Angel: ‘When God calls me home, I want to leave on a good note’

Angel was raised in an environment where drinking was the norm. It wasn’t just socially acceptable—it was expected. “I come from a social family where everyone drinks alcohol,” he said. “It was just part of the culture in Mexico, and it was part of my upbringing.”

Angel moved to the United States from Mexico in 1984, when he was just 17. He became a believer in 2004, but didn’t buy in completely. “It was just about being a part of a community,” he said. “I didn’t really accept Christ as my Lord and Savior.”

Angel got married, but it didn’t last and the couple divorced. It was then that he became addicted to meth. He tried rehab in 2010 and was successful at staying sober for six years. But for the last five years, Angel has been living in his addiction once again. “I started to backslide,” he said. “I disconnected myself from church and from my friends. I was functioning—I’d go to work and then have a beer after. I procrastinated getting help, because, to be honest, I didn’t want to stop drinking.”

Angel became homeless, and then received some distressing news. “My dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer,” he said. “I was very close with my dad. I was told he would die in two weeks. He’s a fighter, though, and was able to survive for two months. His diagnosis, that was a crucial point in my life. With (my dad’s death), I made the decision to get help. I knew if I didn’t go to rehab, I’d just get deeper into the alcohol and drugs. If I didn’t get help, I don’t know if I would be still alive.”

Angel got a hold of Rick, program manager at Renewed Hope, the Mission’s new men’s recovery program. “I came in that day. I had been drinking, but I shared my story with Rick and Chaz (program assistant). It was amazing. Despite the fact that I had alcohol in me, they prayed over me. They showed me compassion. And they told me if I could stay sober for 24 hours, to come back, and they could help me.”

Angel returned, and has been in the program for six months. “Coming here, I knew God had a plan for me,” he said. “This house is amazing. Making the decision to get clean and sober, it’s not easy. It’s scary. The staff here, they give us not just the love of Christ, but patience to help us get through any situation.

“I don’t have a court order—I just decided to stop drinking and using drugs. That’s my desire. I’m 52. I’m not young. I want to achieve this goal, to graduate, to learn, to get a job, and to be involved in my church. I took God into my recovery, and I know he will give me victory.”

Angel said has time so far has been “an incredible journey. I’m very grateful to God to be in this place, restoring my life and being a disciple of Jesus,” he said. “My relationship with God has gotten deeper. I’m using every resource the mission has provided for me and I’m excited to be a good member of society. And if it’s God’s will, to be involved in ministry, and give back to the community.”

Angel plans on moving into transitional housing, going back to work, and staying involved in church. “I wouldn’t have ever thought that I’d be enjoying my recovery,” Angel said with a laugh. “I remember one of the reasons I wouldn’t go to rehab was that I just couldn’t see my life without Jack Daniels and Coke. But it’s such a good feeling to be sober, to do normal things, work out, go to church, go to work, and fellowship with people.

“When God calls me home, I want to leave on a good note. They’ll say, ‘He struggled, but he became a believer. He was the type of guy to help all people, to do outreach, to feed the homeless. He’s a good guy.’ I don’t want to leave as a troublemaker who never got it right.”