Lives Restored: Durham Rescue Mission Testimonies

John Davis  Christopher Wallace  Sheila Wilder  Alex Winn  Mark Donnelly  Tywone McGeachy  I  Will Baker  I 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 Marcum  I  Preston Jones  I  Tom Douglas  I  William Henderson  I  Terry Ferris  I  Dave Lowry  I  Norvel Lewis  I  Delma Woodson


John Davis

John Davis

Victory Program Student

John’s Testimony

As a young child, my grandparents had a great influence on my life, especially when it came to a religious lifestyle. They instilled in me that I should go to church on Sunday morning and evening, and Wednesday night. I wanted to grow up and be like my grandfather.

My parents were divorced when I was about 7 years old. My mom being stuck in her addiction and guilt was absent for the majority of my adolescent years. My father was a great provider and I would say I grew up a privileged child.

I’ve always been a big-hearted individual that wears his heart on his sleeves. I tend to set myself up for either getting hurt or for failure. I tend to always see the best in people ad always try to lift their spirits up. I do this by giving people my undivided attention, and just listening to their problems. In doing this I end up putting my personal issues on the back burner. And this causes me to fall back into my struggle with addiction. I would go back to self-medicating with the illegal use of marijuana, benzodiazepines, and opiates (the one I had the most struggle with).

I was introduced to illegal substances (marijuana) at the age of 14. I was at a high school party where all the popular kids would drop in and congregate to recreationally consume drugs and alcohol. As we walked down the driveway, the aroma of marijuana and alcohol entrapped my nostrils with the smell of a good time. As soon as we entered the party, our intentions were doing the exact opposite of the way our parents had raised us. I made a beeline for the alcohol and knew that “tonight would be a night to remember.” One cup turned into copious amounts of beer and that was the night my life took a turn that led to an everlasting, revolving door known as ADDICTION.

In addition to being addicted i had begun to sell marijuana. At the time it seemed like the best “get rich easy scheme.” This led to numerous nights when I had to sleep with one eye open for the fear of the Narcotic Taskforce team.

At the age of 19, I had been indicted on 16 counts of felonies which came from the distribution of narcotics.  I was held under a $350,000 bond, but went right back to what I’d been doing and awaited trial. I was sentenced to 27 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections and was taken to Polk Youth Correctional Facility in Butner. After serving my sentence I returned home in search of a new beginning; but faced the same struggles and demons. Before I knew it my old life had a grip on me again.

In 2015, I had retained some new charges due to the distribution of illegal substances. At this point, I was trying to fill a void in my life with money, power, and women. I was making a lot of money, but I was never truly fulfilled with happiness or peace in my heart.

I remember staring up at the ceiling as I sat in the county jail and thinking that I was tired of living a life consumed with jail stays and periods of being on probation. I picked up the Bible that I had received from the chaplain and began reading the book of John and Matthew (only because my name is John Matthew Davis).  As I read, the Holy Spirit began convicting me of the life that I was living. I dropped onto my knees and began to pray and bargain with God. I promised to give my life to Him if He helped me through the trial this time. The next day, I was placed on probation for 15 months and also had to attend a year-long program. I chose to attend the Durham Rescue Mission.

I’d heard about The Durham Rescue Mission for the first time while I was an inmate in the Orange County Jail. Allison, a caseworker, told me about the men and women who had been able to turn their lives around with the help of the Mission’s victory Program. I knew I needed a spiritually-based program because I knew only God could fix and change my life forever. I was released from jail on 9th of July 2018 and was very eager to begin my new path in life, one that would better my life for my friendships and relationships.

I was riding with my job assignments supervisor, Joel Dedic, one day; when he asked if I wanted to be 100% sure that I would go to heaven if I were to die right then. He then began to share the Gospel with me. I prayed out loud and right there in the parking lot of Home Depot in Durham on the 21st of August, 2018 I became a new man and was born again. The things that once weighed me down and held me back from moving forward in my life had departed, and I felt like I was walking on clouds because of the insurmountable weight that had been lifted from my shoulders.

Because of the rumors I’d heard around campus, I thought the Victory Program was going to be very tough. As time went on and I finished the first module, I realized I was getting the hang of things. The module from the book of James answered a lot of my questions about why I wasn’t getting along in life. Through the Victory Program I learned to not ask God for things in vain, it helped me self-evaluate myself and figure out the key to my problems (MYSELF), I realized that I had to make God everything and myself nothing, and I also learned how to submit myself to God’s will for my life and become the ambassador he has called me to be. I was also convicted to go back and ask for forgiveness from the many friends and family relationships I had destroyed.

I’m so thankful for the way God has blessed me through the Durham Rescue Mission and for giving me another chance at life. I am so grateful for all the people involved with the ins and outs of this program. This program has strengthened me to saturate myself in the love letter and instruction manual God has given us, which is the BIBLE. My life went from living for the things of this world to living for God’s will for my life.

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Christopher Wallace

Christopher Wallace

Victory Graduate, Currently at Navy’s Recruit Training Command

Chris’ Testimony

In a few days, I’ll be going into the Navy. I’m going to be doing logistics specialists for submarines. I decided to go into the Navy because i wanted to change my life and see the world and learn new things.  The Durham Rescue Mission helped me to create a foundation for myself, and it gave me confidence in myself to pursue the military.

Going into the Navy was something I always wanted to do, but I kind of lost my way because I  didn’t know if it was possible for me;  but the Durham Rescue Mission gave me the courage to do it. I’m looking to be in the Navy for five years starting out; but, if I like it, then I’ll stay longer and make a career out of it.

My other options are to pursue college if the Navy doesn’t work out or while I’m in the Navy to build skill sets—so trade skills, culinary classes, language… all of that stuff.

My encouragement to anyone that’s given up or have lost hope is to just keep pushing forward, never give up. It gets better; I promise you. I was in that position for a long time. But just keep pursuing your goals, keep building your faith, and keep understanding what you are. It all starts with knowing your weaknesses; then you can build on your strengths.

I would recommend the Mission for anyone that wants to change their life because it is somewhere that you can use as a grounds to build a foundation. However, you need to be willing to seek that help. They don’t just give it to you. You need to have a hunger to improve.

Chris left for the Navy’s Recruit Training Command on June 9, 2019. He is scheduled to graduate in mid-August.

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Sheila Wilder

Victory Program Student

Sheila’s Testimony

I was raised up in church, which my Daddy never went. It was a good childhood. I can’t fault them for anything because my raisers were good. It was good intentions. Seeing my dad drinking made it hard for me not to follow in his footsteps. It was just something I enjoyed doing and so I followed in his footsteps anyway. Now here I am.

I was working for the State. I worked for the Department of Public Instruction in Raleigh, then i worked for the Department of Transportation. I would go, I would sober up, and get a job. I would stay sober for three years or something like that; then i would start dabbing in again. I would take my problems to work as far as going to the bathroom and snorting cocaine. It all began again and I lost my job. It got to the point where I just couldn’t keep a job. For the last 20 years I haven’t really done anything, but drink and drug.

I was at the Mission once before, but I was not going to abide by the rules at all. I had my own rules. I didn’t last very long because I got written up all the time. So, I did what I’ve always done. I ran. I left again. I went straight back  to what I had been doing—drinking and drugging again. I don’t know exactly how long I was gone  this time. It was probably six months or so.

Then I started getting sick. I just could not hold my alcohol. I knew something was wrong with me, but I continued to drink because I thought it would make me feel better. It didn’t! So I went to detox and this time it was to make it work. Because I knew that I could not have done it by myself; I didn’t know where to start. It had been so long since I’d been sober that I had no clue how to get a job, or even how to talk to people.

When I first started the victory program I was so nervous about everything, but those six months went by so fast. You learn so much in those classes. A whole lot more than what I’d thought it was going to be. I’m a little nervous about getting back out in the world once this is over. It seems like the Lord has worked for me so much. Things have fallen in my way.
For the near future I plan to be here. I don’t plan to g out there and work. I really enjoy what I’m doing here; the environment is really great. And I believe I will make is as long as I stick with the family I’ve got here.

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Alex Winn Alex Winn

Victory Graduate, Currently a Student at Duke

Alex’s Testimony

Alex was raised in a loving, churchgoing family. He was a model student, and graduated valedictorian of his high school. He was voted class president, and earned a full scholarship to Duke University to study medicine and business. Everything about Alex’s life seemed ideal.

But the peer pressure of teenage years and a desire to fit in with the “cool” crowd was taking its toll. What started with half a beer turned into a bottle of vodka under his pillow. He moved from smoking cigarettes to hiding in his dorm room for days under the effects of ecstasy, LSD, and cocaine. His drug and alcohol use became so severe he eventually left college and returned home.

Once home, his addictions escalated. Alex stole from family. He lied and cheated to avoid sobriety. He damaged so many relationships that he wound up homeless, living in his car.

One night he called his grandmother for help. She suggested going to the Durham Rescue Mission. He ignored the idea, but after a heavy snowstorm he knew he couldn’t survive alone. So, he came to the Mission and asked for help.

What he found were role models — others who had been where he was. However, they were rebuilding their lives with God’s help and the Mission. It reminded him of his teenage years when he followed others to be “cool.” However, this time he was inspired to heal and recover.

Alex started working as a sorter of donated clothing, but as he gained victory in his addictions, he began working for the director of education, and then the donor relations office. He discovered his strength, ambition, and dignity returning. He began feeling like  a useful member of society again.

When the time came to pursue his dreams again, Alex reapplied to Duke — and was awarded another full scholarship to complete his studies. This January,  Alex started his new semester of studies.

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Mark Donnelly

Mark’s Testimony

I have a great Irish-Catholic family and I had a good childhood. My parents were hardworking and always found a way to make life enjoyable. All my siblings seemed to enjoy a good laugh, except my brother Mike. He was born with physical problems. His right arm was deformed and he was known to have seizures. He was nice enough most of the time, but every now and then, he would have major attitude. I remember being taught that working is a part of life. My first paying job was with my brother Paul to mow lawns.

When I was sixteen I worked at a liquor distributor company owned by my neighbor. I would drive the merchandise we couldn’t sell to the dump. Before long I figured out how to hide the bottles of alcohol in a ditch and come back for them after work. I would store then in my car and trade the alcohol for marijuana with my classmates.

I met Mandy while I was living in Manhattan, Kansas. We moved in together after several months of dating. She was beautiful, but she had a lot of hurt and regrets. She tried to fix them by self-medicating. She was an alcoholic and an addict. She was into a drug culture that I had always stayed away from.

One day Mandy asked me to go to a Pentecostal Holiness Church service with her. While at the service, she and I both surrendered our lives to God. She then told me that the desires to drink alcohol and do cocaine had been taken away. We were married two months after that.

Mandy lived her Christian walk the way she lived in the world. All out! We got to share in at least half a dozen people making Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. We moved on from the Pentecostal church and began to attend a non-denominational church. Life was great and we had managed to stay alcohol and drug free for the next three years. We had three children; Matthew, Malisa, and Michael.  Michael’s birth had complications and the drug Mandy was given to stop labor pains had side effects. When Michael was six months old, we found out he had cerebral palsy.

Mandy had a lot of anger towards me. I think back and I still don’t understand it. My conclusion, right or wrong, was that we had thought that making Jesus the center of our lives, life would be perfect; it definitely wasn’t. The one thing that rings in my mind is her saying, “you were supposed to be perfect!” Well, I could never fill that expectation. I had picked up smoking because of her and she had gone back to drinking because of my selfishness. It wasn’t long before I realized she was better without me and left.

After moving back to Kansas, I met Cindy. Cindy had two daughters and was very good to me. We were married within a year of meeting. My children didn’t like her very much and were always rude and disrespectful towards her. We were only married for five years. We had a disagreement about Matthew and his pregnant girlfriend and she realized that she deserved to be treated better. I realize now that I made a mistake and nothing but God should be put before your wife. Cindy moved on with her life with her daughters and did not include me.

A doctor had prescribed Zanex and RhemRhon when I was going through my divorce with Cindy. I was so depressed that for several months all I did was go to work, come home and drink! After about eight years I tried to get off these medications. My doctor changed my Zanex prescription to Lolanipens. I had decided to get off RhemRohn during Christmas, but the withdrawals were crazy. I then decided to go to rehab in Florida. While there, they also took me off benzos. The withdrawals were more intense than I had expected. I tried to go back to work after thirty days, but ended up back in Florida. I was fired for missing too many days and also lost my house. I decided to move to Florida for good. I went a little crazier and became suicidal. I checked into a mental hospital where i got better because they put me back on benzos. They wouldn’t give me a script for them because I had been addicted. This began a trend of being in and out of mental hospitals. I moved back to Kandas and this trend continued. At one of the facilities I was treated for UTI and this seemed to clear it up and I was on my way to getting better.

I moved to Raleigh and my son, Mike, made arrangements at a facility for me. My major hurdle now was benzos withdrawal. The facility released me with no money and I was still unable to go back to work. during this time, the Durham Rescue Mission became my refuge. I have now been at the Durham Rescue mission for six months. After two months I was taken off all psych meds. Now I’m finishing up the classroom part of their Victory Program. I will now start looking for work. I hope now to become a fully functioning member of society. Thank God for the Durham Rescue Mission.

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Tywone McGeachy

Tywone’s Testimony

I was raised by my mom and didn’t really know my dad. I didn’t have the best childhood and developed a distrust towards adults very earl in life. My mom had an on-and-off relationship with a guy named Chris. My siblings and I were used and abused by this guy when my mom wasn’t around. My mom treated me like an inconvenience; therefore, I didn’t think she would believe me if I told her. For years I endured this abuse. Life was depressing, I didn’t feel loved, and all around me was death. At one point, it seemed like everyone I knew was dying.

Going into high school I was very confused about my sexuality. I was struggling to figure out who I was. When I was in 11th grade, I had started to undergo hormone replacement therapy. This was the first time I felt like I was doing something for me and only me. Even then, I wasn’t completely happy. I tried to commit suicide when I was in 11th grade. I left school, packed my bags and left home for a new start, and I changed my name to “Star.” I shared an apartment with another transgender person who I observed and tried to learn from.

My life was messed up. I self-medicated to feel and show love while filming. To me that was the only way I could portray that emotion.

I was never around Christian values, but I knew that my grandmother prayed and went to church. Personally I didn’t know anything about God. I remember saying prayer sometimes, but I didn’t know where or to whom those prayers were going.

The day I truly called on God, I was sitting under a bridge depressed and hurting; I just wanted my life to end at that moment, didn’t care how it ended, just as long as it ended. I sat by myself with one bar on my cell phone, I had no drinking water, no clothes but the ones I left home wearing, no food and I just felt sick. I started crying uncontrollably and hitting myself; all the while asking God to help me.  I cried myself to sleep under that bridge. I woke up the next morning with a mission to find nearest church that was open. I ended up at First Baptist Church and met a little frill lady who sat down with me and listen as I cried and talked. She showed me a folder with names of agencies that offered Christian based programs.

On a cold December morning of 2017, I walked into the front door of the Durham Rescue Mission and turned over my own self will; and in a small office off from the chapel, I surrendered my body, my mind, and all that I was in repentance to God. Because of God, I learned how to be a caring human being, an attentive student, a better son, brother, and uncle. I learned to walk different, talk different, to be a gentleman, a loyal Christian, more alert and on point, and how to manage my money.

Sometimes I look at my life as a puzzle with a thousand pieces that seem to take forever to put together. I don’t like to be that, but it is. My grandmother once told me that, “water doesn’t do nothing but rust iron and keep scales on fish.” the older I got, the more sense it made to me. She was telling me to grow up, and I could do anything or be somebody through Christ Jesus.

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Will Baker

Will’s Testimony

My dad was a cop and I lost my mom to breast cancer. I had one younger brother who shot himself at a relatively young age. My brother and I had gotten involved in drugs and alcohol while we were teenagers despite my dad’s efforts to keep us away from it.

After my dad remarried, I was sent to live with my Me-Maw because of my antics. i did not like my Dad’s new wife and was doing everything to drive her away. My Me-Maw spoiled me to no end. She was a Christian and a very hard worker. Although she didn’t agree with me smoking cigarettes, she would buy them fro me on occasion. She encouraged me to do right, but let me do whatever I wanted to do without pushing me too much. My Me-Maw saw something good in me and had faith that I would be alright once I straightened up my act.

My family didn’t care much that I drank, but the amount of alcohol I was consuming was becoming a problem. Everything began to spiral out of control and I spent the last part of my addiction years in total isolation. I was still trying to do things my own way.  I almost died in a motel due to overdose, but they were able to revive me. After a 3 weeks stay in the hospital I decided I needed to become sober. So taking the doctor’s recommendation I went to a rehab facility in Louisiana. I decided to stay in Baton Rouge because the program was working for me. I finished the 12 step program and decided to run my own sober living house in order to “pass it forward” the last step of the program.

I met a preacher, a tall Lumbee Indian, who preached a small church. He had been a Marine and used to struggle with drug and alcohol problems before he’d surrendered his life to the Lord. This man gave me hope that I could change. I began to attend his church quite regularly with my mom and had a lifelong friendship with the preacher.

Even though I had done so much wrong in my life, I know Jesus had another purpose for me. I knew that it was God all along who had spared my life, but I never could figure out why. Now, I know that He just had a different plan for my life. Today, I’m very grateful and truly blessed!

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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.

UPDATE: 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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Shaunda Marcum

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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