Welcomed as a Stranger

unnamedkarm mission

 

I was in desperate need of a home of my own and a job. My current (and temporary) residence was a federal halfway house nestled in the east side of town. I was sent there after I was released from a 7 year, eight month prison bid.

After being at the halfway house for two months with not even a call back from the 70 plus jobs I applied for, my counselor met with me to tell me that he would be releasing me to the homeless shelter next month when my time was up at the halfway house. To add a little good to this meeting, he told me that the homeless shelter he was planning to send me to was one of the best in the country. He then gave me three public bus passes and told me to go and see it for myself.

When the bus stopped at Knox Area Rescue Ministries, I sunk deeper into pessimism and stress. One of the thoughts that roamed my mind was, “how could God give me this outcome after I worked so hard to stay out of trouble this time?” My past life of selling illegal drugs had landed me in prison at a very young age and God had saved me through my incarceration. When I was released from prison, I did what God told me to do and started pursuing the legal life and spending time with my son, who was seven years old at the time. But since I’d been out of prison, it seemed like stumbling blocks were in every step of this new direction.

The homeless shelter was a huge two story building that sat in the middle of downtown. The sidewalks in the front of the building were crowded with homeless men, women, and children. They were all carrying bags. I must have got there during chow time because there was a long line forming at the entrance of the shelter.

Tears came rushing down my face when I realized this was about to be my home. This was not where I wanted to be in life, but I told myself that this is where my previous life decisions had landed me. I hopped back on the bus and headed back to the halfway house.

With tears still running down my face, I prayed, “Lord if this is your will for me, please give me the strength to deal with it”. When I lifted my head I felt a relief from fear. And then I saw a thrift store sign. What really got me was this thrift store was owned by KARM, the homeless shelter I’d just left.

I got off of the bus and went into the store and asked to speak with a manager. A short grey haired lady came from the back and said that she was the manager. She then asked if she could help me with anything. Right then and there, I told her that I was in desperate need of a job and then shared my testimony with her. At the end of the meeting I was in tears, which I tried to wipe away with the bottom of my dingy white dress shirt. She gave me a hug and told me that I had come to the right place because KARM was the home of second chances. Not with just the donated used items that they turned into a treasure each and everyday, but also for the lives that they rescue and restore daily within the walls of there ministry. I filled out an application and then left there with renewed hope.

Two days later the director of the halfway house called me into his office to ask if I’d found a job or a place to stay yet. I told him no and he then told me that today just might be a good day for me. He went on to say that he knew a guy that was looking for help at his janitorial service. He explained that he was a great guy and had given people jobs there in the past. I told him that I was very interested and thanked him for thinking of me.

He called the owner of the janitorial service and gave him a mouth full about me. Fifteen minutes later, I was meeting with the owner. He immediately asked me if I was a Christian. I said yes, and then shared my testimony with him. The next day he hired me.

About a week later, the owner of the janitorial service invited me to his church and while visiting I met two college students who where looking for a roommate. A week later, I moved in with the two college students and started getting my son on a regular basis.

And then I was hired at KARM Stores. The grace of God was very evident in my life. Instead of living at KARM, I became a full time employee at KARM Stores.  WOW!!!!

Today, almost seven years later, I’m the manager of the very KARM Stores location where I first applied for a job. When I think of KARM,  Matthew 25:35 comes to mind. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

God is good and He works through ministries like KARM to restore lives that have been shattered by past mistakes. I love KARM and I thank God for making me part of KARM’s story.

 

Nathan H
Retail Team
KARM Stores on Hall of Fame Drive



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