomings and failures I brought upon myself were because of fear.
“I ran from things. I ran from responsibilities. I didn’t have the courage to talk to people and, if I had to, I would get violent. I just didn’t know how to face difficult situations in my life. … I was messed up. Coming to that realization was life changing for me.”
John has experienced God’s grace in ways like never before, and he plans to impart to others that same grace and love so freely given him at The Harbor. He is currently in Service, an optional second year in New Life Ministries that focuses on additional vocational training and leadership growth.
“Being able to share my testimony with other people breaks down the barriers that people put up,” John described. “By allowing myself to be known that way, and not being ashamed or afraid to let people know who I was and where I come from. The path that I’m on and the things I’ve been ashamed of in my life. People see me as a human being and not something else. It opens doors for conversation.
“I can show that same amazing grace to others that has been shown to me.”
He can show the same grace his son has given him.
After years of separation, John and his son have finally reconnected. And together, with John’s grandchildren, they’ve been working on repairing a car.
“It’s been a slow, slow process, but it’s given us something in common that we can do together and talk about, and really just be more like friends than a father and son,” he said. “It’s given us an opportunity to really get to know each other … and what makes it even more special is to know that one day, that car we’re working on will be driven around by my grandson.”
Reunited and it feels so good. John’s life has truly been transformed, and he could not be more thankful.
“God is every aspect of my life now,” John said. “I’m not perfect, nobody is, but I’m striving to be more like Jesus in everything I do. I try to be more considerate and not self-centered or self-serving. I try to practice patience every single day and not rely on my own understanding of things.
“I wouldn’t trade this last year and a half in my life for anything. There’s nothing in this world that that can replace these moments I’ve had. I’m so grateful.”
MENTOR BILL WHITE ON JOHN:
Any role that I played in John’s life has nothing to do with me. It was all about God. I got to watch as God performed His miracles in John. When I first met John, he was finished. … But as the Bible says, iron sharpens iron, and I got some rough edges myself. So as God broke John’s edges, he broke mine also. God is the one that brought us together every week to see each other as God sees us, and that’s the love we have for each other. … God has given you a person that is going to walk with you and talk with you and show you your special purpose. Keep that focus you have on him now and you’re good.
JOHN’S FAVORITE SCRIPTURE FROM THE LAST YEAR:
PSALM 40:1-2 (NIV): “I waited 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.”