James came to the Muncie Mission straight out of jail, uncertain where he would go next. Even more significantly, he was unsure who he was, as years of rootlessness, immersion in a dark community, and addiction had kept him from knowing stability and having his own identity. His story is one of finding the core of himself in the faithfulness of God.
James’ childhood was marked by family moves due to his father’s military career. In the beginning he would make friends, only to leave them behind in the next relocation; as time went on he stopped trying, both in friendships and academics. Finally, after repeating his freshman and sophomore years of high school more than once, James simply gave up and stopped attending school altogether. Nothing good came from his “freedom,” as he fell in with people who led him into drug use, trouble with the law, and severance from his family.
With his life spiraling down, James knew he had to escape. He ended up in Muncie, but the new location did not change him, and he returned to work in strip clubs, where his emerging skills as a DJ were in demand. His life began to revolve around the clubs and their communities where his own addictions and insecurities were mirrored. He fell even deeper into drug use.
Again, James somehow was able to see that his life needed to change. He had been taught about Jesus as a child, and although he had chosen to make his own way in rebellion against God, the truth of His ways still had a hold somewhere inside him. He once again made difficult changes, stayed away from drugs for a while, and even stabilized enough to get married. However, this hopeful start sputtered to a stop after his marriage began to fall apart. Relationships became violent. Anxiety was his companion. Drugs became his comfort and escape once again, to the point of consuming ninety percent of his income. The consequences of using drugs eventually landed him in jail.
James found himself at a crossroads in the winter of 2014. He had heard about the Muncie Mission while in jail; he hesitated at its front doors, debating whether to step inside toward something unknown and difficult, but possibly life-saving. He did walk through the doors and into the next part of the life God intended for him.
Coming to the Mission brought changes to James that he had never imagined to be possible. “It’s in your head: you keep doing something for so long you don’t feel like there is any way out. This place has shown me that there is a way out, there is an alternative. You just have to be willing to search for it.” God’s astounding gifts of grace have drawn James back to Him, grateful for His protection and provision. He is learning to let go of worry, to trust God to take care of him, and to live one day at a time.
James’ outward life has changed, as he works hard during the day rather than partying all night. He has had to adjust inwardly to others respecting him for his integrity, thankful heart, and leadership, after years of not knowing he had these qualities. James has noticed that his anger has almost completely subsided, and he has started connecting with other people rather than building walls to keep them out. He is wrestling hard toward spiritual change as well, realizing that he never knew who he was, knowing he has to let go of everything he thought he knew. God is in the process of changing from the inside out, and it is clearly visible to those around him.
Fear not, for I am with you,
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)