By Lex McMillan

Now 67, he looks back over his troubled past and knows he’s lucky to be alive.  He’s deeply grateful to have found his way to the Mission last April and feels that his life has purpose for the first time in many years.  He’s working in the warehouse, running a forklift, and is happy that his boss calls him “an excellent worker.”  He says the staff feels like family. “I haven’t been treated this well in a long time,” he adds.

He grew up in Bucks County, one of four children.  He got kicked out of high school in his senior year for skipping school.  The morning after his last day in school, his father roused him from bed and told him he was going to work at the lumber yard where his father worked.  He learned to operate a forklift and front-end loader and “ran the yard,” moving building materials.  He later earned his GED.

He married when he was only 20.  Their first child, a daughter, arrived in 1976.  A baby boy died within hours of birth in 1978.  Another daughter was born in 1979. He and his wife divorced after she cheated on him.  She died in 2014 of a drug overdose.

He was in a car accident in 1992 and was not expected to survive his injuries, which included a broken hip and blood clots.  While recovering, he lived with one of his younger brothers where he met a woman who became his partner for 22 years.  She had a fall that resulted in brain injuries and ultimately died shortly after his first wife died.

After those tragedies, he said he “lost it for a while” and began drinking heavily.  In 2018 he overdosed on alcohol and was in a coma for 17 days, again not expected to recover.  Over several years he was in nine different alcohol rehabilitation centers and four mental hospitals.  He had a heart attack in 2019 and another in 2020.

After his last time in rehab, he moved in with his older daughter, but her boyfriend kicked him out.  On a cold, rainy night last year, he was walking toward Gettysburg on Route 30.  He took shelter in the carport of Jesus is Lord Ministries.  The pastor found him the following morning and gave him shelter and work.  He stayed till last April when he and a friend walked to Gettysburg and got a room for the night.  While he was out, the “friend” stole everything he had and disappeared.  He went to a local bar and spent his last dollars drinking.

Later that night, a State Trooper found him passed out along the road and took him to the county jail.  Released later that night, he went to a local church where he was referred to the Mission.  He’s been sober since April and says he has no desire ever to drink again.  He enjoys the work and says he’s trying to get used to people being so good to him.  “I feel safe here, and I haven’t felt safe in a long time.”

The Adams Rescue Mission exists to proclaim the passion of Jesus toward the hungry, homeless, abused, and addicted; to accelerate recovery and restoration to the least, last, lonely, and lost.  Lex McMillan is a board member of ARM.

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