Ernesto’s Story

“I needed Pacific Garden Mission at this time in my life . . . and I needed a change.”
—Ernesto Reyes

At Pacific Garden Mission, we know that Jesus Christ is the answer. Jesus Christ changes lives, and a relationship with Him has helped many overcome life-crippling addictions and despair. Story after story of lives changed through God gives us confidence that He is still working today. As you read Ernesto’s story of transformation in this month’s issue of PGM News, remember stories like his would not be possible without your help.

Ernesto Reyes

“I have been fortunate in my life to be born into the family I was born into. My family was well off, and I am too. I have a few businesses with my father. I got married and moved to Houston and had kids, but unfortunately, life detoured, and I got a divorce about five years ago. I didn’t cope with it. I started drinking. I am just grateful to be alive. I should be dead.

“I used to drive by this building all the time. I would shop here downtown and pass and see this cross all the time, and I never knew anything about Pacific Garden Mission. I always thought I was saved. I grew up Roman Catholic and went to seminary for high school, so I have always known who God was. I got baptized at a church, but only to find out I did it just so I could get married at the church, so I don’t know if I was saved until I came here.

“I needed Pacific Garden Mission at this time in my life. I was a heavy binge drinker and a high-functioning alcoholic. No one around me told me how bad I was, and I never knew I had a problem until about four years ago; my daughter, who was a little girl back then, 4 or 5, asked me if I had brushed my teeth. My ex-wife would tell me I looked bad. Looking at myself, I thought I looked good, but little did I know I had an early form of jaundice at that time. I could have died. I got into a car accident, moved back home to Chicago, and continued drinking.

“I drank not to harm myself, even though I did. I drank to forget because I was grieving and in pain and didn’t know how to cope. In my family, men don’t cry, so I was this emotional brick wall. I needed help. So one day after a binge, something I put my family through for almost five years, I realized how urgent it was. I do have children, two boys, and a daughter, and I needed a change; I could lose everything. I burnt many bridges and lost a lot of friendships. It was time to change because I could die, so my brother found this place. My brother said there was a program here for 90 days, and I said, OK.

“I walked in. I had never been to a homeless shelter in my entire life and thought I couldn’t do this. I had made my mind up that I was going to deal with it, and I have been here since. I was in the New Day program, and I have changed, but I only changed through Jesus Christ. I can’t take any credit for it. I don’t have a desire to live that life anymore.

“Through that relationship with Christ, I realized I needed more than just a 90-day program, so I joined the New Life program, and I have been here for seven months now. I am enjoying it and taking pleasure in the relationships I have and the pursuit of a better life. I have important people in my life, and I want to make sure they are saved. And the most important of those are my children, but I can only do that if I am saved. I take comfort in the fact that my family takes comfort knowing I am here.

“Everybody in this building plays their part, and everybody here is amazing. I have built some long-lasting friendships because I consider many of these people mentors/elders in my life. I am not the person I was before. I am a new creation in Jesus Christ.”

Ernesto is becoming the man his children and family need him to be, and he is learning to cope with his pain in a healthy way now. His relationship with Jesus Christ has given him the power to overcome his addiction to alcohol, and God’s Word continues to give him direction. Without your help, stories like this would not be possible, and we are grateful for your support. A life like Ernesto’s, once changed, doesn’t just positively affect his life but the lives of those around him, like his children and family. The light of Christ is shining and spreading, thanks to faithful supporters like you.

So many more people need food, shelter, and the power to break their addictions and heal their wounds. Please help make more stories like Ernesto’s possible by giving whatever you can today.

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