Joseph's Story

"I was born May 18, 1997 in Sonora, CA. My father was 76 years old and my mom was 36 years old when I was born. I am the youngest of a total of 14 brothers and sisters. Growing up with my parents was far from what would be considered a normal lifestyle. I never lived in any one place longer than a few years. When I was six my family and I moved to Iowa to live with my brother. I was first introduced to cigarettes at 7 years old while living there. I just wanted to fit in. There was a lot of conflict in the family so my family moved to Nebraska when I was 8 years old. At that time my mom was addicted to crack cocaine and one day she decided to teach me how to smoke it.  I smoked it with my mom for several months. Around that time was I was sexually assaulted the first time by two older males. I never told a soul about that. Partly from my pain and from not wanting to be judged.  I tried marijuana at 9 years old. My mom went to rehab soon after and was kicked out on foul play. Seeing no other options, my family moved back to California when I was 10. When I was 11 years old I was sexually assaulted for the second and third time by two different males from the same apartments where I lived. Again, I never told a soul.

My parents divorced when I was nearly 12 years old. I did not know why and I blamed myself for it all. In my mom's drug addiction she signed legal guardianship to my sister who was mentally, emotionally, and verbally abusive. My father moved in with my sister and I so he could be closer to his kids before he died. My dad passed away April 16, 2010. The pain from him dying was unbearable and I became extremely rebellious. I tried to move back with my mom but that ended up with me getting sent to juvenile hall for battery at 14 years old. The only person who was able to take me in was the same abusive sister.

When I was 16 I tried cocaine for the first time and I liked it. I soon started to run away from home on the delusion that I could make it on my own as a kid with nothing to my name. My senior year in high school I ran away and dropped out. A few months later I returned and somehow managed to get back into school and get my diploma. All the while still a runaway. I moved to Sonora again and started attending Columbia College where I became addicted to LSD. My addiction made it to where I became chronically homeless. I dropped out of college and moved back to the valley to be homeless in the place I knew best. To try and make some quick cash I started breaking into houses and loved the rush of it. My sister that help raise me soon became a target. That was when I received two felonies and a strike. During this time I became addicted to meth and by the time I was 19 I started manufacturing my own LSD. It took me 18 months to check into probation.

My probation officer brought up the idea of going into a program. I chose to take up that opportunity and went to the Merced County Rescue Mission. I honestly feel this place helped me to completely change my life. The Mission was the first place where I ever felt like I had a home. The staff there are so understanding and loving and I finally knew I wasn’t alone in my journey through life. I found a family that I can love and know they only want the best for me. For the first time I had found hope. Hope that I can live life drug and crime free. Hope that I could pursue my dreams and not be afraid of any obstacles that may arise. Hope that one day I can be independent and be in a position where I can give back to the community. This program did one thing I never thought possible, which had brought me back into Christianity. I now firmly believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. My past no longer defines me, but God’s grace does." - Joseph

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Lindsay's Story

For many, the Mission is their last chance for getting back to stability. You made it possible for Lindsay to come to Merced County Rescue Mission and find help to overcome her addictions, and gain life skills and job training to get her life back on track.

"My name is Lindsay Annis and I was born and raised in Merced, CA. My younger brother, Ronnie, and I were raised by our mother Shelly. I had a good childhood, I have fond memories of riding bikes and swimming in ponds with my brother. Almost every weekend we would go to Rollerland. After completing high school, I started my first job as a certified phlebotomist and was exposed to Vicodin shortly after. My addiction at that point started growing and became an entity of its own - controlling my life and placing me on a path that was not my own. My addiction went on for years and I experimented with other substances. I went in and out of jail, spiraling out of control. In the summer of 2014, I went to House of Grace in San Jose, CA and by April of the following year, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. In the fall of 2017, I relapsed on meth and about 5 months later I was completely broken, lost and destroyed. Merced County Rescue Mission gave me HOPE. Since going through their Hope for Women program I have found my spark! I am blessed to say that I am clean! I have my children back in my life and am mending relationships with family members. I am living proof of God's grace, mercy and love! Thank you, Merced County Rescue Mission, for giving me the flicker I needed to reignite my flame to live the life God called me to." 
- Lindsay

"It has been wonderful to see Lindsay's progress and recovery. She has been a great volunteer in the office and is now assisting in our women's Sober Living home. She brings a spirit of joy to those around her!" 
- Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Metcalf

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Melissa's Story

June 2018

"My name is Melissa and I am 37 years old. I grew up in South Carolina and Georgia. My parents divorced when I was eight years old and my dad lost his parental rights to myself, my younger sister and my older brother due to his struggle with drug addiction. My mom remarried and my siblings and I were adopted by my stepdad. He was very abusive both mentally and physically to me and my siblings. At the age of 15 I began running away and had my first drink of alcohol. This was the only way I could find to cope with my home life. All my cries for help seemed to always fall on deaf ears. When I was 18, I left Georgia to go on the road and sell magazines door to door. About a year later, I quit my job and decided to settle in California where I met my husband and father of my four children. Throughout all of this, I continued to drink and was also introduced to meth and pain killers. I just thought, 'I am an addict and for whatever reason this is just my unfortunate lot in life.' I wanted so badly to be clean but had no idea how to overcome my addictions. To make matters worse, my older brother passed away when I was 34 which drove me deeper into my addictions. My life continued to spiral more and more out of control every year that went by. I was using all day, every day and still trying to play the role of house wife and mom. In so many ways, it was just not working.

Thankfully and although my home life as a child was far from normal, my parents still took us to church, so I was at least blessed enough to be aware of God's existence. In the midst of my addiction and life being in shambles I began to cry out to Him wanting so badly to be 'normal' and for these addictions not to take my life. Finally, in June 2017, God answered my prayers. I was referred by a program that was full to the Merced County Rescue Mission's Hope for Women program. When I heard that the Rescue Mission was faith based, I knew that being referred to and accepted into the program was a 'God send'. This program has been my saving grace. God's presence and anointing on this Mission is undeniable. I have tried for the past 21 years to get clean and this has been the only program that has actually worked for me. The staff's compassion, love and devotion to their participants has helped to restore my faith in God and in men and women who so selflessly give their lives to help others in need.

Since coming to the Mission I have developed something that was lacking in my life and that's the HOPE we have in Christ. I now feel like I have a life-long family, friends and unshakable relationship with God that can withstand any trials life may bring."

-Melissa

Melissa is scheduled to complete our Hope for Women program this month (June 2018). We are truly excited that she will be returning to live with her husband and four children. Melissa has been a blessing to the people around her and has cheerfully helped us in the office. We know that as she stays in a close relationship with God she will continue to be a blessing to many people.

Dr. Bruce Metcalf, Executive Director, Merced County Rescue Mission

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Cheryl's Story

May 2018

"My name is Cheryl and I'm 47 years old. I was born in Merced and grew up in Merced. My parents were hard working and made sure that we had a comfortable life with everything we wanted and needed. We were loved, cared for and always encouraged to get an education so that we would not have to struggle. After the passing of both of my parents, I continued to fulfill my parents wishes of obtaining an education, graduating from Stanislaus State with a Bachelor's degree in Behavioral Psychology. During this time, I became pregnant with my daughter. I was a single mother with a great career and life. This was until the stress of single parenting, work and life became more difficult to deal with. I began to be stressed all the time and found that having a glass of wine in the evenings would relax me. As time went on, so did my drinking. What started with only a glass occasionally, went to having a glass every evening and then an entire bottle. This is when the world I had worked so hard to build began to crumble. After a period of continuous drinking, my family came to me and told me how they were missing the mother and sister I once was. It was at that time that they asked me to seek help so I joined the Merced County Rescue Mission to begin my journey back to sobriety. The Merced County Rescue Mission has given me my life back and most importantly, my relationship with my daughter! MCRM has helped me to love myself again through the classes we attend, the new family I have made and my rediscovery of my faith in God!"

-Cheryl

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Sandy's Story

April 2018

"Before I came to this program, I was in Florida. I lost everything I owned. I lost my place to live, I was alone and scared to death. I hit rock bottom, I was so tired of fighting to survive that I decided to kill myself, but God had other plans for me. I was in the hospital for a week, and then to a shelter. My brother bought me a bus ticket home, to Merced County. I stayed at my mom's and she told me about the Merced County Rescue Mission's Hope for Women program. It sounded like something worth going to, and I don't regret it. The wonderful teachers there taught me just how much Jesus loves me and cares for me, and that I am important! That when I do things that are not in line with the word of God, I hurt him (God). That woke me up! I have finished the program and now I'm a Resident Assistant at the house, I got a job and do volunteer work when I can. I hope to get my own apartment here in Merced. This place gave me my self-worth back, and that means a lot to me. I continue to learn about Jesus and His great love."

-Sandy

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Dan's Story

March 2018

"My name is Dan. I started to use drugs and alcohol at the age of 15. I was described as one of those, "long-haired hippies". I was young and thought, 'I'm just having fun as a teenager.' After a few years I became an adult, and the 'fun' turned into an 'addiction', getting arrested, going to jail, and eventually state prison. I've been to a number of drug rehab programs. I've also gone to college, studying about addictions to become a counselor. I have overcome a lot of personal issues and over the years have been able to find a balance in my life. I have been involved with the Merced County Rescue Mission since 2013 when I completed the Men's New Life Transformation program. I now volunteer a lot of time in helping with the functioning of the Merced County Rescue Mission. I serve as a driver, picking up and delivering donations. I am also a Resident Volunteer for one of the Transition to Hope, sober living homes for the Mission. I am very GRATEFUL and THANKFUL to be a part of the Merced County Rescue Mission."

-Dan

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Fernando & Sozana's Story

February 2018

Fernando & Sozana want to say "thank you" for your support! We hope you know that really, this has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with changing the lives of our neighbors in need, and that's where friends of the Mission, like you, come in. Read their story and see how lives are transforming!

"On March 14, 2017 our son, Fernando Jr. was brought into the world. This was both the best day and the worst day of our lives. The best day, because Fernando now had a son. The worst day because we were homeless and would not be able to bring Fernando Jr. home."

After carrying her child for 9 months, Sozana was heartbroken that she could not bring her son home. Sozana tested positive for using meth and Fernando tested positive for using heroin. Their newborn son would be taken from them. This news broke them, but instead of tetting their lives together and making good decisions, their lives spiraled out of control. They continued to use drugs even more to hid the pain of losing their son, but they failed to think of how they were also hurting their son. There finally came a point in their addiction when they thought that they could do what CPS (Child Protective Services) had asked them to do AND continuing to use drugs. They discovered how wrong they were as their tests came back "dirty". They tried methods to falsify the tests, but their attempts didn't work. They were given 6 months to complete all the CPS classes.

In October of 2017 they reached out to the Merced County Rescue Mission. Fernando entered the Hope for Men Program and Sozana entered the Hope for Women Program. Sozana says this was one of the BEST THINGS that ever happened to them. For herself, Sozana says, "I came out finding that there is more to life than using drugs, and the courses taught me how to walk with the Lord and to ask forgiveness from all the people I have hurt on my road to destruction. Through the classes I have attended, I have found the kind of mother I need to be for my son."

Fernando says, "I owe a lot to the Merced County Rescue Mission for taking me in and giving me a place to call home and giving me the tools I need to get my life back on track so that I can be the providing father my son deserves to have." Fernando now speaks of his life with Sozana as one in which they are not alone, but are walking together in faith. As they have experienced God in their lives, they have found that CPS has extended the hours they are able to spend with their son. They now both have jobs at Foster Farms and with help have their own apartment! With help from the MCRM they have made their new home "baby ready". They have passed the CPS inspections. Sozana exclaims, "It has been worth all that we have been through to have our son with us, no words can describe the feeling we have of joy!" One more inspection and they will get their son for the whole month of February on a trial basis. Sozana goes on to say, "God willing, come March, we will be given our son back for good. We have worked hard to get to this point, but without God and help from the Merced County Rescue Mission we would not be in this place today. We love YOU and the programs that have helped us become the people we are today. THANK YOU and God bless." Fernando and Sozana are now engaged and look forward to being a family.

-Fernando, Sozana, & Fernando Jr.

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Tim's Story

January 2018

"I grew up in a very religious family and I always knew that God loved me. Growing up I always had a belief in the Lord, that is how I was raised. As a child I moved from Wyoming to England, Germany, back to England, and Sacramento. When I was about 10, my mom got cancer in her kidney, it was removed, and she seemed OK. After a while the doctor realized it had spread to her lung and liver. My mom decided she would rather die in peace than go through chemo again. At that age, I didn't know what to do other than try to comfort my mom. I was with my mom every day, reading to her. While at a celebration for my 6th grade graduation, I got a call about my mom. By the time I showed up she was being taken out on a gurney and on her way to the morgue, and that was the last time I saw my mom. That is when I started going downhill.

At age 22, my best friend Daniel killed himself. I felt it was my fault. I am the one who told him I was moving, and he was on his own. When I got the call that he had killed himself, it was too much for me. I kept doing my own thing, living how I thought I should live. I was lost and did not think God cared about me at all. I moved back to my hometown and my gradual drinking turned into having seizures. I drank so much that if I didn't drink in the morning I would go into shock. I ended up homeless for two years until, luckily, I got arrested. My brother knew the court and I was ordered to the Merced County Rescue Mission. At first, I was just happy to be out of jail, after a while I understood God put me there for a reason. I came to understand that God had a purpose for me, and that I had to turn my life over to him. I learned to look for the doors he opened for me, that led me to my beautiful wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Genevieve. I worked my way up to Director or Program and Operations and I feel blessed to have helped so many others going through the programs at the Mission. I know I am not perfect, but the Mission helped me realize that there is nothing I can do without God. God is the one who opened the doors to where I am in life. God will lead you to where you need to be, you just must be willing to walk through the door."

Tim Adam, Director of Program & Operations, Merced County Rescue Mission

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Jess' Story

November 2017

"My name is Jess, I'm 57 years old and was born in San Jose, CA where I grew up. My parents were hard working and made sure we had food and clothes. They were strict because they loved us and wanted the best for us. As I was growing up, I always felt lonely and alone, as though something was missing in my life. We went to church every Sunday and I knew there was a God but didn't pay much attention to him. At 12 years old I started to drink and cut classes - I was doing what I wanted to do. As the years went on, I also began doing drugs. I started feeling more alone. At 16 years old, I had a son. I dropped out of high school to get a job. All together I had four kids, and the more money I made, the more drugs I bought. I didn't care about anyone or who I was hurting. I only cared about drugs and alcohol. My family didn't want me around because I was always high. I had been in a Christian recovery home before in San Jose, but I still felt that loneliness and emptiness deep down - so I ran from God and was obedient to the devil again.

As years went on, my drug habit got worse, my health too. In 2016 I lost both my parents to cancer and my youngest daughter. I felt more alone and I didn't want to be in this world anymore. I tried to kill myself by swallowing crystal meth and nitroglycerin pills. After 40 years of doing drugs and being obedient to the devil, I had had enough! My niece contacted the Merced County Rescue Mission, they interviewed me and I was accepted. I am now four months clean, no longer depressed and no longer lonely, and my health has improved. By the grace of God I'm still alive and happier than ever. No more suicidal thoughts. I'm not only learning the Bible, but I'm getting to know God and loving my God, my Savior, all thanks to the Merced County Rescue Mission's New Life Transformation program. My life has just begun!"

-Jess

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Scott's Story

October 2017

"I was lost and stuck in the lowest point of my life. Whether I was drinking or not, my alcoholism was out of control, and in that dark place I had attempted to commit suicide. Fortunately I was rescued and taken to a place where I received help. My social worker talked to me about Hope Medical Respite Care, which was part of the Merced County Rescue Mission and said this would be a great place for me to go, especially since I was still recovering from a total knee replacement a month prior.

I became a participant at the Hope Medical Respite Care and immediately felt welcome and safe. I was treated with respect and compassion through the duration of my stay. While there, I learned about the Hope for Men, New Life Transformation Program, and I knew immediately that Jesus was calling me to continue my walk and recovery with the Merced County Rescue Mission.

Today I'm a disciple and peer navigator for the Merced County Rescue Mission in the Hope for Men program. I once again have joy in my life and have the opportunity to reach out, serve and love those in need in the name of Christ.

God Bless You, Scott"

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