Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bob’s Story:  An Impact Story
 -by Laura Hamilton

One of the greatest blessings of being a member at Impact is getting a clearer picture of the heart of God by listening to the stories of those around you.  Bob’s story makes me love my Heavenly Father even more than I did before. 
By all appearances, Bob was a lost cause.  Sixty-one years old and homeless, with an addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine that spanned more than four decades.  But thankfully, “The LORD does not look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Bob grew up not far from Houston with a promising future ahead of him.  But in 1968, two weeks before his high school graduation, his younger brother was killed by a drunk driver while he was covering Bob’s paper route.  Bob’s descent into the pit began a week later with his first beer.  His descent deepened three years later upon entering the Vietnam War where he was introduced to illicit drugs.  Over the following years, Bob admits that he regularly turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with his pain rather than to turn to God.  And there was a lot of pain: being treated like a criminal upon his return from Vietnam, two divorces, unemployment, multiple stints in prison, the death of his beloved mother and more.  Eventually Bob was no longer able to hold a regular job and became homeless, living under bridges and in tents in downtown Houston.
But the battle was not finished because Bob’s Heavenly Father was still pursuing him.   In the summer of 2005, Bob started coming to Impact regularly, not for fellowship, but for food and basic necessities.  When asked why he kept returning to Impact he said, “People at Impact love the needy and the hungry and no one looked down on me.”  Four years later, he started attending church services and last summer joined Impact’s Recovery House. Bob graduated from the Recovery House program on February 1, 2011 with 184 days clean and sober. 
Listening to Bob’s story left me humbled and in awe of a loving Father who pursues his children.  As we studied the Bible together, I noticed that Bob was flipping through highlighted, well worn pages- evidence of where his strength comes from.  Frequently in conversation, he quotes scriptures that have become the rock on which he stands and there is an unmistakable peace where once loomed only addiction.
Bob has moved to Lufkin to be with his family, but he wouldn’t leave until after the Impact “Outdoorsmen” Super Bowl party.  He has attended every Super Bowl party since 2005, but this time he wanted to come as a servant, clean and sober.  God is good!

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