"My name is Vernon and on March 26, 2012, I was arrested for possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell and use. While waiting for arraignment, I cried out to God and He answered me by allowing me to be released and placed on a pre-trial release. At that time, I entered the Gospel Rescue Mission trying to hide out from the people I owed money to.
While at GRM, I started to pray that God would get me out of this once again, but for the first time I cried out to Him with all my heart, spirit and soul. He was faithful to answer my plea once more. As I was waiting on my court date, I asked about entering the Life Foundation Restoration Program and was accepted (not knowing if I would be able to even start or finish it). But for the first time in a long time, I started to trust that God would take care of everything.
I was truly sick and tired of the life I was living. I had been using drugs to escape and for the first time in a long time, I found peace and rest. GRM was a place where I fitted right in and could be myself, where I didn’t have to wear the many masks that I had developed all my life.
On the day that I had to go to court, the GRM Senior Chaplain, went with me. When we arrived, we couldn’t find a place to park and I was nervous that I would be late and get the maximum sentence. This would be my 3rd felony conviction for possession with intent to sell, which in the state of Arizona means a mandatory prison sentence of 5-15 years. When we did find a place to park, we realized that between the two of us we didn’t have enough change for the meter. Sitting there trying to figure out what to do next, a man came and told us to take his parking spot cause he still had an hour left on his meter. As the man and the Senior Chaplin where changing places, I stood on the side walk praying. A man walked by and I asked him how he was and he told me he was blessed and highly favored. I told him I was too and that we know one another by the Spirit. The man replied, “You are right and the next time we will see each other will be in heaven.” A cold chill ran up my back and today I believe it was an angel of the Lord coming to bring me a favorable answer from God.
When we reached the courthouse, my lawyer wasn’t there and I kept thinking it was because I was going to prison for a long time and that was why she wasn’t there. When my lawyer did show up and we sat there waiting for my case number to be called, I watched as the judge handed out massive amounts of times and fines. The judge had this stone look on his face that said “I’m not playing” and my faith was really shaken. My case was the last case of the day and as I came forward, the judge sat back and a calm smile came over his face. As he started reading the charges, I told God that no matter what would happen that I would still serve Him. At that moment, the judge picked up his pen and changed the charges from felony possession to attempted to possess, which allowed him to be able to sentence me to probation of 18 months. I still believe it was a sentence from God and His way of telling me that play time was over. He was truly revealing himself to me and that he would do as he promised to do for me if I chose to follow His plan for my life, which was to serve and obey Him.
So today, I choose to serve Him and do His will for my life to the best of my ability. I had a slip up while I was at GRM and when I did, the feeling of being apart from God was unexplainable. The shame and guilt that I felt that day is a feeling I never want to feel in my life again. I now attend Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church where I can freely worship God just the way I am.
During my time in the program Life Foundation Restoration Program, I started working with the Gospel Rescue Mission's Mobile Kitchen and Mobile Clothing Closet. Getting involved in the outreach ministry at GRM gave me a new outlook on life, instead of destroying lives, I was helping others who were in need. It also got me out of being selfish and self-centered and allowing God to use me to minister to others. On December 16, 2012, I graduated the Life Foundation Restoration Program.
I have now moved out of the Men’s Center, into my own home and am studying to become a minister. I wanted to give back to God, GRM and the public by volunteering at GRM Community Ministries by handing out food boxes, clothing, furniture and praying with and for others who are hurting and in need. This has helped me to stay connected to God and to be used by Him in small ways."