page-image-rich.jpgIt was the dead of winter and I couldn't feel my toes. Homeless in the small town of Boardman, Oregon, I sat outside with an empty beer bottle in one hand... a rock in the other. I thought to myself, "Maybe it will be easier this way," as I eyed the cold veins that were fueling the engine which pushed me through this miserable existence. I'd had it all: wads of money, a house, a boat - everything supplied to live a "happy" life, but I never felt satisfied. There was always something missing. My mother passed away when I was thirteen, from alcohol, and right then I swore I would never follow down that path. I would know better than that; oh, but here I am.

Two years have passed; two clean and sober years since that wave of despair left me washed up on the Mission's doorstep. Two years of chapel services two times a day has equaled out around seven hundred and thirty or so sunrises and sunsets filled with the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. This is the love that has moved me from a bitter to a better man, the same love that has satisfied my cravings and inspired me to become a living testament of its power. It's the power of the love of Jesus Christ that can take a sick, lost soul and transform it into a loving and peaceful disciple with the capacity to inspire another in the same exact way. The blessings that God provided and still provides in my life since I handed it all to him are amazing! "You can't stay here." "But..." I paused as I looked up into the faces of two policemen, "Where am I supposed to go?" Looking back, what they were telling me almost meant more than what I understood back then when they replied, "I don't know, but you can't stay here." I had some friends in the area, so I quietly moved along. I remember that cold February night so clearly, even with the beer that was in me. I remember the fifty minute drive to Pasco in which every mile marker we overtook made the feeling of despair more explicit, as if somewhere inside of me I had been holding it back but my arms were slowly giving out. I remember as my friend pulled the car up to the doors of the homeless shelter, it hit me: I am the lowest I've ever been. The wave of despair overcame me in that moment, though little did I know that God had brought me here. This was only the beginning for the wonderful things He would do in my life.

It took me awhile to warm up to the programs and the people at the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission. I only believe half of what I read and not everything that I hear, but as time passed the truth of the goodness of what was going on at the Mission was revealed to me and I decided to make the commitment to join the New Life Program. I struggled with the commitment at first, but after awhile I started getting more into the homework and actually enjoyed the wonderful classes that were taught by Mark Heritage (our Chaplain). That's when it began to happen: people started to notice that I was doing well and they would tell me that they could see a transformation in my life! It was around that time that I met my pastor through a fellow New Life programmer. A few weeks after talking with him and receiving the invitation to come to his church, Pasco Nazarene, I decided to go. Once I met the people there and felt the love that they shared I realized that all the time I had felt empty, all I had needed was love. The love of Jesus Christ. It's a wonderful thing.

Rich has since secured a house to live in once he feels that he is completely ready to take the next step in his life, he has participated in a work mission to aid poverty in Honduras, was recently baptized after giving his testimony at his church, and continues to spread the love of Jesus Christ through his words and his actions. God is good.