Greg's Story

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"Before I stepped into the office at Visalia Rescue Mission, I was a lost, lonely, broken, sick man. I was coming from a life of sin and darkness.

The first and second times I thought I hit rock bottom were when I found myself homeless. But my third rock bottom moment was when I realized I couldn't steal in the area I was living in anymore. I boosted far too frequently and started to get caught far too often for stealing, or being possession of stolen items. But I desperate to supply my dope habit.

I was arrested six times for either possession of stolen property, petty theft, larceny, or commercial robbery.

I had so much government assistance and an EBT card that I sold for dope. But I had no life. I was ashamed, had no hope, and was a prisoner to all this garbage because I loved dope. I would do anything for it, and I did. I sacrificed all I had for my addiction. This was my life.

I was heartbroken because I knew I needed to get clean but didn't know how. I knew what I was doing was wrong and stupid, but I didn't want to quit the drugs. The pain of avoiding familyand withdrawing from everything important began to take it's toll on me. I just had no control over myself, and there are no words for this feeling. I needed help, and I needed to walk away from this life.


In June 2015, the day after being released from jail for a third DUI that I had been arrested for in 2011, I joined Visalia Rescue Mission's Life Change Academy.

When I got to the Mission I realized that I was in a safe environment. I was in a faith based program and they were talking about Jesus a lot.

I knew I needed to be here, and I knew that being here would reunite me with my family.

I was in the process of recovery and healing. I was learning to open up and share about my feelings and failures.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is wisdom that tells us to, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight." (NIV) God was creating a path for me. I was in the beginning of walking with Him.

I was learning to trust again. I was learning to open up my hardened heart; to show love, as well as receive it. I was letting go of resentments and finally involved in healthy conversations. I was beginning to ask myself really important questions, and really working on me.

While in the program, I worked at the thrift donation warehouse where I relearned the tools to be successful in a work environment. The discipleship groups, Bible study groups, and celebrate recovery meetings created a hunger in me to continue seeking God. I also found a church where I really feel included and welcomed.

I graduated from VRM's Life Change Academy in February 2016. I had this new-found strength and understanding of life now that I had Jesus.

In November 2016, I applied for a Dispatcher position for a huge building material company. I knew it was a bit of a leap because I didn't have any experience, just a lot of hope and ambition to do so much more with my life.

I wanted a full time job and a challenge. It would take a miracle though, because the job required a driver's license and was going to do a thorough background check. I did great in the interview, was honest, and shared my recent life-change commitment and that I was a walking testimony to the power of Jesus Christ. For 2 Corinthians 5:17 says of me, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone the new is here!" (NIV)


In December 2016, I started my first day on the job as Dispatcher for Oldcastle Precast. I am not only as dispatcher of a two-fleet crane truck team, but I am also the yard manager overlooking 2 acres of inventory.

I give God all the glory for my blessings and for the path I am on right now. It was nothing short of a miracle for me to get this important job opportunity with responsibilities that I could have never gotten 2 years ago.

I would have never been able to get off drugs on my own or been able to repair my relationships without Christ. I have been redeemed, washed of my sins, forgiven, and most importantly, I have been given a second chance at life.

I thank God and Visalia Rescue Mission for giving me a change to recover, a place to live, and the love it takes to help a sick person heal and relearn the life skills necessary to be a productive person in their community.

Looking back, I wish I would have known that life isn't easy, it is actually very hard, and we will face challenges. But John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (NIV)

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Ryan Stillwater

Ryan is a longtime Visalian — a graduate of Redwood High School and Fresno Pacific University with a bachelors degree in Christian Ministries. Intrigued by the partnership between the Visalia Rescue Mission and the City of Visalia, Ryan began putting his vision on paper as VRM's Oval Venue Coordinator in August 2013, and has sparked the interest of many throughout the community. Ryan and his wife Amy (a Mt. Whitney High School graduate) have been married for seven years and have three amazing kids — ages 6, 4, and 4.