By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (ANS — April 1, 2017) — When you hear the word homeless, what comes to mind?
I’m guessing you may think of the prolific number of panhandlers we have in Albuquerque, someone shuffling through Downtown with a loaded shopping bag, or a person waving his hands to the sky and talking enigmatically to an invisible person.
But there’s more to this high profile issue than just the plight of these unfortunate souls. In the South Valley, lives are being touched and changed daily on Joy Junction’s campus. It’s happening through the shelter’s faith based life recovery program, Christ in Power.
Just a few days ago, we held a graduation ceremony for ten program participants. They shared a little of their stories.
Alison said she was at a dead end where she was at. However, she knew she had a chance to change her future.
“Getting deep into Bible study by attending the CIPP classes at Joy Junction would change my life.”
She said that program teacher Chaplain Marcos Atwood’s enthusiasm is so contagious she gets to discover new truths all the time in Bible.
She added, “My faith in my Father is strong. I didn’t think I would find joy in life anymore, but thanks to prayer and Bible study I have found joy in working for the Lord my Father.”
Edith wanted a closer walk with God and His help to maintain her five years of sobriety. It wasn’t initially easy. She said it was a struggle to attend the required morning classes, but she did, and felt good and “spiritually refreshed.”
She added, “I am thankful that God spoke to me through the classes, and helped me to finish the nine month program. He is my Rock. I need God everyday in my life, because He keeps my life on the straight and narrow path. Without God I could never make it. I am very proud to have God as my Savior.”
Ryna (also known as Ginger) said that God used people to encourage her to join the program. She admitted being initially sad and emotional, as she didn’t want to stay at Joy Junction for nine months.
She added, “I wanted to get my career and life going. (But) my goal is to have a relationship with God in His truth, and to learn what God is preparing me for after the program. He has changed my life because I am not the same person, which is my biggest ‘high.’”
Ginger said that while she is still learning to deal with issues, she is stronger than before.
“To be successful in life and the program is to give my life to God. Yes, allowing God to be in control and having faith as an integral part of the program is important and a must.”
Cheyenne said she joined the Christ in Power program not only to better herself, but also for the benefit of her husband and daughter.
She explained, “I felt like (it) could really help with the issues I have suppressed over the years, and help me work through them and just learn to forgive and move on.”
She is proud that she stuck with the program, because there were a number of times during the nine months that she wanted to quit.
However, she realized that she needed to have faith in herself, her family and God, “because if I didn’t, where would I be or what would my faith be in?”
Jon said he joined the CIPP program to overcome his addiction and live a clean life. He said his high points were completing the program and experiencing graduation.
“My low points were when I was going through my struggles, I felt like quitting. But because of the program, my faith has kept me strong and allowed me to remain focused on my goals.”
Andrew joined CIPP because he wanted a stronger relationship with God, and felt his sobriety was at stake without a support group.
He reflected, “My high points were finding out that God never left me in the first place. My low points were having to face the realty of my actions. This program is based on having faith in God, and allowing Him to take control.”
His wife Hillary joined the program to better understand her husband’s addictions.
She said, “Faith is a very important part of my life. Without faith I would have not been able to make it through the program.”
Stephanie decided to join CIPP, not knowing how it would change her life.
“I just knew I would have the opportunity to attend Bible study every day. It was not easy going through CIPP, but it is truly worth (it) 100 percent.”
She has learned how to stand up for herself and not focus on negativity. She said that helps her to be stronger than she ever was.
She added, “CIPP has shown me that faith is the most important part. Without faith and my personal relationship with God, there is no way I would have made it through. She said that while she entered the program with no addiction, God showed her areas of her life that needed to be worked on, like bad relationships.
“I had to forgive those who abused me. Through CIPP I have learned to let go of the past by exercising my faith in Christ, and laying everything that I have at His feet … No one can steal my faith or unspeakable joy in God.”
Sabrina joined the program to get clean by being drug free, start fresh by working on her faith and get closer to God. She said the low points were when she used to let people’s negativity bother me.
“The high point of the program is that I learned a lot more about myself as a person, and my volunteer duties in security taught me to have a better attitude. Having faith brings positive things in your life. Without God as guidance I would have failed. Thanks to God I wake up every day healthy and living a clean, drug free life.”
Teacher Marcos Atwood said he is proud of the graduates “overcoming life’s obstacles by seeking God in every decision they make.”
He said people who join the program are “confused, sometimes angry with their lives, addictions, not speaking to family members, selfishness, overwhelmed with pride and the list goes on. CIPP changes their lives in the way they think, as well as their self esteem.”
Aren’t these great stories? If you know someone who would benefit from joining CIPP, contact Chaplain Atwood at 505 877 6967. It could be a life changing call.
Photo captions: 1) March 2017 graduation for some participants in the Joy Junction Life Recovery Program. 2) Jeremy Reynalds greets a homeless man. 3) Jeremy and Elma Reynalds.
About the writer: Jeremy Reynalds, who was born in Bournemouth, UK, is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, www.joyjunction.org. He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. One of his more recent books is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on the book are available at www.myhomelessjourney.com. His latest book is “Two Hearts One Vision.” It is available at www.twoheartsonevisionthebook.com. Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information, please contact Jeremy Reynalds at email@example.com.
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