Being a good dad doesn’t happen by accident. Providing for a family takes intentionality, commitment and love.
Dwight grew up in a good home. He grew up in the church and his parents were committed to loving him well. But at 15 years-old, Dwight went searching for a new family, one that would let him live a life that he wanted—no rules, no convictions. “I joined a gang when I was 15,” he says. “My parents were there for me; they treated me right, but I was looking for a different kind of family.”
Dwight spent 15 years in a gang. During that time he began a family of his own, and while his son, Jonathan, was growing up, Dwight was living on the streets in California doing what people in gangs do. “I didn’t care about anything, not even hygiene. I wouldn’t change my shoes, and I remember one time my wife had to peel the socks off my feet. I didn’t go home often, but I’d go for a month or so, and when I did, I’d sleep for days.”
All the while, Jonathan was at home with his mom. “It wasn’t the easiest childhood,” says Jonathan. “At one point my dad wasn’t home at all. Then he was there on and off, but when he was at home, deep down, he knew he wanted to stay there. I think he had to defeat whatever it was keeping him on the streets.”
Gang life and drugs were keeping Dwight from being a good father. “For a long time, I had no convictions of what I did and who I did it to,” says Dwight. “I had a choice, and I chose the streets, the gang and drugs over my family.”
One day, when Dwight went back for getaway from the street, his wife said enough was enough. “She told me that until I got help, I couldn’t come home. She allowed me to wash clothes and shower, but then she said, ‘you have to go.’ She wouldn’t let me sleep there anymore.”
Dwight was homeless for 10 months before he reached out to Denver Rescue Mission.
In May 2017, he joined the Next Step community and three weeks later he was accepted into the New Life Program. “The New Life Program…it basically saved my life,” says Dwight. “I’ve been through too much; I’ve been beat down, left for dead. I’ve done been through it all, but I’m here now. I remember where I came from, but the first time in my life, I know where I’m going.”
During his time in the program, Dwight has reconnected with Jonathan. The two are still navigating their relationship and strengthening it, but it’s never been so good. “This is the best Father’s Day I’ve had, says Dwight. “I’ve missed out on a lot. And a lot of that I can’t get back. But I’m here now; I’m not a part-time dad. I’m a full-time dad, and I’m living for Jesus and my children.”
‘I’m glad that he’s here and doing what he has to do,” says Jonathan. “Our relationship is top notch. If I have questions, I know who to ask; he’s stepping into the role of my father.”
At the Mission, we love hearing stories of redemption and families reconnected — like Dwight and Jonathan — especially around Father’s Day when we’re reminded of the vast impact that our fathers have in our lives. Happy Father’s Day from our Mission family to yours.