By Lex McMillan

He was only two, the youngest of three children, when his parents divorced.  His mother was an alcoholic.  Although his parents had shared custody, he doesn’t remember seeing her until he was ten and then it was inconsistent.  He mostly recalls her not showing up when she was expected.

His father was a loving but a strict disciplinarian who taught him many skills and to treat others with respect.  He remembers family camping trips. His stepmother brought him to church and had him baptized.  He graduated high school and completed a two-year program at a local community college, majoring in psychology and horticulture.

He smoked “weed” for the first time when he was just eleven.  A friend told him it would make him happy. It was the beginning of a seventeen-year journey in failed pain management.  From that early experience, he moved on to alcohol, cocaine, and heroin.  He became addicted to oxycontin, taking 30 mg a day or more.

For several years until he was 23, he lived with and cared for a grandmother who had dementia.  When she had to go into a nursing home, his family gave him three days to find a place to stay.  His father wouldn’t let him come home.  Increasingly dependent on drugs, he worked a variety of jobs but couldn’t maintain his addiction and afford rent.  He was homeless for the better part of six years.

He came to the Rescue Mission in 2017 and went through a painful withdrawal.  He was sober for eight months and joined the Marine Corps.  He loved the challenge and achieved the rank of corporal. While training for deployment to Afghanistan, he got in a fight with three other Marines who were boasting about their plans to rape another Marine.  Having become proficient in martial arts, he beat the Marines who challenged him when he told them they should not be talking that way about another Marine.  He was scrubbed with a bad conduct discharge.

In 2021, he was arrested for stealing TVs from Walmart.  While serving nine months in prison, he requested rehabilitation and spent 72 days at a center in the Poconos. It was a turning point.  He returned to the Rescue Mission last month.

Now 28, he proudly tells me he has been clean and sober for 169 days. He’s confident, he’ll never return to drugs and alcohol.  “I can’t believe I’m having this much fun being sober!  It just feels good to laugh,” he says.

He hopes to get a waiver and enlist in the Army so that he can save enough money to launch a greenhouse business.  He feels that his greatest strength is his resilience. Describing himself as “spiritual but not religious,” he is grateful for the support he has received at the Mission.  He enjoys the work and the camaraderie.  The Serenity Prayer is his anchor.

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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