Growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago, Dean’s young life was uneventful. His life seemed average to him. His days were filled with earning average grades at a Catholic School that often bored him and spending time with his few friends. But by the time he was 14, he had begun spending more and more time around people who drank and used drugs. Panic attacks and health issues had also begun to emerge in his life.
One day when a friend offered to split a pint of whiskey with him, Dean agreed. The alcohol made him momentarily feel like he was on top of the world. His anxiety and pain were gone. But that first drink was just the beginning. Forty-two years of alcoholism followed.
Dean found work over the years, but always lost them due to his heavy drinking. He also had many people throughout his life that cared for him, but his heavy drinking also drove them away. He was in and out of hospitals and the damage from alcohol to his body was extensive. He could no longer walk and had brain, liver, and kidney damage. He was near death. During his fourth hospital stay, Dean prayed to the Lord for His mercy and help. He felt that God was with him in that moment and asked Him to take over his life.
He was released from the hospital, but needed help to get his life turned around. A friend took him to the Peoria Rescue Mission. After being there for several weeks, Dean prayed one night to God and asked Him to remove his alcoholic past. He no longer wanted it pulling him down. When he woke the next morning, Dean felt a sense of total peace. He knew God had answered his prayers.
As the days went on, Dean began reading the Bible. He took it slowly – just bits at a time – since he had never read a Bible before. It wasn’t long before his attitude and outlook on life started to change. The anger that had always filled him was slowly leaving. He started helping others and truly enjoyed it. His love for the Lord and His Word began to grow.
Dean has now been at the Peoria Rescue Mission for 14 months. He has completed the Mission’s long-term program and has graduated to the Discipleship Transitional Phase, where he is learning how to make a life for himself outside of the Mission’s walls. He is working many hours at a grocery store and has saved enough money to buy himself a vehicle.
His relationship with the Lord continues to grow. He enjoys studying God’s Word and has been working on developing a more solid prayer life. Regarding prayer, Dean says, “Beneath the excuses (to not pray) awaits God’s presence, peace, and power to make your life so wonderful. Do not run from God! He sees right through you and I.” The more he learns of God and the truths found in His Word, the more Dean wants his life to follow those teachings. He regularly prays the words found in one of his favorite verses, Colossians 3:12, that his life would have compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
After 42 years of being a slave to alcohol, Dean has found freedom in Christ. This new creation has found a new life. Dean says, “When I could not walk, He gave me strength. When I had seizures, He took them away. Most of my family is dead – now God is my real Father and I am His child. I finally have peace – a peace only God can give me. I will stand firm for God. I believe He wants me to help others, and this is what I will pursue.”