Bryan stood alone on a St. Paul street corner, holding a cardboard sign, begging for money. He didn’t know which was colder – the brisk October air, or the isolation he felt from being ignored by almost everyone who drove by.
He’d been homeless for four years, sometimes spending the night at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center in Minneapolis (pictured).
Finally, a car stopped next to Bryan. He was eager for a handout. But when the driver rolled down the car window, Bryan’s excitement turned to shock.
There, sitting in the front seats, were his parents. Bryan couldn’t believe it.
“Are you going to do this the rest of your life?” his father asked.
Bryan didn’t know what to say. “Yes, I think so,” is all he replied.
His parents drove away. It was Bryan’s lowest moment.
After four years of living on the streets, Bryan had experienced many other moments that were nearly as terrible. Like the time he lost a toe to frostbite and nearly had his foot amputated. And the time a bullet grazed his head after he was robbed at gunpoint. And the time he overdosed on heroin and almost died.
But those moments didn’t quite measure up to this one. Those moments dealt only with physical pain. This moment of emotional pain was far more excruciating.
Within weeks, Bryan checked himself into treatment. He’d been to nine different treatment programs before, but this time was different.
This time, Bryan committed his life to Jesus Christ. He has not touched drugs since.
That life-changing moment between Bryan and his parents happened in 2015.
Today, Bryan’s life is much different. The 27-year-old is happy, hard-working, and sober.
He is also a proud husband and father. He and his wife, Natalie, have a 6-month-old daughter named Maya (pictured).
“God restored my relationships with my family and led me into a relationship with a woman who shares my same faith, values, and morals – a woman who I am now blessed to call my wife.” Bryan said. “The support of my loved ones was so important to my healing.”
Maya has opened Bryan’s eyes to the love a father feels for his child. He now understands how his parents must have felt when they saw him struggling with addiction and begging for money.
“My parents always call it the story of the prodigal son,” said Bryan, whose addiction first began when he got his wisdom teeth pulled and became addicted to pain meds. “They were waiting for me with open arms the whole time, just as God was. God is waiting for everyone. When we take that leap of faith, amazing things happen.”
Bryan is now committed to raising his family the same way his parents raised him.
“They raised me up in the church, to have faith, to be with family,” Bryan said. “They did everything right. A lot of people grew up victims of their environment, but I was not one of them. I learned very quickly that addiction doesn’t discriminate.”
Bryan now works for the same organization that helped him when he was down and out: The Salvation Army.
He was hired in 2016 and has since moved up the ladder, earning the title of manager at the Salvation Army Store in Burnsville. He loves working for The Salvation Army because he believes in its mission.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to work for an organization that helps people who are in the same situation as I once was,” Bryan said.
He also likes his job because it allows him to minister to others who are experiencing the same trials he once endured.
“I remind people to focus on today, to focus on God, and to focus on staying sober,” Bryan said. “In recovery, you are only one bad decision away from going back to your old way of living.”
Bryan will never forget what The Salvation Army did for him.
“They gave me a warm bed at night and they fed me breakfast every morning,” he said. “They gave me hope when I was hopeless.”
The Salvation Army Northern Division pledges to do the most good with your gifts of time and money, with 81 cents of every dollar going directly to services. Join us by volunteering or making a donation to support your local community. Stay current on how The Salvation Army is changing lives in Minnesota and North Dakota by signing up for our e-Newsletters.