With patience and love, the staff at Pacific Garden Mission mentors, encourages, and teaches each person here. We meet them where they are and share with them what God can do in their lives. In this month’s issue, Aswad shares his testimony of how Jesus Christ and the Pacific Garden Mission changed his life and those around him.
We will hear first-hand how the choice to walk with God and be fully committed to Him can truly transform a life, bearing witness to others that change is indeed possible—and it is never too late with God! We thank you for being a faithful supporter, partnering with PGM to continue this legacy of changing lives and spreading hope through the Gospel of Jesus Christ and spreading hope.
“I became addicted to heroin. In the beginning, it was an addiction, but it wasn’t overbearing. I was able to be what you would call a functional heroin addict. After a while it became dysfunctional, and, in that dysfunction, I couldn’t keep a job, and the little money I did have went to my addiction.
“Downtown Chicago seemed like the best place to hustle for money to feed my addiction, and one day in 2002, I walked by Pacific Garden Mission. I didn’t know what it was. I just saw there were a lot of people in there. I noticed a homeless person go in. I was curious about what it was, so I went in to see. I saw that it was a homeless shelter, but I also learned it had a Bible program. Having knowledge of God, I thought the best way to change my life was to join the Bible program, so I joined.
“The great thing about Pacific Garden Mission is that you can see the outcome of those who are faithfully walking with Christ and those who aren’t, and you can decide here which way you want to go.”
“The first time I joined the Bible program, I think I lasted for about three days because with a heroin addiction, when you don’t have it, you get sick. And when that sickness came, I just left. I had to go and didn’t know what else to do. I had to go feed the addiction. That cycle continued for the next eight years. One day, sitting in the dayroom in 2009, I came to a conscious decision: This time, I made a vow that if He helped me clear my mind and heart and taught me how to turn myself over to Him, I would do it and walk with Him for the rest of my life.
“During that transitional year in the Bible program, God was transforming me in the image of Christ and changing who I was to establish a relationship with Him by removing myself. That year that is what I did. I simply learned how to love God, and in loving God, I learned how to turn to Him in times of need. It was like a new birth for me; God was everything He says He is. That was in 2010, and I have been here since working at Pacific Garden Mission in the kitchen.
“The great thing about Pacific Garden Mission is that you can see the outcome of those who are faithfully walking with Christ and those who aren’t, and you can decide here which way you want to go. The Gospel will be given to you when you are here. I don’t care if you are only here for three hours. During those three hours, the Gospel will be presented to you. You will hear the Word. And once you hear that Word . . . and God talks to you . . . and you understand what He is saying to you . . . He will work on changing you whether you like it or not.
“God showed me how to live and do things His way, and I haven’t been the same since. My transformation came from being here and seeing for myself 100% what God can do for you if you give your life to Him without being wishy-washy. The road from 2010 to where I am now has been difficult because even though I wasn’t getting high, I still had to grow in the Spirit. I still had to learn how to communicate spiritually. I had to retrain my thoughts and inner thinking of the things I was accustomed to doing.
“During that period, God brought my wife here to Pacific Garden Mission, and we married. I had to change many things in me for the glory of God, but He used my wife in doing so. And in the same process of Him using my wife to change me, He used me to change her. My wife is now a Christian woman. She was baptized two years ago, and we are walking together with the Lord. I have had two girls with her, and she had a son, so five of us are in the house. Her son also converted to Christianity simply by watching me. It was God that did these things. I know it wasn’t me. I never beat Christianity over their heads; I was just me and did what I was supposed to do. He used that to change the people of those around me, and that is wonderful.
“Now Jesus Christ is the head of my life, and I follow Him wholeheartedly. I understand why Christ came and died on the cross. I understand who the Holy Spirit is. I understand the Trinity within itself. In understanding that, I understand there is nothing higher or greater than God. There is nothing I cannot do or accomplish through God who strengthens me.”
Nothing shares the power of God more than a changed life that has been transformed through the Gospel. Just as Aswad shared in his testimony, we can see the results of those who walk with God, and it serves as an undeniable testament to His power as living parables to both to encourage and warn us. We thank you for providing the resources that allow us to do what we do. Pacific Garden Mission is a thriving example of the power of God in changing lives, and it's a place where our staff can patiently and lovingly come alongside those seeking God to guide them into a new life of walking with Christ daily.
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