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Ministry Moment: From Addict to Catechumen

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St. Brigid’s Fellowship in Isla Vista, California is one of our partner ministries and is run by St. Athanasius Orthodox Church. They have an amazing outreach to the low–income and homeless population in their area. People who visit St. Brigid’s Fellowship are exposed to the love of Christ and because of this several are drawn to the Orthodox Church and start attending services at St. Athanasius. The following is a beautiful story from a homeless addict, Michael, who through the love that was show to him at St. Brigid’s Fellowship, became a catechumen at St. Athanasius. Michael truly is a perfect example of a living icon being restored.

My name is Michael and this is my story. A year ago I was going to die. There was so much pain in my heart from countless situations I had experienced. Starting as a young child the world seemed cruel. I struggled to care for myself—my tape covered shoes showed it. While other children played, I dug in dumpsters and sold flowers I picked or poems I wrote. The money I used for food and laundry. Without a family that cared, I became a victim to molest. Before I turned eleven I had also already witnessed a murder and a suicide.

I grew into life only to find that at the age of twenty-five I was still digging in dumpsters. I had become an addict, and I was homeless. I started at different times to get a hang of life better but found I could not keep a hold of stability and gradually grew worse. I finally resigned myself to death and was entertaining ideas of how the end my life on this earth. This was a year ago.

When I first came to St Brigid's Fellowship last November, I truly had nothing. They offered me food and social services. That December I felt a change in myself and I knew it came from something there. By February I became aware that God had put me there to save my life. I sensed that the hands of the people were also the hands of St. Brigid herself. I could see that the fire in their hearts was the fire of God. I call the people there angels because they lifted me up again. I felt the same fire light my heart. I kept coming back and felt my pain going away. I would cry in church on Sunday because I realized for the first time it was going to be better. I cried in grief over memories and I cried in relief I was beginning to feel.

I have been a Catechumen now for three months. I sense the saints when I am in the church and in the people who go there. They are my family, and I will be with them forever. May God bless St. Brigid's Fellowship and St. Athanasius.

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