Terry and Lisa’s story is really about the power of relationships. Relationships with TRM staff, with other guests, with each other, and most importantly a relationship with Jesus Christ. Terry described his life as being in total shambles. “I did what I wanted, when I wanted and didn’t care to who; it didn’t matter. I knew there was something missing.” Lisa described her life as being chaotic. “I was in a bad marriage, so I was in and out of the Mission. I came in 2013 and joined the SIT program. I attended chapel regularly and stayed in church.”
When Terry came to TRM he met Ms. Nell Ritchey. “She totally changed my life and got me on the right track. I came to TRM because I was trying to overcome alcoholism. I had already given up drugs, but I kept drinking until I joined the SIT program in 2011, graduated in 2012, but I did not stay in my walk with the Lord and slowly got away from Him. Eventually I fell back into drinking again. I got back on track again when I joined the CBLD program and ever since then it has just been awesome. My life has changed so much. I met Lisa while going through the program. I struggled with alcoholism for a long time, but now I focus all my energy on the Lord first and Lisa next.” Terry and Lisa both understand their relationship with the Lord is the most important relationship they can have.
After the SIT program, Terry was roommates with Chad Phillips and they became good friends. “As I continued to struggle with alcoholism. Chad challenged me to join CBLD. He was doing all he could to help me, but finally told me that he couldn’t keep giving me money and things needed to change. I knew he was right. Chad told me about the CBLD two-year program that they were getting ready to start. I joined as soon as I could. I love the CBLD program now and even go back and help teach two days a week. I just love talking about the Lord and what He has done for me and what He can do for them. I am glad to be able to do for them what others have done for me.”
The importance and depth of the relationship between Lisa and Terry shines through when you talk with them. When asked how the two met, Lisa smiled shyly, and Terry shared “I had just gotten moved to the north side and was walking down the hallway and there’s Lisa with her two friends and I knew one of her friends. She says, “Lisa, I want you to meet Terry.” I said, “Hi Lisa.” Lisa and I became friends and then worked together at the DC. She used to be real timid and didn’t like to walk alone so I would walk with her to Kwik Shop. Through that we became really good friends. Then, one day we noticed we started having feelings for each other. This is the honest truth – I said, “Lisa, will you be my girlfriend?” I have never asked a girl that in my entire life. She looked at me with a look of “yeah, what took you so long!?” It all got started with that one shy moment.”
“When I graduated, I knew that my life had changed forever and had tears in my eyes when I graduated. I knew that I was getting married. My life had started anew and that old life was over – it HAD to be; there was no way I could go back to it now. I knew I couldn’t drag her through the gutter with me; that wouldn’t be right. I realized that I had finally made it to the other side. I had seen other people make it over there and waved at them, but I had never been there. I now understand what everybody has been telling me - my mentors, Chad, Ms. Nell, Jeff, Ms. Kay – just everybody that has been involved in my life here at TRM – I see it now. It was then that I realized I was over there and now telling my friends to come. That was the best point in my life – when I knew I had changed.”
Terry and Lisa knew it would be time to leave the mission once they married. “We went to Ms. Nell and told her, “This is the deal, we want to be a couple at the Mission in the program.” Because at the time, they frowned upon starting up a relationship in the middle of the SIT program. I had money saved up and we were prepared to leave, but we actually wanted to finish the program and be in line with God so waited until we finished the program before getting married and moving out. I promised Lisa that before we get married I will find a place to live. I secured a place to live and she would come visit but would return to stay at the Mission. Once we completed the program, we got married and it has been a wonderful journey.”
When asked about the most important thing the Mission offers to our guests. Lisa quickly said, “The most important thing that TRM offers guests is a relationship with Christ.” Terry added, “TRM offers guests a chance to rebuild their lives; a chance to see what life is like on the other side of what they are used to. A lot of us that come in here were never homeless but became homeless because of the drugs and alcohol we kept using. It’s a great chance to see the other side of the coin; that there can be a better life if you choose.”
“Since we moved out of the mission, what has helped to keep me on track is that I want to know as much as I can how to live the life the Lord wants us to live. Most of our conversations in the morning are about Him - we listen to Christian radio stations; I cut back on the amount of TV I watch; we go to Bible study; we mentor two nights a week at the Mission. It is good to have Lisa come with me. It is helpful to have female insight since there are females in the class. It’s just all about God – that’s what got me sober, it’s how I met Lisa.
Our relationship is awesome because of what God has done. We’ve had our own spats, but it doesn’t go any further than that. We know that we love each other. I love her very much.”
“One of the challenges we’ve been able to overcome since moving out on our own is living where we are now. Our residence has had several problems and when someone comes to fix a problem, it seems like it gets worse each time. But I kept saying things are going to get better; just leave it to the Lord, it will get better. We just found out we are going to be in a new residence by the end of the month. We just kept believing. That is how we overcome any obstacle that tries to stop us. We know the Lord didn’t get us this far just to abandon us. We just know that we keep doing what He wants us to do and pretty soon He will say “These guys are working pretty hard down here” and He will give us what we need to keep going. It will be nice to have our own house.” Lisa added “We know our new home will be much better because our pastor is going to be our landlord.”
While working at the distribution center, Terry used to tell people “just stop fighting the rules and do what you have to do. You will see that things will change. At first, some just want to be left alone. I understand that. I try to encourage people to hang in there. Most people at TRM know me and see the change in me and will tell me “I just want what you got”. I remind them they need to do what I did.
We are constantly praying and talking about others that might need our prayers. We are always just talking about what the Lord has already done and what He’s gonna do. It’s just the way we are. It’s how we want to live our lives. We want to walk that road – Ms. Nell used to tell us “There are two roads; there is the wide road and the narrow road. Jesus is up there right now waving at us saying, ‘I am going this way, are you coming?’” Well, that is the road we are on now. We are on the narrow road with Him finally. I just love talking about it. I love to teach, and I know that’s what I have been asked to do. The Lord gave me a gift to talk about Him all the time. So yeah, He is constantly in our lives – all the time.”
Terry wants others to know, “It’s ok to be scared. I was. It was a total life change for me down there from running the streets to all of a sudden having to follow the rules. I just wanna say to anyone who is coming in to the Mission to not be down on yourself so much that you don’t want to give it a chance. I know I was scared when I first walked into that place. I didn’t know what to do – I wanted to go back to my beer can. At first I would have rather gone back to my beer can than have someone tell me what to do. I used to tell them “Man, I know it’s hard; I’ve been there.” The best thing that anyone ever told me was “always remember where you came from because you know you don’t want to go back.
When I started to work at the front desk, the guy that worked the front desk was the one who told me to remember where I came from because you know how the people on the other side of the window feel. I try to never forget that. When I meet new people there, I try to remember how I felt when I first came here. It’s nothing to be worried about. I want people who donate and volunteer for TRM to know what they do is a tremendous blessing for everyone involved. It eases the mind of people that work here. It eases the mind of the people knowing that they get food here; appliances, whatever they need. It just helps out. One thing I would like to remind people is that the journey is never going to be over. We are always going to be growing. If you definitely want a life in Christ, the Mission is a good place to start. I am so glad I came back and went through the CBLD program. I am glad that TRM offers people like me a chance. I think that anybody who really wants something, they can get it through the mentors and help there. I think TRM is just AWESOME!”