The Long Journey of One Block

by David Apple April 20, 2014

Moses (not his real name) became a drug addict at the age of 12. He had been through the court system, in shelters, institutions, jails, “becoming very knowledgeable about evil ways.” At the age of 25 he had a job, an apartment, a girlfriend, and a car. Moses says that he thought he had it made and more. Then he lost it. “One big ride downhill,” he says, “with a strong drug and alcohol addiction, I finally wound up strung out and homeless at the corner of 18th and Spruce in Philly.” He remained sleeping on the street there on the steps of a synagogue for eight years. During this time a mercy ministry team from Tenth developed trust with him. “I began the journey of one big block to 17th and Spruce, where I would find out more about Jesus Christ in ACTS Ministries at Tenth Presbyterian Church.” After several failed recovery attempts, Moses entered a Christian drug recovery program. Through the after-care plan of ACTS Ministries, he secured housing, work, and support. Moses reconciled with his wife and children. He has also provided a way for his brother, also an addict, to find help through ACTS. Here is how he tells his life story:

One block away from knowing and accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal savior, my life had been just one ride after another. I come from the city of Paterson, New Jersey, where I grew up with three brothers and two sisters. Life seemed to be great, but a closer look would show a dysfunctional, messed up family. My mother and father were both alcoholics who left us children unmanaged and unmanageable. I stopped going to school at the age of 12. By this time, I was a drug addict who was wandering away from home. I called it adventuring. The court system called it running away from home. I found myself in shelters, institutions, and jails, becoming very knowledgeable about evil ways, but somehow I knew I would be different or at least wanted to be. When I was 16, I came to Philly to look for my father. My mother was very sick, in and out of nursing homes, and unable to help us. I needed guidance bad, I needed something. When I got to Philly, my father had already left for Tennessee, but my grandmother was here, and this is where, I believe, the Lord had set the stage for my future. My grandmother was a born-again Christian, but I was not saved, nor was I ready to be. I would just come to visit her, but not stay. I was homeless but did not know it—roaming the streets, adventuring again, feeling no pain.

Under God’s plan things began to move real fast. I found myself a job, an apartment, a girlfriend, and a car. I thought I had it made and more. Then I lost it all in one big downhill ride. With a strong drug and alcohol addiction, I finally wound up strung out and homeless outside Temple Beth Zion–Beth Israel, where I began the journey of one big block to Tenth’s ACTS Ministries at 17th and Spruce, where I would find out more about Jesus Christ. At Tenth the doors were opened for me to see a wonderful God. He truly spoke to me and this time I heard him. A 90-day rehab program allowed me to know Christ, and that’s where I accepted him as my personal Lord and Savior. But this story doesn’t stop here. The struggles of being a newborn Christian were to come after I graduated. All that I learned was done in a protective environment. When I returned to Philly I had to put that Bible teaching—and God’s will—to a test. I had to learn how to really trust in the Lord, surrender my all to the Lord, and pick up my cross and walk with it every day. I had to put on the whole armor of God. You see, as a new believer, I tried to walk before I could crawl, and fell on the first three steps. But just like a parent who is there to pick up the child, the Lord was there to pick me up and dust me off, and for that I am totally grateful. Today I walk with the Spirit guiding me. I know that it is no longer I, but Christ in me who makes my every move. Thanks be to God for Tenth Presbyterian Church and ACTS Ministries. My life is now a Christian reality. It was worth the one-block walk.