Bill’s Story3 min read

billstoryThree Months Clean

We hadn’t seen Bill in some time, though he has been coming two or three times a week for years. The Bill we knew was homeless, drug addicted, taciturn, physically dirty, and appeared a lost cause. But the Bill we saw in March was clean, healthy looking, smiling, and engaging in conversation. As I was pondering what made the change, Bill came over to talk to me.

“Pastor,” began Bill. “I am clean. Three months clean. My mother died recently and I realized how blessed I am for her to have seen me sober and clean.”

As his story progressed, I learned that he had always wanted to break free of his destructive cycle but didn’t know how. He admitted himself into a treatment program, not for the first time, but it was only four weeks and he knew that he needed more time in a recovery program.

That is where the Capuchins came in.

The Capuchins

Inspired by life and work of St. Francis of Assisi, the Capuchins are a religious community of friars who live and work with those who are in need of help … the poor, the disenfranchised, the needy. In Detroit, they run several ministries including the “Jefferson House,” a 12-bed, 12-step residential program where residents can find hope and healing for up to 9 months. When Bill received an offer, he jumped at the chance. He currently works in one of their soup kitchens and gives full credit to the Lord for his wonderful transformation.

Bill shared that the reason for his visit this day was to thank Family of God [Lutheran Church in Detroit] for sustaining him and keeping him alive all those years so that when this opportunity came, he could take it.

Even though the old Bill was taciturn and prone to one word answers, I asked him to share his story with the Valparaiso students serving a meal at Family of God that day. He very eagerly took the opportunity and spoke for about 20 minutes about his descent into darkness, God’s provision, and His miraculous intervention. Many of the students were in tears as he spoke.

The Price of Success

There are no lost causes where Jesus is found. Family of God introduced Bill to Jesus and a promise of new life. We fed and cared for him for years, but the price of success at Family of God includes sharing how we’d love to see him and are so proud of his hard work in recovery, but that it is necessary that he stays away from our neighborhood, his old friends, and the temptations that abound.

[Tweet “There are no lost causes where Jesus is found.”]

main image via Flickr user mrehan

Help Others Like Bill in Detroit

Acts 2 Enterprise (A2E) is a strategic and holistic urban outreach initiative of the Michigan District, LCMS. Your donations to A2E go directly to impact individuals and families in Detroit. This summer, A2E is hosting two sports camps on the east and west side of Detroit. These sports camps have a Biblical focus and, in many cases, introduce the children of Detroit to Christ and the Scriptures for the first time.

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About the Author

Rev. James M. Hill is associate pastor of Christ Our Savior, Livonia and deployed to Family of God, Detroit. He has been doing inner city ministry as layman, deacon, vicar, and pastor since 1997. He is a retired Army officer and also retired program manager from General Dynamics.

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