By Joseph Austin, Students’ Association treasurer
This past spring break Mireya Reyes and I led a group of nine people to Los Angeles to work with the Dream Center. The Dream Center is a volunteer driven organization filling the needs of more than 50,000 people every month. The Dream Center does it all from mobile hunger relief, medical programs, residential rehabilitation programs to a shelter for victims of human trafficking. Our team was able to put on a kids camp in Compton and feed hundreds of homeless on Skid Row near downtown Los Angeles.
One of the great things as well was their discipleship program, which is a yearlong program that gives men and women the opportunity to get help in a number of ways, many for drug addictions.
This program caught my attention for a number of reasons. One of which was the sheer number of people in the discipleship programs. There were more than 200 men and women who were giving up their lives voluntarily to be a part of these programs. Another reason is that my dad got clean from drugs in a similar program in Los Angeles nearly two years ago. When I saw the disciples I saw my dad. I saw the pain in their eyes and the hope for healing and reconciliation they were seeking. I knew a lot of them didn’t have anywhere to go, because my dad didn’t.
One day, I was able to share my testimony to a small group of the disciples and what an amazing audience I had. When I told my story, I was able to tell what it was like having a father addicted to cocaine, breaking a family apart and what the consequences were of his actions, but a testimony never has an end. It’s always going somewhere. God is always doing something. I was then able to tell them all about my dad getting clean in Los Angeles and putting drugs and addiction behind and letting grace and love drown his past. I was able to share that hope and reconciliation is possible, and God has shown me that in more ways than one.
Today, my dad works at Impact Church of Christ and is a part of the recovery home where he mentors those going through situations that were all too common to him. My prayer for all of the people we met and the experiences we shared was not for them to remember the name Joseph or Genna or Gao, but the name Jesus.