“PGM Changed My Life”

Ed Okrie’s testimony embodies the transformative power of Pacific Garden Mission, a ministry that has been a lighthouse of hope for the homeless in Chicago since the late 1800s. Ed’s journey from the depths of addiction and homelessness to a life renewed by faith and purpose highlights the life-changing role PGM and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have played in countless lives. It takes people from a life of pain and hopelessness to hope and contentment in Christ. His story is a testament to PGM’s steadfast dedication to provide shelter, sustenance, and pathways to redemption and renewal.

Ed Okrie

“I came to the Mission about a year ago. I had a drug problem and I was homeless. I had been staying at friends’ houses, but that didn’t end well. I had been here before when I was down on my luck, but it took a few years before I came back and joined the program. I was hesitant to join because I would be giving up a lot of my freedoms, but what I didn’t realize was that I was already giving up my freedoms by being addicted to drinking and drugs.

“I have been drinking ever since I was a teenager. I grew up in a single-parent home. There was a lot of abuse in the family, so I think that may have made me feel like I needed to drink. Maybe I just did it for fun. My mom would say, ‘Your dad doesn’t want you.’ So, I don’t think I had a sense of love, acceptance, or self-worth. I just thought I didn’t matter. No one would ever tell me they loved me or that I did well. With six kids, one girl and five boys, my mother was very frustrated taking care of us alone and would threaten that one day she would just leave us all.

“I realized I couldn’t do it myself. That is when I came here to Pacific Garden Mission.”

“As I got older, my life wasn’t normal. At school, I would act up and try to get attention. Drinking was always a part of how I enjoyed myself. At the age of 35, the drugs came in. I was depressed, and a friend suggested that I try crack cocaine. Ever since I did, it became a part of my life. I couldn’t shake the addiction for three years until I came to the Mission. I wasn’t able to keep jobs for very long. I wasn’t able to keep friends. I only cared about myself. Eventually, it all came to a head and I ran out of options. I realized I couldn’t do it myself. That is when I came here to Pacific Garden Mission.

“I initially stayed at PGM as an overnight guest. I would sit there and listen to the Gospel services, but mostly, I would just come here to shower or eat if I was hungry. Every time I would get money, I would spend it on drugs. That is when I figured I would at least try the program. I joined it, and I have been here for over a year. Being in the program and dealing with different personalities and the structure of the program is not easy, but I figured this is where God wanted me to be. I may not always like it, but if God is here with me, I can make it through the program.

“I first did the New Day addictions recovery program, which was 90 days, and then evangelist Phil recommended I join New Life. I have been in the New Life program for about a year now. After I moved out of my family’s house, I was always isolated. I stuck to myself and didn’t understand how to function in any kind of relationship with people. Coming here helped me get along with people and have patience. I try to live by God’s Word and treat people how God would want me to treat them. Even if they say something I do not like, I always try to respond in a Godly way.

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” —Philippians 2:13

“I realized who He was and what He did, and I became a more mature Christian. I can be a light to others who are lost in darkness. I feel that sharing the truth with somebody is my responsibility, and whether they take it or not would be up to them. I hope to maybe continue in ministry. I used to work at FedEx and felt the job was pointless. I’d just stack boxes, and more boxes would come, they would never stop coming, and then I realized that here I can impact people’s lives. I can pray for people, talk to people about Jesus Christ, share the Word of God with people, and help people who are lost in sin. We can plant the seed in someone’s heart; it is up to God and the Holy Spirit to water it.

“PGM changed my life. It is a great place and there is so much grace here. I came here, I was hungry, and they fed me. I had no clothes, and they gave me warm clothes. I had nowhere to stay, and PGM opened their doors for me. That says a lot. That tells the Gospel. I just thank God for even being here. God’s grace is what brought me to this point because if it were left up to me, I would have destroyed myself with drinking or drugs. It would have been a disaster, but thank God He intervened in my life. I hope I am able to share Jesus Christ with somebody else so that their life can be changed, too. That is what I hope.

As Ed Okrie eloquently illustrates, Pacific Garden Mission stands as a testament to the enduring impact of your compassion and generosity. We thank all the donors and supporters whose contributions have made Ed’s transformation and those of countless others possible.

And your gift today ensures more individuals like Ed find not just temporary relief from the streets but also the opportunity for lasting change and spiritual renewal. Together, let us continue to support and uplift those in need, knowing that each act of kindness echoes through lives, transforming despair into hope and darkness into light. Through Christ, all things are possible.

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