Under a bright, blue sky and warm sunshine, five men from The Harbor closed one chapter of their lives to start a brand new one filled with real hope and possibilities. Loud and proud, and in front of a packed house at Crossroads Church in northeast Portland, those five “miracles” (as described by Life Skills Manager Chris Jackson) used the time to share about God’s great love in their lives and how God continues to transform them daily.
The five men being celebrated were Tasson, Bill, Mike, Jon and Kelcey. (Honorary graduate Dennis was celebrated back in March). Kelcey has been accepted into the Service program, an additional year at The Harbor where he will spend his time giving back and picking up additional vocational training.
Surrounded by friends, family, staff and the community, each man was shared a little bit about their story and had a couple of people close to them share how they have seen the men change.
Here is a glimpse at what those in attendance heard from the graduates and their encouragers (See all the photos from the event):
Tasson on how he changed at The Harbor: “I’ve gained more spiritual insight into God. I know I’ve accepted him as my personal savior. I’ve become much more self-aware of myself and who I am as a person. The Mission has given me the tools to rebuild from the ground up so I can formulate a more structured person who can now go back into society and help someone else.”
Tasson on how he feels today: “I feel joyful and remarkable because I can feel myself again. I can see things more clearly now and I can now write new chapters in my life. … Today, I can say I’m whole again. I’ve changed in such incredible ways.”
Tasson on a big moment for him at The Harbor: “Around nine months ago, I began to work on changes in me thanks to the Genesis process. Through those classes, I was able to recognize those behavior patterns that led up to my dysfunction. … I started to unlock the pain, one bowl at a time – emotionally, spiritually, physically and socially. … It took me awhile, but I was really able to start to grasp the concept of God and what life is all about.”
Tasson on his next steps: “The next step for me is getting connected with a new, very genuine church family that I can get involved with, and eventually call my own. … I plan to be trained, thanks to some government services, in certain areas of employment where I can qualify for a job and connect with an employer directly. And I want to just enjoy life where I can continue to develop happiness, strive for joy and keep sowing those seeds that can grow people’s lives by turning them into spiritual men of God and men of great wisdom.”
Mike on how he changed at The Harbor: “I don’t get angry. I got love in my heart today. … I find that the people who upset me are either because I’ve done something wrong, or they’re hurt and need to be loved on. I was an angry person before. I had like 20 trips to the state penitentiary in California, but that’s not the case today.”
Mike on a big moment for him at The Harbor: “My defining moment is when my vocation went down to the Burnside Shelter and I started working one on one with the guests.
“When I was homeless, I didn’t trust nobody. I didn’t trust the people on the streets. I didn’t trust the people at Portland Rescue Mission. I didn’t want to talk to nobody. I didn’t even want to ask anyone for a cigarette. I’d just grab one off the ground. But being in my vocation down there, I realized I truly do love people. I love working with our homeless guests. I’m filled with love today.”
Mike on his next steps: “I’m going to school right now to become a drug and alcohol counselor. I’m moving into a studio apartment and I’m going to continue to serve at my church, where I’m pretty planted. Whatever God’s path is for me, I’m going to walk it.”
(Watch Mike’s “Story of Hope”).
Bill on how he changed at The Harbor: “I’ve come to realize you can always have a new life. I’ve been able to get my life and sobriety together. I’ve got my kids back in my life. I’ve got to meet a lot of new friends. … For my vocation, I’ve run a kitchen, which I had never done before in my life. … I’m just grateful for everything God gave me here.”
Bill on a big moment for him at The Harbor: “It was the moment I got accepted into the program. I remember because it only took me like 20 minutes. It was cold in November and I just jumped into the van that took me to The Harbor. I was scared. I wasn’t in a safe place downtown, I was out in the streets and so it was big because it was a moment of surrender, where I finally said, ok, I’m willing to get help and treatment and I’d willing to do it in a faith-based operation.”
Bill on his next steps: “I’m doing some painting and construction work, which I’ve never done before. But a lot of the guys I work with have been in recovery programs too, so it’s good to work with them since we’re all on the same page. I’m also looking for housing … which might include living with a couple of guys who have graduated the program so we can serve as that accountability for each other and support one another in our continued recovery.”
(Watch Bill’s “Story of Hope”).
Jon on how he changed at The Harbor: “The biggest thing The Harbor gave me, that I didn’t have before, is building a good foundation with church and positive people around me.”
Jon on a big moment for him at The Harbor: “A lot of little things that add up. By sticking with it and persevering through the hard times throughout the year, it’s allowed me the space and opportunity to recover. It’s served as a safety net for me.”
Jon on his next steps: “I started work a couple of weeks ago, so I plan on staying at The Harbor for a little while and save money up so I can get a leg up to get started well with.”
Kelcey on how he changed at The Harbor: “It’s been a new awakening to God’s creation and what he has in store for me. He’s shown me he has healing for me each day. I’m able to let go of things and give back to people. I’ve been able to be restored with my family and see my family I haven’t seen in a long time. I get to celebrate with them, and do so in a way that is not harmful. I’m able to experience life all over again and, like it says in the Bible, be reborn.
“I have a new love and appreciation for nature and animals. My eyes have been reopened and I’m finally out of the daze I was in for so long. God has shown me a great amount of love.”
Kelcey on a big moment for him at The Harbor: “Letting my hurts inside go and giving them to God. Asking for forgiveness and forgiving others and being reunited with my son in a new way.”
Kelcey’s teenage son, Taylor, on how his dad has changed: “My dad is a totally different person. He’s completely changed in a matter of a year. It’s crazy! I have such a good time with him all the time. And I’m just glad that him, my mom and me can be good friends, again.”
(Watch Kelcey’s “Story of Hope”)
Five lives changed forever.
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