Steve Cowan gives honor to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who helped him through his struggles. He never knew 48 years ago, after being in special education, that he would go from a 2nd-grade to an 11th-grade reading level and also would also earn his high school diploma while at the Mission. It took 16 months, but through God’s help, Steve persevered. He now works at the Clock Tower in housekeeping and plans to attend Rock Valley College in January for a mini-certification in Electrical and Electronics Maintenance. He has never had a driver’s license, but now is studying to acquire one. He is also an usher at Progressive Baptist Church.
“God has been good and I am grateful to everyone at the Mission who has supported and encouraged me,” Steve says. His favorite Bible passage is Psalm 121:1-3 -- “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; He that keeps thee will not slumber.”
Before Joseph Gemmell came to Rockford, he was living in a run-down hotel room. It was a place to escape reality, people and, most of all, the truth. Whenever he would begin to feel pain, he would inject himself with heroin. But the last time he injected heroin, Joseph felt himself losing consciousness. He had overdosed. When he came to, he was lying on the filthy carpet with his head hurting and bleeding.
Today, Joseph says, “God in His infinite mercy and grace chose life over death and gave me another chance. Why God’s grace abounded so much in my life, I cannot answer. The one thing I do know is I will be forever grateful and thankful to God. He didn’t give me what I deserved, which is death and hell. Instead he crowned me with a crown and made me His child and an heir to His kingdom.”
Jeff Kruse was born and raised in Illinois. However, in 2003 he moved to Oregon to start over because drug addiction was destroying his life. But his addiction only intensified, so two years later he returned to Illinois. He had a plan, but God had a different one. Jeff found himself with limited resources, so he reluctantly came to the Mission. He only planned to stay a couple of days; however, while speaking to a Men’s Crisis Program counselor, he learned about the New Day Program. He entered the program Jan. 21, 2005. He felt it prepared him for the Men’s Life Recovery Program, where he learned to draw near to the Lord and trust in Him to be drug-free. Jeff obtained his GED at the Mission and began Rock Valley College last August.
“This is exciting because I never thought I’d ever get my life together and be able to have a decent career,” he says. “This program really changed my life. The dedicated staff at the Mission honestly cares. A special thanks to You, Jesus, for your amazing gift of salvation, which is free to whoever asks. I love You so much.”
On June 23, 2005, Harry Zimmer’s life crashed down around him. But God had already begun a new journey in his life. Sitting in a jail cell (again), Harry had realized he had a problem and could not live life drinking and taking drugs anymore. He prayed, and God listened! Out of jail, Harry came to the Mission and began the Men’s Life Recovery Program. God took an out-of-control life and, through love and understanding, brought Harry on a journey into sobriety.
As Harry went through the Recovery Program, his life began to change. He now not only has a relationship with God but has also learned to care for himself and others. He learned how to love, how to forgive and how to feel again…without using.
“I now look forward to the future and continue to praise God for all the miracles in my life,” he says.
Harry attends Woodside General Baptist Church and God has blessed him with a job as a cook at a local restaurant.
Phillip LaRoche was born into a world of alcoholism. His family often played cards and drank all night. Phil started drinking when he was 15. When his parents found out, instead of getting angry, they told him, “Just drink in front of us. We don’t want you drinking and driving and getting killed.”
Phil began to drink even more. Later while playing in rock-and-roll bands, he partied every night. Half the time he did not even remember stepping onto the stage. Because of his drinking problem, he went through two divorces. Later, after overdosing twice, flatlining once and having heart failure four times, his doctor said if his heart failed once more he would die. Phil decided he needed help and came to the Mission, where God-fearing people helped open his eyes to a new world of living in the Word of God.
“I praise God for my new life in Christ,” Phil says. “Now when I play my drums, I’m playing for the right reasons: to minister to others and to give God the glory!”
Phil is employed and recently received a promotion to a supervisory position.