Ten Years Down the Road
The Story of Dave DeVoss
Ten years ago, Dave DeVoss’s story of change at Peoria Rescue Ministries was featured in The Hope newsletter. Today he reminds us of his story and shares an update on what God has been doing in his life these past ten years.
“Where to?” asked the driver of a Peoria Yellow Cab as Dave slid into the back seat on a cold February night of 2004. Earlier, he had taken his last 20 dollars into a south end tavern to mull over his current situation and to try to think of a way out. Sitting at the bar, he never would have imagined the turn of events that was coming his way.
Dave had enlisted in the Army National Guard at 19, where he served for three years. He had spent most of his life afterwards working at various jobs but never truly settling down at any one for long. He had become a “functioning” alcoholic and regular marijuana smoker. At age 37, his alcohol and drug-filled life took a dangerous turn when an acquaintance gave him marijuana laced with crack cocaine. “That high was like nothing else and I would chase it from that moment on,” he shares.
Almost four years later, he was unemployed, terribly unhealthy, and homeless. The crack dealer who he had been living with had thrown all his belongings out into the snow-covered yard when he could no longer work due to his addiction. “I sat there that night knowing that I had hit bottom,” says Dave. “I had alienated my family and had nowhere to go.”
Sitting at a bar after being thrown out, he asked the bartender to call a cab for him as he finished his drink.
“I felt hopeless as I got into that cab and knew that I couldn’t live like this. When the driver asked where I wanted to go, I said ‘just take me downtown to the nearest bridge.’ The cab driver started driving for a short bit but then realized what I had just said and slammed on the brakes. He locked me into the car from his controls up front and said, ‘Oh, not on my watch!’ He called ahead to Methodist hospital and drove me there where mental health staff was waiting when he pulled up with me.”
Dave smiles a bit and says, “You know, I’ve often wondered if that cab driver was an angel. I’d love to be able to thank him for saving my life.”
The weeks following would be spent in extensive day treatments for depression at Methodist and staying at the Peoria Rescue Mission at night. Dave admits that he wasn’t “much of a fan” of the Mission at first, but he was grateful for the shower, meal and place to sleep. It wasn’t until several weeks later that he had an experience during chapel service which he explains as a sort of “tunnel vision” that would totally change his life. “It was like the pastor was speaking just to me and there was nobody else in the room. I went up to him after service and he prayed for me as I rededicated my life back to Christ.”
Dave admits that making a decision for Christ did not make his problems go away; he still fought with his addictions but was consistent with his outpatient treatment. He explains, “Eric Howard was the Assistant Director of the Mission at that time and could see that I was on the fence. He began talking to me about Victory Acres and I eventually made the decision to put my name on the waiting list.” Victory Acres is a no-cost, long-term recovery program which teaches men to live a Christ-centered life. After seven weeks, Dave moved from the Mission to Victory Acres where he could fully embrace the understanding of God’s love for him and to find the peace of mind and heart that he had needed for so long.
In August of 2004, Dave graduated from Victory Acres and returned to the Mission to take the cook position for the next two and a half years. “I was excited to be able to return to the Mission and encourage others as a staff member,” he says, “I think it was all in God’s plan because it helped me stay focused as well.”
Now, thirteen years later, Dave looks back over his life since that cold February night when he felt like giving up was his only option. He left the Mission’s cook position and began working for a local manufacturing company and within a few months, bought a small home with a nice-sized yard for two rescue dogs to run in.
He was able to mend relationships with his family and often vacationed with his mother and stepfather. “I’d drive and my stepdad would go on and on, sharing stories of his years working for the steel mill. It was awesome to reconnect with them, especially after all of the worry that I had caused them over the years,” says Dave. He shares that his stepfather would often ask him when he was going to start dating again. “I would always tell him that God would bring me someone when it was time,” says Dave. He goes on to explain that he never tried looking for someone because he knew that he had to make certain that he wasn’t going to risk bringing any of his past issues into a new relationship. “I had never dated as the ‘sober me’ and I guess I was also worried about not finding someone who could accept my past,” he explains. In December of last year, nearly thirteen years without drugs or alcohol, that would change for him in a way that he claims could have only been orchestrated by God himself.
“I had posted to my Facebook page about having an extra free pass to the Northwoods Church Christmas program and a lady from my home- town of Sheffield, an hour north, responded that she would like to be able to go. She actually had sent me a friend request earlier in the year, but we had never corresponded in any way,” explains Dave. He laughs explaining that this person had mistaken him for his brother who runs a small engine repair shop in Sheffield. She had tried contacting his brother about fixing her mower but he rarely used Facebook and had never responded to her. “She asked if she could walk over and pickup the ticket and I told her that I live in Peoria,” he says with a smile and a shake of his head.
The two met in Peoria the next day, a few hours before the program. “I got out of my car and she handed me a cookie that she had bought inside of the gas station as a trade. I told her to enjoy the show, she thanked me and that was it,” says Dave. He knew from seeing some of her previous Facebook posts that she had been widowed the summer before and that the holidays were proving to be difficult. While he was at the church waiting for his sister and brother-in-law to arrive, he decided to invite her to sit with them and sent her a text.
“She was there alone and it seemed like the right thing to do,” he says. The two struck up an instant friendship and began almost daily conversations. “The next time that we saw each other was on New Year’s Day, back at Northwoods Church where they had a Christian magician come to put on a show. She reached down to hold my hand during a prayer and I was hooked,” he says.
Today, Dave DeVoss is enjoying life with his girlfriend, his dogs and a new home in East Peoria. “She brought four grown children and four grandbabies to the mix and I’m loving it,” he says with an honest smile. He has also recently taken a leap of faith and started an HVAC program with plans of starting his own business within the year. He spends his time on projects around the house, visiting with family and enjoying his new life to the fullest.