Finding Freedom – Keith and Jessica’s Story
Jessica came to the Mission’s Hope Center for the first time in 2012 with her two daughters who were aged nine and four at the time. Entering the doors for the first time was a hard decision to make, but one she knew was necessary for her and her children. “I knew I had no other choice.” Jessica and her girls moved out after a short stay and did well for nearly two years. During that time, she married and gave birth to her third little girl. When her husband, Keith, was laid off from his job, the family landed back at the Hope Center with no place else to turn.
From the very beginning of their relationship, Keith did everything he could to provide for his family. He eventually regained employment and faithfully rode his bicycle twelve miles back and forth to work every day from the Mission even in the rain, snow, heat and cold. Sadly, this was the family’s only mode of transportation as they owned no vehicle and no buses ran near his job. Regardless of the hardships and challenges, the family stayed positive and remained persistent in their determination to move forward. In time, their efforts paid off. After seven months of taking one day at a time and actively working on their goals, the family was able to pay off former debts and obtain their own housing in the community. They have since obtained their own vehicle and are expecting another little girl.
Jessica recalls the challenges her family experienced while living at the Hope Center. In addition to the other adjustments that occur when experiencing homelessness, attempting to care for three small children while adapting to a new environment is no small feat. Her two older girls were old enough to understand the concept of living in a homeless shelter which made the transition even more difficult. Jessica and Keith wanted to do everything they could to save money but at the same time knew they had to provide family activities outside of the Mission during their stay to make life easier on the children as well. Finding the balance and helping the girls to understand was not always easy, especially with a one-year old.
Though there were obvious discomforts and trials for the family during their stay, there were nuggets of blessing and shimmers of hope as well. They can’t say enough positive about the Mission’s staff and the help they received. Whether it was a washcloth or a package of diapers, a bed to sleep in or a meal to eat, needs were supplied in a way that gave the family assurance that they would make it and obtain the freedom from homelessness they so desired.
Overcoming obstacles together also caused their family and marriage to grow stronger. Living in such close proximity – sharing one small room between the five of them – allowed them both a greater insight into the struggles each one faced. “Seeing each other’s obstacles and challenges helped us to become more sensitive to one another.” For Jessica, she gained a deeper appreciation of the daily sacrifice Keith made to provide for his family. Similarly, Keith was able to see more clearly the exertion and efforts that Jessica faithfully put into caring for their children every day. Had the Mission’s expansion efforts (which include the development of a children’s center) been complete while they were at the Hope Center, their stay would have been much easier. Because of the needs of their smallest child, there was no opportunity for Jessica to obtain employment which would have helped the family save money and obtain their own housing faster. Instead, she had no other option but to stay at the Mission during the day and care for their child while the other girls were in school. Having a safe place for their youngest daughter to go while she worked would have made a tremendous impact and helped them to overcome the obstacles of homelessness a lot sooner.
Thankfully, Keith and Jessica possessed the drive and motivation to work together to overcome. They are described by Mission staff as a hard-working and determined family that managed to stay positive through all of the unfortunate circumstances they at one time faced. They could have focused solely on the negative and given into the hopelessness that homelessness often births; but instead they chose to join hands, work together and do what was necessary to move forward in life.
We all have the same choice. Life is not always fair and there are frequently unforeseen circumstances we become faced with that make us wonder if we will ever make it through. Recognizing that regardless of the trial, freedom is attainable, helps us gain the strength we need to continue placing one foot in front of the next. And we never have to take those steps alone. Christ Jesus came to give us the ultimate freedom in life.
FREEDOM from darkness…
FREEDOM from sin… and
FREEDOM from believing we ever are walking through life alone.
We are grateful for your support and the way you have helped Keith, Jessica, their children and so many others find freedom in their lives. Our prayer is that, just as they were able to overcome and move forward, God would grace you with the ability to embrace Jesus Christ and walk in the abundant life of freedom He has to give. Many blessings to you and thank you for the many ways you show compassion to those who are in need.
Pictures are of former Hope Center guests Keith and Jessica and their three daughters.