(Editor’s note: This article is was submitted by Boise Rescue Mission Ministries.)
“Death’s door.” That’s how Richard describes his life before coming to the Boise Rescue Mission last March.
Richard says in the year and a half before he joined the Mission’s New Life Discipleship and Recovery Program, he went from a casual drinker to drinking 20 hours a day. “I would go to bed about midnight, wake up around 4 a.m., and just start all over again. I was in a really dark place of pain and mourning.”
In 2010, Richard’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. “We got through it. It was difficult, but she was cancer-free in the end.
“But then, in 2018, she was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Two more tests confirmed the diagnosis as early-onset Alzheimer’s. She had in-home care for a while, and that led to a care facility.”
Richard says mourning the loss of his relationship with his wife, his “one-and-only” as he puts it, was more than he could handle on his own, but the choices he made at the time left him to do precisely that – ‘handle’ it all on his own.
“I just was having a hard time seeing my wife, my sweetheart, go the way she was, and I lost my way. I could and should have kept my eyes on Jesus, but I went to the bottle instead.”
Richard had a lot of people in his life encouraging him to stop drinking and get help, but he resisted for a long time. Then a year ago, he got very sick and couldn’t keep anything down. He went for four days without any alcohol and started to go into withdrawal. He began experiencing DTs (delirium tremens), including terrifying hallucinations.
Richard says one night he saw something or someone in his house and called the police. When the officer came, he noted that there was no one there, but also the evidence that Richard was a heavy drinker. So when Richard called again, saying someone was there, he says, “They came, as did the fire department, the paramedics, and my son and daughter-in-law.
“One of the paramedics was a pastor, and we talked for about 30 minutes. He said, ‘I can’t make you come with us since you didn’t do anything illegal, but it’s my advice that you come. We are going to take you to the hospital.’
“My daughter-in-law was just praying like crazy, and I don’t know if it was the Holy Spirit kicking me over the edge, but I finally said, ‘Okay’.”
After four days on the psych floor at the hospital, Richard knew he had to get into a program. He says, “I was all set for a 30-day gig. I could do 30 days standing on my head.” But he also knew deep down that he would leave that situation and return to drinking.
“But,” he says, “I have, hands down, the coolest daughter-in-law on the planet. She’s a bulldog. She, in large part, working in league with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is the reason I’m here. She said, ‘Dad, you know you have got to get help. You’ve got to figure this out. And you won’t be able to do it on your own’.”
Richard’s daughter-in-law had already filled out an application for him for the New Life Program. He says, “She told me, ‘Dad, this is the Program you have to do!’ Now it’s been one year since that conversation and one year in the Program.”
Before all this, Richard had a 12-year career in ministry. He says one thing he has learned in the past year is the importance of working on yourself first before you can help others. He compares it to the instructions you receive for using oxygen masks on airplanes. First, you put the mask on yourself so you can then help someone else. Richard learned how to put his spiritual oxygen mask on first through the Program, its classes, and the opportunities offered.
Richard also says he learned a new understanding of how the Holy Spirit works in his life. “The teaching my advisors have laid down is epic. Not just parts about addiction. Those are very, very good, and they’re very necessary, but also ‘The Knowledge of the Holy,’ A.W. Tozer’s work, and now I’m going through ‘The Holiness of God’ by R.C. Sproul. . . These are what really ignited my passion again, to be able to sort things out and to get back to where God wants me to be.”
After much prayer, Richard says he is not only experiencing God’s healing spiritually, but in his body as well. He says, “I went to my first gastroenterologist appointment when I got here, and I have cirrhosis of the liver. But I’m being healed. My liver numbers are good now.”
Even more than physical healing, Richard is rebuilding beautiful relationships with his family. One example he shares is that he had been searching the internet to figure out where he was going to live after finishing the Program. “I was just at a loss. Then, out at breakfast one morning, my son said, ‘Hey, Dad, we want you to come and live with us.’ I could have cried. It was amazing because I never, ever even hinted that that might be a possibility. Nobody owes me anything. I owe people, and I owe God.
“Then, a few days later, my daughter-in-law texted me. Her text said, ‘I am so incredibly grateful to have you back in our lives!’ Call me a millionaire or a billionaire! I’m like George Bailey in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ I’m the richest man in town. That’s what I have been given back: ‘… grateful to have you back in our lives!’
“To the Mission’s donors, I would just say thank you. Really! Thank you for not giving up on us, even when we give up on ourselves.”
Part of Richard’s ministry now is working at our River of Life Shelter’s front desk. “I have this desire and ability to connect with the men, to talk to them, pray with them, even just learn their names – it’s amazing how incredibly powerful that is, for someone to know you know their name. I care about them!
“But also, mostly, my ministry will be with my children and grandchildren.
“The best thing I can do is take what I’ve learned at the Mission and in this Program and make it count for the Lord.”
For more information about the Boise Rescue Mission, go to boiserm.org.