You Welcomed Me

Chris Gilland hops from pipe to ledge as he shows off his old digs under a Raleigh bridge.  Cheerfully, he tells of surviving freezing temperatures, doing odd jobs for food and drugs, staying upbeat in anything but upbeat circumstances.

For four months, he’d waited for a bed at Raleigh Rescue Mission, but space simply wasn’t available.  Then April 12, 2005, intake supervisor Rev. Duane Cook asked Chris the question he’d waited so long to hear: “Do you have a toothbrush and toothpaste?”  Chris knew he was staying the night!

“I’d heard about the Mission from a resident there,” Chris recalls. “He had a sparkle in his eye that said, I’m going somewhere.  I wanted to feel that way, too.”

Residents in our Life Plan Program note they’d never seen anyone so grateful for a bed as Chris.  “I was lonely and tired and I needed rest so bad.  Somewhere to lay my head,” he explains.

Though Chris could have slept for days, he dragged himself to a recovery course two days after he got here.  “If I’d missed that class, I would have waited five weeks for the next one, and I wouldn’t have made it,” he insists.

Chris perked up as he listened to volunteer David Livingston discuss recovery from a spiritual perspective.  “I’d always been spiritual, but without direction,” Chris says. “I’m also very analytical and he came from an analytical perspective.  I couldn’t prove him wrong.”

Chris’s perspective changed radically in many ways.  “My outlook on life is like looking through someone else’s eyes.  I’m more focused on each day.  And I have hope now.  Recently, I told a man who said his brother was hopeless that it wasn’t until I had become utterly and bitterly hopeless that I found hope.”

In past weeks, God has helped Chris navigate through tough legal waters and he is regaining a sense of responsibility and self worth.  “The Mission is helping me prepare for living,” he says.  “They say, Get up and get to work.  They push me and get me in the habit of living again.”

“I thought I could change on my own,” Chris says.  “Now I wish I could give others a glimpse of what their reality can be like if they come here.  My imagination can’t comprehend what God has ahead for me.”