Lives Restored: Durham Rescue Mission Testimonies

Walter Cole  I  Karen Ramsey  I Liz Wrenn  I Shelia Joyce  I Chanda Drayton I John Rush I  Brandy Ammons  Melvin Wrenn  Mike White  Billy Bullock  Lynn Holloway  I  Shaunda  I  Preston Jones  I  Tom Douglas  I  William Henderson  I  Terry Ferris  I  Dave Lowry  I  Norvel Lewis  I  Delma Woodson

Walter-Cole-SMWalter Cole

Former Director of Men’s Division

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant”
September 9th, 1947 – November 10th, 2011
Born Again November 17th, 2002

After a brief battle with cancer, Walter was welcomed home by the Lord he loved so dearly. Born to Walter and Maxine Cole, Walter grew up as the son of a sharecropper in Oakridge. He served in the US Army during the Vietnam War, achieved Top Secret clearance, and received an honorable discharge.

Walter served at the Durham Rescue Mission from November 2003 to November 2011. As the Director of the Men’s Division, he was an inspiration to all. November 7, 2011, Walter received his Bachelor of Theology from Cedar Grove Baptist College.

He is survived by his loving wife, Leola Cole; sons, Walter Jr., Timothy, Mohamed, and Kwame; and his daughter, Nicole. Walter had a large extended family, which included many loved ones and friends.

A celebration of Walter’s life was held on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 11 a.m. at Fellowship Baptist Church in Durham.

In lieu of flowers, Walter requested donations to Nicole’s Scholarship Fund. Send to Fellowship Baptist Church, 515 Southerland St., Durham, NC 27703. Holloway Memorial Funeral Home is assisting the family.

Walter’s Testimony

Walter-Cole-and-Family-SM“I started using heroin in 1968 while in the Army. Others were using it and asked me if I wanted to try it. The first time I used heroin, one of the guys injected it for me and after that, I was hooked. I served my hitch, even had Top Secret clearance, and got an honorable discharge.

After my discharge, I hopped from job to job. By now, I was on all sorts of stuff; heroin, cocaine, and even LSD. Drugs became my life. One day I just went home and told my wife, ‘I’m not working anymore.’ Instead, I started a life of robbery just to support my $100 a day habit. My feelings were dead. I didn’t care about anything.

In 1971, I was arrested and sentenced to seven 25-30 year sentences. I had to quit heroin “cold turkey.” The guards just let me lay on the floor of my cell in my own filth for three days. I never wanted to go through that again, so I quit heroin, but kept on using cocaine and marijuana (yes, it is easy to get in prison).

When I got out of prison in 1994, I started going through drug rehab programs. I tried psychotherapy, stress and anger management, and other things. Nothing worked. The whole time I was in a program, I knew I’d use drugs again. I was dangerous to myself and to others, so I was sent to the mental institution in Butner. It was there a counselor asked me, ‘What do you think can help you?’ I said, ‘I’ve tried everything but God.’ They referred me to the Durham Rescue Mission.

In the very first chapel service I attended at the mission, the speaker asked us to raise our hands if there was ever a time we received Jesus Christ. I raised my hand. After all, in 1985, I did something like that, and I was even baptized. But then he asked another question. “If you know 100% that you will go to Heaven, raise your hand.” You know, I couldn’t raise my hand. I really couldn’t say whether or not I’d get to Heaven. So, I went forward. A counselor took the Bible and showed me how I could receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. In October 2002, I got saved for real. God mended my shattered life, and I am happy to share with you that my family has been restored.”
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DSC_0144Karen Ramsey

Victory Graduate, Currently Employed as a Tax Assistant for the Durham County Government

Karen’s Testimony

“I came to the Durham Rescue Mission in March 2011. When I came to the mission, I was broken mentally, physically and spiritually. I grew up in an alcoholic home, and that kind of lifestyle was easy for me to turn to. Because I had no coping skills, I was drinking and drugging at a young age.

Karen with CarAt first, it was easy for me to maintain a job. I got married at 21, and my first child was born at 23. Still drugging very badly, needless to say, that marriage ended very badly, and I moved around a lot. When I was 29, I met my second husband, and we were only married 6 months, long enough for him to see his son being born. Three weeks later, he was gone, and I’ve never laid eyes on him again. I was a single mom with two kids and struggling. I kept getting deeper into drugs, and when I had lost my job, I had nowhere to go. I ended up on a couch at a friend’s house. I called my first ex-husband and asked him to take my daughter because I didn’t want her sleeping on the floor. He took her, and I thank God that he was there; Randall had no choice but to stay with me. I went through men and jobs, and I started using crack cocaine. My life felt like it had ended. I was just a user back then. When I finally called my aunt in Durham, DSS had already taken my son from me, and again I had nowhere to call my home and asked her if I could live with her. She, of course, knew what my problem was and quickly started calling around to find somewhere for me to go to get help. That’s where the Durham Rescue Mission came into my life and when I started living again.

DRM Graduation 2012I went through the Victory Program, and that was truly a blessing. I have given my heart to God, and he has blessed me enough for the rest of my life. By God’s grace and mercy, he has allowed me to see how much he loves me and not only me, but everyone. He has blessed me with a great job in Durham County Government, and I would have never dreamed that this would’ve happened a year ago. God has allowed my son to come home, which was my heavenly Christmas present because I got full custody of him on December 23rd, 2011. I know God can change the hearts of kings; I am living proof oKaren-housef that.

I now own a car, and I attend a fantastic church named Fellowship Baptist which I look forward to going to every chance I get. God has allowed me to see my son get saved and baptized. God has restored many relationships in my life with my family. And on June 30, 2014 I moved into my own Habitat Home! I am very grateful and proud to say that I am a Christian.”
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Liz-WrennLiz Wrenn

Victory Graduate, Currently Employed as a Deli Assistant at Costco in Durham

Liz’s Testimony

Before coming to the Durham Rescue Mission, I was living a very selfish lifestyle. I grew up in a Christian home and was saved at the age of 15. I was active in my church youth group and graduated from Christian school, but at the age of 18 I turned my back on everything I believed in and began experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

On October 18, 2007, I started dating Jason, who is now my husband.  It wasn’t long after we met that we began using drugs together.

During this time, I found out that I was pregnant, and on March 10, 2011 our son was born.   Having Ian changed me.  I wanted to be the best mother that I could possibly be and raise him in a Christian home, but I began to use again.

Jason had been talking to me about the Durham Rescue Mission.  He said that his dad, Melvin, had been there for a while and graduated the program.  He thought that it would be a great beginning for us to make a change, but I wasn’t ready to take that step. I continued to live a selfish and reckless life.  But during this time, I started thinking about the big picture of what my life was going to be if I continued to live the way I had chosen. I didn’t want to lose my son, but I knew that it was a possibility.  I didn’t want to overdose, but I knew that was possible too.  So I talked to Jason and we decided to take a leap of faith and go to the Mission.

On the morning of January 2, 2012, we packed for the move, but God had other plans for Jason.  He was taken into custody and sent to jail. But despite all of that I still came to the Mission.  I walked through the doors of the Good Samaritan Inn with 2 bags, a diaper bag, and a 10-month-old son. I didn’t know what to expect and I was scared, but nonetheless, I wanted to change. I began reading my Bible again and restoring my relationship with God. On February 1, 2012 I started the Victory Program. It became real to me then that God was not done with me yet. Despite all that I had done, turning my back on Him and trying to take over my own life, He still had a plan for me.

After spending the 6 months in jail, Jason finally began his journey here too. On July 23, 2012, we were married.

Today I have graduated from the Victory Program and I’m employed at Costco in Durham as a deli associate. I thank God every single day for what he has done for me.  My life has been transformed in a miraculous way.
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Shelia-JoyceShelia Joyce

Victory Graduate, Currently Employed at the Durham Fire Marshal’s Office

Shelia’s Testimony

In February 2011 I came to the Durham Rescue Mission. I had come to the realization that I needed help with my addiction to alcohol. I was using alcohol to self-medicate … but since alcohol was legal, it was okay (or that was my excuse).

When I was 7 I accepted Christ as my Savior and served Him faithfully for many years. When I was in my 20’s I slowly began to get away from church. I went on active duty in the military and it became easier to find excuses not to attend church. The military is in no way to blame for my not attending church … it was just Satan’s way of getting his foot in the door. My excuse was I did not know the area and when I would go to a church it was not what I was looking for. So soon I just stopped going all together.

I married someone in the military and for a long time everything was fine. We both would go out and have a great time partying with friends (it just seemed to be the normal way of life). Everyone was doing it so what was the problem. My drinking got worse as time went on but I didn’t really “need” it…I could go for days without drinking so I didn’t think I really had a problem. When I retired from the military it steadily got worse. My already shaky marriage got worse and soon we separated and I left and went to live with my parents.

Everything was fine for a while but I started hanging around old friends and falling back into old habits. I began to drink alone in my room… first at night to help me sleep and then just as a way to cope with my life. God was working on me and I kept telling myself I was too unworthy, after all I had done how could He still love me. I knew deep down that no matter what I did He loved me still and all I had to do was ask for His help and He would be right there.

When I attended church, I went to Florence Memorial Baptist Church. My pastor Rev. “Buster” Florence (deceased), a friend of the Mission for many years, called and asked if they had room for me and was told that they always had room for one more. So I had my mom bring me to the mission and I checked in. One of the first people I met was Rebekah Allred and when she told me her story and how the Mission had helped her turn her life around and get back to God I knew there was hope for me.

Through Bible study, the Victory Program and attending a great church (Fellowship Baptist) I slowly found my way back. At one time I thought I didn’t need to be there anymore that I had it all together and left but was back within a few days and was welcomed back with open arms.

Because Dr. and Mrs. Mills listened to God and cared enough to “lend a helping hand”, people like me are able to once again get their lives back. I now have a great job working for the Fire Marshall’s Office and I have moved out of the Mission and I own my own home in the community. God willing, in a few months, I plan to move back to my hometown, live in my grandmother’s house (that I own), fix it up and then retire in a couple of years.
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Chanda DraytonwebChanda Drayton

Victory Graduate, Currently Enrolled at North Carolina Central Studying Early Childhood Education

Chanda’s Testimony

Before coming to the Durham Rescue Mission, my life was in shambles and my marriage was falling apart. I blamed the world for all the things that happened to me in life and I was angry with God for letting it happen. From being molested as a child to the death of my son at only four days old, I believed God did this to me. So, for years I carried that anger around with me, I made many life decisions for my family through that anger. Of course many mistakes were the result and on August 24, 2012 my husband, daughter and I came to the Durham Rescue Mission Good Samaritan Inn. I remember it like it was yesterday, the feeling of relief I got when we walked through those doors. My anger was released.

Coming to the Mission was supposed to be about us just having a place to stay. The only thing we wanted from this place was a bed to lay our heads. Thankfully, the Durham Rescue Mission had so much more to offer us. From the teaching we received through the Victory Program, to the biblical counseling that brought our marriage closer together. We were taught to see ourselves as God saw us. We learned that there was a better life out there waiting for us, a life above in the future, and promise. The Durham Rescue Mission saved my life and helped to save my marriage.

NCCU ChandaMy family and I have been at the Good Samaritan Inn for over a year now. And in that time we have made some great friends, we have had  the opportunity to grow closer to one another; we have become a part of a wonderful church family and, have grown closer to God. From the day we came to the Mission to now, we have been blessed beyond all explanation. Both my husband and I have graduated the Victory Program and now I’m in College! I am in my sophomore year at North Carolina Central University where I will receive my degree in Early Childhood Education; in hope of one day openinDurham Tech Jahang my own Christian daycare center. I am also currently employed providing quality life services for seniors with intellectual disabilities. My husband has completed his training through a program at Durham Technical Community College in the field of telecommunications. And is in the process of beginning his internship with Time Warner Cable. But, the best part of all of this is that we are now also full of the confidence that comes with knowing that we are God’s children.

I thank God for all He has done for us and I want to thank the many donors who give their time and money to a place that has helped us learn to live and lead better lives with the Lord’s guidance. With the help from your donations the doors of The Durham Rescue Mission were open to us. Thank you.
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John RushJohn Rush

Victory Graduate, Currently Employed at Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company

John’s Testimony

After a lifetime of drinking . . . of losing everything dear to me . . . and of not being able to think clearly about much of anything, I have finally chosen to allow God to take control of my life. And the first step toward that new life was coming to the Durham Rescue Mission in May of 2011.

For years I lived with nothing but noise in my head. I was a lost soul. But today I can say I’m like that lost sheep that was found. I’m learning what it means to have
a relationship with Jesus. Lies kept me in bondage . . . but God’s truth is setting me free.

For me, one of my strongest motivations for staying sober and living God’s way is my granddaughter. She was 3 months old when I first held her. That was also the last time I held her. Since then I’ve graduated the Victory Program, with my family present at the ceremony!  I now have reconciled and I have a great relationship with them. I want to be a good grandpa . . . and with God’s help I know I will be.
After graduation I worked for Temps to the Rescue, a temporary employment agency that partners with the Durham Rescue Mission to help the residents of the Mission find employment in the community.

Marcus Deese, the Temps to the Rescue director, approached me, in October 2013, about working at Durham Coca-Cola Bottling Company.  Through the Temps’ service I worked at Coca-Cola for 5 months and after that period I was hired full time on March 19, 2014.  All of this is truly a blessing from the Lord!

The Durham Rescue Mission has helped me become spiritually whole and gainfully employed.  God Bless the Durham Rescue Mission.
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Brandy Ammon 2

Brandy Ammons

Brandy’s Testimony

I came to the Durham Rescue Mission on April 17, 2011 after struggling for years with prescription drug abuse. My life was a complete mess.

I needed drugs to get up in the morning, to keep me up during the day, and then to help me sleep at night. Drugs were my life. If I didn’t have drugs I wouldn’t come out of my room.
My life was out of control.

The breaking point for me was the day I drove with my children in the car and I didn’t remember anything about that day, because of the drugs. By God’s grace we made it home safe. That was it, my family had seen enough. My husband told me it was time to get help and that if I didn’t it was going to cost me my family!

We were looking for a place that could help me quit using prescription drugs, instead of putting me on more. My husband reached out to our pastor for help. He told us about the Durham
Rescue Mission.

While at the Mission I received so much help. The counseling and Bible classes taught me how to be the kind of wife and mother that God called me to be. If it wasn’t for the Durham 522613_145409885606845_1693706797_nRescue Mission and the people that support it I don’t know where my family and I would be today. Coming to the Mission was the best decision I have made, outside of my salvation.

When my husband and pastor dropped me off at the Durham Rescue Mission I was crying because I didn’t want to stay. When my husband came to pick me up, after I finished the Victory Program, I was crying because I didn’t want to leave. However I did leave, and today the Lord is allowing me to help others usin969568_602711843079837_1498824933_ng some of the same lessons that I learned at the Durham Rescue Mission. I teach an addictions class every week in my church.

I will leave you with this, my son Joshua told me he didn’t like the “old” mommy, but he loves his “new” mommy. So my family and I thank you for being a tool that the Lord has used to change not just my life but my family’s life as well!
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Melvin-WrennMelvin Wrenn

Counselor for the Durham Rescue Mission Men’s Division

Melvin’s Testimony

Melvin’s addiction was affecting everyone in his family. That’s when he realized he needed help … and he found that help at the Durham Rescue Mission.


Before I came to the Durham Rescue Mission my life was spiraling downward out of control. I was deep in an alcohol and drug addiction that had been progressing for 35 years. I had tried several drug treatment programs, rehabs and going to church to try and fix myself and break away from the addictions. I was somewhat successful for short periods of time but I felt as though I was hanging on for dear life, never finding an answer or any real freedom or joy. When I was clean I was miserable.

When I went to jail for DWI’s and drug possession I knew that God was going to be instrumental in getting me clean, I just didn’t know how. I had a desire to learn more about the Bible after I read almost all of the Scriptures while serving four months in jail; I did not fully understand what I read nor was I able to apply it to my life, on my own. I had heard of the Victory Program at the Durham Rescue Mission from a cell mate. I decided that was what I wanted, to join the Victory Program.

When I arrived at the Durham Rescue Mission and enrolled in the Victory Program, I soon learned that drugs and alcohol were symptoms growing out of the root of my problem and the root of my problem was sin. Once I knew what the problem was, I finally found the answer in Jesus. The freedom that I was searching for was so beautifully spoken of by Jesus when He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Through learning of Jesus and giving my problems to Him, I felt as though my burden was lifted and the chains that I had been bound by had been broken.


I have a beautiful daughter-in-law that has completed the Victory Program. She is gainfully employed and growing spiritually each day. I also have a precious grandson here at the mission that is going to church with his mom and being reared in a Christian atmosphere.

I now work as a biblical counselor on staff at the Durham Rescue Mission and my misery has turned to joy. I look forward to going to work each day. My goal is to help others that are struggling as I did to find the answer, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
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184972_10151321044182792_677487894_nMike White

Victory Graduate, Works with Builders of Hope, First-Time Homeowner

Mike’s Testimony

Michael had a drug problem for many years. He couldn’t hold down a job and often stole from family and friends to support his drug addiction. In July 2007, Michael took his first step toward mending his shattered life. He came to the Durham Rescue Mission and joined the Victory Program. After completing the Durham Rescue Mission’s Victory Program, he was placed in a temporary job with Builders for Hope for a probationary period of one year.

295727_10151321044612792_1823148710_nThe Durham Rescue Mission staff and the staff at Builders of Hope came along side of Michael helping to guide and support him as he transitioned to gainful employment. During the probationary period, Michael stayed clean, went to work every day, and acquired a bank account. At the end of his probation, Michael was hired as a full-time employee with Builders of Hope. During his time at the Durham Rescue Mission, Michael was encouraged to save money for the day he was ready to leave the Mission and go out on his own.

Dr. Ernie Mills, CEO, Durham Rescue Mission said, “We are so thankful for the changes we have seen in Michael since he came through our program. Now, we are like proud parents for this milestone he has reached in his life of purchasing a home!” Nancy Welsh, CEO of Builders of Hope said, “Mike has been a terrific employee and we are proud of the work he has done and the man he has become. Kudos to Mike — a walking testimony to God’s faithfulness.”

561615_10151321044982792_1622616066_nAfter Michael was hired full-time, his supervisor told him about a house that Michael could bid on to purchase. Michael saw the house and knew he really wanted that house for his home. Because Michael had been saving money while at the Durham Rescue Mission, he was in a good position financially to purchase this home.

On Thursday, November 15, 2012, Michael signed the necessary papers and made his final down payment to purchase his own home. Dr. Aaron Gamble, a counselor at the Durham Rescue Mission Men’s Division, presented Michael with a check that included funds saved by Michael and matched by the Durham Rescue Mission.

Michael had lost his aunt, who had raised him. Before her death, Michael promised he would keep his life together. In memory of his aunt, Michael has moved into his own home and plans to continue working with Builders of Hope to help others.
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DSC_0046Billy Bullock

Purchasing Agent

Billy’s Testimony

“I was so messed up, I didn’t know what had hit me. I was a troubled young man, with a drug problem. Little did I know at the time, the Lord allowed that car to come smashing into me for a purpose.

When I woke up from the tragedy, I was facing a long rehabilitation period due to my badly broken leg. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, the doctors told me it would be about a year before I’d be able to go back to work. What was I to do? My parents were frustrated with me, so going home was out of the question. I was injured and homeless. One of the doctors knew about my situation and recommended the Durham Rescue Mission.

With no place to turn, I came to the mission. Here I found people who really cared for me. One night, the Mills took all the residents to a tent revival out in the country. It was there I heard about Jesus and how He died in my place to pay the penalty for my sins. That night, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior.

The longer I stayed at the mission, the more I grew in the Lord. Soon, I noticed Preacher Mills was giving me more responsibilities around the mission. I worked hard and did the best I could when he gave me a task. My hard work was rewarded. One day, in early 1992, Preacher Mills offered me a staff position at the Mission as the Purchasing Agent.

I count it a joy to be able to work where I can help other people who are facing problems similar to the ones I faced. The Lord has blessed me in many ways.

I’ve really been amazed at the improvements in the programs at the Mission and the way the ministry has grown over the years. I try really hard to make wise purchases and get the best prices I possibly can. Sometimes it is a real challenge, but since I am doing it for the Lord, I feel blessed and happy to be working here. Recently, I received my Bachelors Degree in Theology from Cedar Grove Baptist College. I am so thankful for God and his miraculous grace in my life to allow me to be an instrument in His hands!

As you read this testimony, my hope and prayer is it will be encouraging to those who support the ministries of the Durham Rescue Mission. I thank the Lord for each financial and prayer supporter. You have helped many others, like myself, to get their lives turned around and headed in the right direction. Thank you!”
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DSC_0021Lynn Holloway

Director of Education

Lynn’s Testimony

“When I was 5 years old, my father drove off, and I never saw him again. Mama raised four of us. Mama told me about God and His love. For a long time, we went to church, but once I got away from home, I stopped. I started to drink and use drugs.

DSC_0017It was as if I had forgotten God. When I got out of the Navy, I became a journeyman ironworker. I was married and had a baby girl. Things should have been great, but they were not.

With little money to my name, I began to use drugs more. I thought I was OK, but I was hooked. I got a reputation in the union as a junkie and could not keep a job. My marriage was ruined and for the next seven years, I chased after drugs.

Then on July 31, 1994, I was hit by a car. It was cold and dark; no one around. I began to pray ‘Lord, what am I doing?’ As I lay in the back of that ambulance, I asked God to save me from my sins. The next day, still without money or a place to go, I had a peace that I could not explain. The Lord had lifted a heavy burden from me.

In August 1994, at the Durham Rescue Mission, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. The Durham Rescue Mission helped me make Biblical changes that were needed in my life. Now at peace with God, and my addictions removed, I have no desire for drugs. I began studying the Word of God and helping other men at the Mission. What a joy it was to help others even as I had been helped!

In August 1996, I started as a full-time student at Piedmont Bible College. In 2003, I graduated with a BA in Missions.

The first time I came to the Durham Rescue Mission, they handed me a broom. When I came back after graduating, they gave me an office. I am now Director of Education, and I counsel using the Bible to help other men whom I can relate to, having walked in their shoes. Lynn Holloway sees his life now as one of learning to conform to the image of Christ. ‘I’m up in the morning thanking God, coming to work with a good attitude, a smile on my face, in good spirits, and with compassion for men and women.’ When they come with questions, we look to the Word of God for the best answer possible.

One of the reasons I want to stay in Missions is because I know I left some people out there where good lives are being destroyed and families being broken up. This is my way of helping.

I believe through the power of God He is using me to help others. Marriage is one way of helping others, which is a help to me and for me. God sent me a ‘ready-made family’ that was in need of a husband and a father. On the other hand, God has also provided me with the right help meet for support in the ministry that He has called me to. It is a win-win situation.

Talisha and I were married March 24, 2007. God said,’It is not good that the man should be alone…’ (Gen. 2:18). Talisha is a tremendous help to me both at home and in the ministry. Her presence in my life has allowed me to become more of a help to others far more than I could have ever imagined.”
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Victory Graduate

Shaunda’s Testimony

Shaunda struggled with addiction. She transformed her life through the Durham Rescue Mission Victory Program. Now she has returned home to her husband and has a second chance at life!

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Preston-JonesPreston Jones

Assistant Director of Men’s Division

Preston’s Testimony

“For over twenty years, I struggled with a crack cocaine addiction. Today, through the teaching of God’s Word, I have learned that my addiction was sin. At the core of addictions is selfishness and self–centeredness. Through the spiritual program here at the Mission, I have learned that through the application of the Word of God, God Himself leads me from sin on a daily basis.

On February 20, 2009, through the progress of spiritual growth, I became an apprentice at the Durham Rescue Mission. During my time at the Mission, I have completed the Victory Program, several computer classes, earned a diploma in Theology from Cedar Grove Bible College, and last summer, I completed the 13-week Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course.

February 21, 2011, after being the Head Encourager during my Apprenticeship, I became a full-time permanent staff member as a chaplain.

My wife of 28 years and I have reconciled since I have been at the mission. When I had completed my apprenticeship and became a staff member, I moved back home.

I describe myself this way — thankful for what God has done for me through the Mission, but not impressed with myself. Paul said it best, ‘Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’

In September 2011, Mr. Cole, Director of the Men’s Division, became ill. During his sickness and until his death, I was able to serve the Durham Rescue Mission as acting Director. In February 2012, during my one-year evaluation, I was officially named Chaplain Preston Jones, Assistant Director.

My wife and I attend Lighthouse Baptist Church where I have been attending since 2008. I have now earned an Associate in Theology, and I continue to work on my NANC counseling certification. I thank God daily for the Mills, the staff here at the Mission, and all of my new associations in the ministry.”
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Douglas, Tom(1)Tom Douglas

Victory Graduate

Tom’s Testimony

“Tuesday, September 11, 2001 — do you remember where you were when you heard or saw on television that terrorists had hit the World Trade Center? I will never forget this black day because I was on the streets of New York City looking at the twin towers as the second plane flew with disgusting determination into a building full of civilians. The overall shock of this event still haunts me, along with the nauseating truth that some of my very close friends had died. Instantly, I was changed as I watched this vile act occur before my very eyes.

Through God’s grace and mercy, and the help of Rev. and Mrs. Mills and all the staff at the Durham Rescue Mission, I have become a reborn man in Christ. I am ready to serve Him in any way I can. Praise the Lord!

Up to this point, my life was typical of someone who focused on materialism. I began my career by attending Manhattan College, where I graduated with a BA in Marketing. I worked as a sales executive in the clothing and apparel industry for over 27 years, in New York City and Dallas, TX. During all this time, I drank socially. I was able to function at a high level of competency and thankfully never lost a job. In 1998, with my family raised, I chose to move into a semi-retired position, at the age of 52. I began driving a limousine in the New York Metropolitan area and continued this job until 2001, at which time I witnessed the attacks on the WTC.

The overall shock of seeing and hearing the WTC attacks, coupled with flashbacks of Vietnam and the death of my friends, I found it easy to become a full-time alcoholic with no desire to stop. I soon found myself in North Carolina and for the next three years, my dependency on alcohol increased. I had no desire to work. I lost everything I had in this world: my family, my job, my home, and my dignity. I actually spent 60 days in late 2005 living in my car. Finally, I was arrested on October 31, 2005, and by the mercy and grace of God, and through the compassion of a kind police officer, I was sent to Veteran’s Hospital in Durham instead of jail.

While in the hospital, the chaplain reached out to me and shared the love of God and His plan of salvation. At first, I wasn’t interested, but slowly I began to peek into the Bible he had left for me. One morning, very early, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. Since I asked for forgiveness of my sins, every day I submit to His Lordship of my life. I am a ‘saved’ Christian!

After 30 days, I was released from the hospital. I found myself homeless, without even my car in which I had been living. I had no idea where to go; I felt so alone and hopeless. The counselor gave me bus fare to get to the Durham Rescue Mission. As I waited for the bus in front of the VA Hospital, I actually considered throwing myself in front of the bus as I stood on the street crying. I was a new Christian and had much to learn about God and His love for me. Thankfully, He was already guiding my steps — I just didn’t know it!

When I arrived at the Durham Rescue Mission, I stood at the entrance crying. I wondered what would become of me. I had gone from having the world, to only having the clothing on my back, which the hospital and a kind nurse had given to me. My fears were soon gone. I was immediately welcomed into the mission. Very soon, my hopelessness was replaced with a great sense of hope. God had brought me to the place where I needed to be to get the help I desperately needed. My life began to change slowly at first. My dignity was restored and I regained my self-respect. The mission provided me with a roof over my head, food, and clothing, enabling me to begin the long journey of restoring my life. But the greatest thing I received was the good news of God’s love.

After coming to the Durham Rescue Mission, I found out about the ‘Victory Program’ and I applied for admittance. It turned out to be a great decision for me. The Bible study strengthened my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
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William-HendersonWilliam Henderson

Durham Rescue Mission Development Department Senior Office Clerk

William’s Testimony

“My life has not been perfect, and it took a lot for me to realize that. I grew up with a good childhood and went to church. Later on, I got to an age where I thought I could make decisions on my own, but everything started to go downhill from there. My parents had high expectations of me because they knew I could do it, but I did enough just to graduate high school.

Once I graduated and started working, I spent time with a group of people that my parents did not approve of. I then began a life of smoking and drugs. After a while, my father found out what I was doing, and that was the breaking point; I had to move out. So the next morning, I packed my bags and left with nowhere to stay or lay my head. Within the next week, I found a place to stay, but the people there were doing the same things that had gotten me thrown out of my father’s house. I moved to Chicago. It was okay for a while, until I knew where all the drug spots were. On top of that, I started drinking. God allowed me to get to the worst point in my life before things got better. I knew I needed help but I did not know where to start.

I was told about Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, and I went there that night. I went through the one-year Bible program they had, and I was saved November 26, 2005. I graduated from the program and even got a job. Unfortunately, I did not apply all of what I learned while I was in the program at the Chicago rescue mission and started going backwards. After I lost my job, I was back at square one again. I then moved back to North Carolina.

While staying with family, I tried searching for a job but every place I went told me they were not hiring. So after awhile of no income and not being able to contribute to the bills, I had to find a place to stay. On June 26, 2010 I came to the Durham Rescue Mission.

At first, I was unsure of my surroundings or if I was even going to stay. But before I knew it, in September of 2011 I graduated from the Victory Program. In March of 2012 I was put on payroll in the Development Department as a Data Entry Clerk. And on July 23, 2012 I was given the opportunity to join the Apprenticeship Program at the Durham Rescue Mission. I also work locally at Quintiles, a Pharmaceutical company in Durham.

I enjoy working with the staff at the Durham Rescue Mission! I am grateful to work with a group of believers who can help me stay accountable.

God has allowed me to move forward in serving him faithfully and given me a life where I can be a blessing to others, in addition to my family. I learned to take it one day at a time and do what I can for God. I am truly grateful for the Durham Rescue Mission and for Dr. and Mrs. Mills to have the heart to help others like me.

UPDATE: On July 23, 2014, after completing the 2 year apprenticeship program, William  joined the Durham Rescue Mission as a full-time staff member. William is working as the Senior Office Clerk in the Development department. Tony Gooch, Director of Development Operations, said “It has been an honor seeing William grow over the past 4 years. I feel blessed to have William as a staff member and I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to grow in the Lord”. Congratulations William!
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Terry 1Terry Ferris

Victory Graduate/Works in Development Data Entry Office

Terry’s Testimony

“I can remember as a child growing up in a home with an alcoholic father — I’d think to myself that I’ll never be like that. I resented my father for taking away part of my life because I had to fulfill some of the things he should have been doing.

When I became of age, I got a good job as a custom picture framer and soon became a master craftsman. I was very close to my boss; I guess because he took the place of loving me like my father should have. I became very successful at what I was doing and made good money.

I’d already been drinking and drugging recreationally since high school, and now I had the means to do whatever I wanted. Unfortunately, I got into night clubs. My drinking and sinful lifestyle soon became more than I could handle. I maxed out credit cards, borrowed without paying back, and missed so much time from work; it wasn’t long before my world came tumbling down.

After losing my job, my license, and most of my friends, I fell into a state of depression that I remained in, on medication, for over 15 years. While in the state hospital at Butner, I met someone who had been to the Durham Rescue Mission, and he described the Victory Program to me. I said to myself that sounds just like what I need.

I came to the Durham Rescue Mission on April 14, 2007 and accepted the Lord in my life that following Sunday, April 15, 2007. I struggled to adapt at first, but then I entered the Victory Program and graduated in October of 2008. Things have not been the same since.

I now realize I was always focused on the wrong things in life. I was looking for satisfaction, and all I found was emptiness. That’s why I like the verse, Psalm 119:37: ‘Take away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.’ Now I have promise and the prospect for a bright future, and it’s all because of what the Lord has done and your generous support.

I now look to the Lord for guidance daily, and I suppose you could say I’ve gone from being a master craftsman to being in the Master’s hand, and I have all of you to thank. God bless you and remember there are others like me that need our help.”
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DSC_0055Dave Lowry

Victory Graduate, Maintenance Director of the Good Samaritan Inn

Dave’s Testimony

“At the early age of 24, I was diagnosed as a chronic alcoholic. In 1998, having lost all ties with family and friends, I entered the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle, WA, out of sheer necessity. I am thankful for the programs at the Mission and the help that I received from them.

In 2001, my ex-wife, whom I had not seen in 12 years, called me from Greenville, NC. She said she would like to see me so that I might get reacquainted with my son, Eric. I arrived in Greenville thinking I could go through the VA training program, but was very disappointed to find out the only VA training program was in Durham. After moving to Durham, I was told it would be a while before I could get into one of their programs. My money was running out, and I had to find somewhere to stay. I was looking for a drug/alcohol-free environment because I did not want to be around that temptation, and that’s when I found the Durham Rescue Mission!

DSC_0058I needed a place I could stay until the VA training program opened up for me. However, after being at the Mission 60 days, I started the Victory Program. This is a year-long, life-changing program that taught me the Word of God and how to apply Biblical principles to my life. I graduated from the Victory Program and continued working maintenance around the mission. I have 24 years experience in maintenance and repair. When I was in the Navy, I was trained in welding and have the NEC (Naval Educational Code) welding certification, and these skills have certainly come in handy around the Mission. Through the Durham Rescue Mission’s scholarship program, I have completed electrical and HVAC courses that have helped me in my job here at the Mission. I eventually went into the Mission’s Apprenticeship Program (a two-year training program that can lead to a full-time staff position at the Mission). I have completed that program, and now I am the Maintenance Director at the Good Samaritan Inn, the Mission’s shelter for women and children!

Mr. Woodard has had a big influence in my life. He has not only taught me how to do many things around the mission, but has also showed me what it is to be a true man of God. I am very grateful for my friendship with Mr. Woodard!

It is such a blessing to work at the Mission because every day, I can see the Lord working in the lives of others. It is so inspiring as I see the lives of people who were struggling with addictions, as I did, change.

I am grateful for the safe haven I found at the Durham Rescue Mission. The Mission has not only given me moral support and training, but has also taught me how to improve my relationship with the Lord, and for this I am grateful.”
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Norvel-LewisNorvel Lewis

Durham Rescue Mission Thrift Store Manager

Norvel’s Testimony

“I was around 5 years of age when my mother gave me up to foster care. Life was tough for me at a young age. Having to grow up in foster homes, I never felt I was like other kids. I felt I had to hide this fact in order to be accepted and to fit in.


Foster parents never let me forget that I should be thankful for anything they did for me or gave me. They made it quite clear that I was different from their own children. This only reinforced my insecurities.

When I reached my teen years, my environment became so oppressive, I felt my only escape was to join the military. I had a moderately successful career and even got married. During this time, I began to use drugs and alcohol. I was unable to handle the pressures of marriage, military and substance abuse. So I was eventually discharged from the Army for drug use, and then was separated and divorced from my wife.

I lost everything and felt abandoned by everyone. The next 18 years were spent in and out of different programs and in and out of homelessness, finally culminating in going to prison for obtaining property under false pretences.

While in prison, and feeling what a waste my life had become, some Christian brothers reached out to me. They showed me care, concern and love. They didn’t care whether I grew up in foster homes. They didn’t condemn me for getting kicked out of the service or not maintaining my marriage. I was beginning to feel what acceptance felt like.

Through fellowship with them and reading the Bible, I came to understand the battle that had been raging in me my whole life.

After learning that Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins, I came to know Jesus as the Lord of my life and the Savior of my soul. That I could start fresh was just what I needed to hear.

Though I only had four and a half months to serve, I was in no hurry to go back to the old environment I had left. I knew that I needed structure and guidance in order to start rebuilding my life. Along with many other organizations, I wrote the Durham Rescue Mission asking for help.

God answered my prayers. The prison van let me off at the front gate. With the counsel of Mr. Cole, my pastor, Rev. Gamble, and the Victory Program, God has blessed me with the opportunity to rebuild my life. I have a warm, dry place to live and plenty to eat, unlike many times in the past. The Mission has provided not only an opportunity to work and save money, but also much needed spiritual guidance that will help me make good choices, and be a contributor to society, not a burden.

Today, I am thankful to be working as the manager of the Durham Rescue Mission’s Brier Creek Thrift Store. I am happily married and enjoy attending my home church with my family. I am so thankful that others cared enough for a fellow who grew up in foster care thinking no one cared, and gave me the opportunity to have my shattered life mended.”
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Delma Woodson 1Delma Woodson

Victory Graduate

Delma’s Testimony

“I had found out about the Mission in 2009 and stayed for two months. I had been addicted to drugs and alcohol and left the Mission going back to my own ways. I stayed away from the Mission for about four months and returned in November of the same year.

I was tired of living the life I had been living; it was a dead end road. I was spiritually and physically sick. I didn’t know till the second time that I came back that this was where God wanted me to be. I also brought my daughter, Miracle, with me when I returned. It was a tough journey, though. But through prayer and help from the staff and the Mills at the Mission and just being obedient to God, I was able to overcome the temptations.

Being at the Mission, I became a supervisor and an encourager working with the ladies and just trying to be faithful to the Lord, to stay on the path He had for me. The drugs and the alcohol were only going to lead to destruction, jail, or even worse. But I stayed faithful to God and wanted to make my life better for myself and Miracle. The best thing to do was to stay clean, and thus far, I’ve been clean one year and two months.

During the time when I had a position as a supervisor at the Mission, I was taking a class on sharing the plan of salvation. One day, Miracle told me that she did not believe God loved her. As soon as I heard her say that, I told her, ‘Yes He does,’ and I led my baby to accept Christ as her Savior.

Right now, Miracle and I live in a new apartment. We’ve been here a little over a month. I’ve been working at Roses Department store for about six months now, and I am close to getting a management position. I thank God for all He has done.”
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