"If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?" Matthew 18:12 (NLT)
Eric's favorite story is about starfish. It goes like this:
There was a man taking a walk along the beach one morning, and he saw a woman in the distance, seemingly dancing. As he got closer, he realized that she was throwing something out into the sea. Closer still, he saw the objects she was throwing: starfish—thousands upon thousands of them. He approached her and said, "You can't possibly make a difference here. There are so many of them!" She picked up a single starfish, threw it into the ocean and said, "I made a difference for that one." It's a simple story, but a powerful one.
When Eric talks to others about Denver Rescue Mission's donors, he always tells this story. He feels like one starfish that a donor cared about. "They don't know who I am. They have no reason to help me. I could never repay them. There is honestly no monetary gift I could give to repay what they've given me," Eric says, choking back tears.
The way the Mission has impacted Eric's life is so evident. He can barely finish a sentence without referencing it. After prematurely leaving the program in 2009, he graduated in March of 2014. His graduation did not come without significant effort on his part and a community of staff, program participants and donors to carry him through.
"While I was at the Farm the first time, I really wanted to be sober. It was all I could think about. But I was trying to make the things they said and did fit into my life. I didn't fail because the Farm failed. I failed because I was trying to manipulate sobriety," he remembers.
After leaving, his addiction progressed. He was in the hospital 20 times in one year, going through withdrawal each time. He was on the brink of death.
"I wanted to stop, but I couldn't. I wanted my life to be normal. I wanted the consequences of my drinking to be gone, but I didn't want to take the steps to make that happen. I wanted to keep drinking. Until you're done, you're not done. This was my life until 2013 when I came here the second time," Eric explains.
He continues: "This time, I didn't care what anyone said or asked of me, I would do it. My ego was gone. Addicts have this amazing egotism, myself included. My success was a result of absolute commitment. I was done." Eric had to get over himself before he could get over his addiction. He felt different this time, surrendered. And staff saw a distinct change in him, too. "The first time Eric was here, he wanted to have the program happen to him. The second time around, he didn't just passively take in what was happening but actively participated. He really radically changed. He took instruction, listened and applied it very well," says Brad Rhoda, Manager of Operations at the Farm.
The Farm employees were a crucial piece of Eric's recovery: "The staff and the people here are amazing. What makes this place is relationships. If you need sobriety, you can go to AA. There are many ways to find sobriety. But I needed my life to change; I needed it to turn around. They call it the New Life Program, and it's true, I have a new life."
Eric used to pray each night, asking God to take away his addiction, hoping to wake up and be healed. "What I didn't realize was that God does take it away, but I had to do the work. Being with God doesn't mean that things are easy. But now, it's not more than I can handle," he explains.
Eric has done very well since graduating. He got his old job back and has stable housing living with another New Life program graduate. He credits the Farm for all of this success: "The Farm is the catalyst for all that to occur. In the chaos of the world, I couldn't find peace. I couldn't stop or slow down enough. The Farm took care of my basic needs and gave me relationships that showed me that I'm not defined by my alcoholism—I'm defined by my relationship with Jesus Christ."
Eric recognizes the value of each dollar given to the Mission. He knows the support he received at the Farm came from people like you, people who care. Thank you for believing in Eric and for supporting Denver Rescue Mission!
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Eric's story was featured in the August 2014 issue of Changing Lives titled "One Matters."
Also in this issue:
- Letter from the CEO
- Denver Rescue Mission Rafting Trip
- Volunteer Information & Tour Sessions
- Did you know the Mission has a blog?