Steven pictured with Chaplain Dan Dilley
365—the number of days Steven had been sober. As he sat on the bus back from his 12 Step Fellowship meeting, he rubbed his one-year chip between his fingers and contemplated how far he had come in that time to overcome his addiction to cocaine.
He had been in the Mission’s New Life Program (NLP) for 10 months and had found a temporary job. He felt fulfilled in the work he was doing, but was told a week prior that his time at the company would be ending soon. Steven had just accomplished something incredible—an entire year of being sober—yet, the thought of his job ending was weighing heavily on his mind as he took the bus back to The Crossing.
In the midst of all his thoughts, he hopped off the bus to catch the next connecting bus back. When he got off the bus he saw an old friend of his smoking cocaine.
“I’m watching him, and I knew that bus was notorious for drugs,” Steven said. “I went up to him and said ‘man, let me have just one hit of that.’ Of course, when you take one hit, it flips the whole script.”
“Be the example–that’s the best way I can help people experiencing homelessness.”
Steven didn’t return to his room at The Crossing that evening. Instead he spent the next three months using drugs, sleeping at the Lawrence Street Shelter or his car, and staying on the streets. He found himself once again at a low point in his life, not sure which direction to take.
“I remember sitting outside the Lawrence Street Shelter thinking how lost I had become. I thought, I’m better than this, a homeless crackhead. I realized the path I’m on will only lead to death,” Steven said.
Steven tried several other programs around Denver since he left, but always felt Jesus pulling him back to the Mission. After a great deal of thought, Steven was determined to re-enter the New Life Program. He admitted that his first time in the program his mindset wasn’t clear and he was simply just going through the motions.
“It’s all about Jesus,” Steven says. “You know the name of the Mission’s building downtown? It’s ‘Jesus Saves.’ That’s it—Jesus saves us!”
Feeling humbled by the past three months, Steven applied for the program and was accepted back in November of 2018. The Park Hill neighborhood, where The Crossing resides and where Steven was headed back to, was one he was all too familiar with—one he had known since he was 5-years-old. Steven’s childhood home sits nestled only blocks away from the program he was about to re-enter. It was at that house where Steven grew up, where he had his first smoke of marijuana, and where his life began to turn toward a path of drugs and addiction. However, heading back to this neck of the woods would be different this time around.
This time, he was set on being successful in all aspects of the program for himself, his family, but most importantly for his relationship with Jesus. He had seen really big miracles from people who followed the program. And, he was determined to be one this time around. In fact, in 2018 84 men graduated from the New Life Program.
Since Steven’s back in the program, he’s worked diligently in all aspects of the NLP to better himself by staying sober, learning how to become self-sufficient and becoming closer to Jesus. The computer, resume and authentic manhood classes are several learning opportunities that Steven says have helped him as he moves toward the life he has always envisioned. More importantly Steven says his relationship with his chaplain, Dan, is something that truly helped him become successful this time around. Steven often says, “I couldn’t have gotten this far without my chaplain.”
In April, Steven entered the working phase of the program and secured a job at a restaurant in downtown Denver—something he could only dream about several months prior as he sat outside the Mission addicted to drugs. When he’s asked about how he overcame so much hardship, he doesn’t skip a beat and says, “The New Life Program.”
With four months left in his program, Steven is embracing his new job opportunity and the expertise the NLP staff has to offer. He has high hopes of being the best version of himself in order to be the example for others who went through the same life experiences as he did.
“Be the example—that’s the best way I can help people experiencing homelessness,” Steven says. “If they see me doing good and they know I was out there on the streets with them…maybe someone will say, I can do it too. To someone who is struggling—there is a solution.”
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A Chaplain’s Care
For many of the men in the New Life Program, having access to a chaplain to lead and guide them is key to their success. Steven says he wouldn’t be where he is today without his chaplain, Dan Dilley. Learn more from Dan about how a chaplain plays an integral part in a participant’s journey.
HOW DO CHAPLAINS BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH NEW LIFE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS?
The chaplain gets to spend literally hours and hours with the person, discussing things, as they are comfortable, at every end of the spectrum. In doing this we start to build trust and relationship. People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR A PARTICIPANT TO HAVE A CHAPLAIN AS A PART OF THIS JOURNEY?
The chaplain prays for the participant on a regular basis. We like to say, “I can’t give you a new life but I know the One who can, and I’m going to point you to Him. His name is Jesus!” Plus, the chaplain is engaged in helping the men with important things like getting an ID, getting a Driver’s License, getting teeth, getting glasses, obtaining needed services, dealing with debt, dealing with legal issues, and the like.
WHAT IS IT LIKE BEING STEVEN’S CHAPLAIN?
Being a chaplain is the purest form of ministry I’ve ever been involved in. There are people waiting in line to allow us to tell them about the One who can give them a new life! That is amazing. What a privilege and honor to do this! Lord, help us to do this in a way that brings glory to Your Name!
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