On Friday, we were able to sit down with a man who has known of and supported Urban Purpose in many different ways throughout the years. But recently, the Lord has laid it on his heart to partner with us in more ways than he ever has in the past. This man manages a company and is willing to hire on someone we work with from time to time and give them a chance in the work force. This is a BIG DEAL.
For any business owner to knowingly hire someone who has past drug addiction and felonies, this would typically be considered “shooting yourself in the foot”. But thankfully- this particular business man knows Jesus. And we all know that if Jesus didn’t give us a second chance when we least deserved it, then none of us would be standing where we are today. It is only by His grace that we have accomplished anything worthwhile.
That is exactly what we want for the many, many people who have made (and still make) some pretty rough mistakes throughout their life. We desire for them to be given second and third chance when they definitely do not deserve them. We are constantly blown away by how God provides these open doors for our folks to walk through, baggage and all.
We wanted to share another “Never Alone” story with you. Wilkes became part of our lives in the fall of 2013 and it’s been amazing to see what all God has done in his life this past year.
My name is Wilkes, and this is how Urban Purpose has stood beside me during probably the hardest trial I’ve encountered in life. I grew up in the city of Jackson, Tennessee. I was your average kid who played sports, was involved in church, and made good grades in school. College was a turning point in my life. I had everything paid for through academic and athletic scholarships. One would think I’d have been content with the way things were going, but along with new freedoms and new scenery came new friends. I began to associate with the wrong crowd and started putting myself in situations that molded my way of thinking and my behaviors. Slowly, I started to experiment with “recreational” drugs. To me they were harmless, but as time passed I began using harder drugs. Due to certain circumstances I lost my scholarships to the university I attended and moved back home, taking my drug habits with me. Over the next 7 to 8 years my addiction got worse. I tried several different short term rehabs in Tennessee but was still not ready to change. As a last ditch effort I came to Alabama to try and change my life in a year long program, and it was here that I met Mark Jenkins and Jim McFarland from Urban Purpose. When I started this program they came and spoke with me about the services that Urban Purpose offers. They continued to visit with me as I got further along in the program. About four months into it, I made some bad choices and was kicked out of this program. Seeing as I had already exhausted my options with my parents if something like this happened, I called Mark and they came directly to me to help me figure out what I was going to do. They made no judgments about the choice I made that resulted in me getting kicked out; they were there only to help me with a plan of action. Urban Purpose took me to another recovery mission here in Birmingham to wait out 30 days before I could re-enter the same year long program. They met with me a couple of times to discuss the terms of their sponsorship back into this program. Eventually I was able to get back into it with their help. I’ve been here for almost a year now and have turned my life around by the grace of God and with the assistance of Urban Purpose and those affiliated with them. Since I’ve been back in this program, Urban Purpose began to help me make plans for what I would do when I got out. They set me up with an interview, and I was able to get the job at an electrical company where I have the opportunity to start a career. I’ve also gotten a vehicle which is a major help to someone like me coming out of this program with nothing. I came to Alabama scared and on my own, but with Urban Purpose I am never alone.
At times it can be easy to overlook how God is working all around us. He gives us the heavens and the earth, the flowers and tress, the oceans and the mountains that all shout his praise yet we can still be blind to the ways He intervenes in our every day lives. Thankfully, God knows that we’re human and is gracious to remove our blinders with an obvious move on his part from time to time. From working in the ministry on a day-to-day basis, we see God move in many different ways and he reminds us that yes, He can still move mountains.
A couple of weeks ago, one of the guys we work with was having a difficult time with his job situation. It was out of town and he relied on others for transportation and his hours were very unsteady. We picked him up one afternoon that his boss had let him off early and he began talking to us about his desire for a new, full time job. During this conversation Jim’s phone began to ring. As he answered, we continued to brainstorm different possibilities we could look into for our friend. After a fairly long phone conversation, Jim turned to him and said, “Looks like you might have a new job.”
At times like this we can be quick to chalk this up to coincidence or “good timing”, but we know the truth is that God bends down and hears the prayers of his children.
This is just one of the many ways that God works in this ministry on a daily basis. We are excited to share this story and many others with you so that together, we can praise our God as the all-knowing, all-powerful and all together majestic Father he is!