Gary Houghton not only helped renovate an area so more Rescue Mission clients could gain skills and experience to get jobs, he worked down the hall from where he began a relationship with God and found freedom from alcohol and drugs almost 17 years ago.
“I was excited about it,” Gary said of the project at the place that gave him a new start.
The transformation of space for our Willing to Work program was a process, just like the life change our clients experience and Gary’s development as a man in Christ that continues to this day.
For Gary and everyone who opens their life to God’s purposes, it’s a good work in progress.
“I’m giving back to a place that’s helping people,” he said, “giving them a chance to get a new start—just like I had.”
Gary grew up in a good home, but battled trust issues, anger and depression. “My father was a builder and he taught me carpentry.”
At an early age, Gary joined his father at work sites. “I was up on a roof carrying shingles when I was 6,” he noted. At 11, he helped his father build their house addition.
Gary has been employed with the same general contractor for 14 years. But his life wasn’t always stable. Alcohol was why.
“I was drinking to get drunk by the time I was 14,” he said. It was ruining his health. In his mid-20s, Gary was hospitalized with hepatitis and almost died. He promised to quit drinking for six months to heal his liver, but “was drunk in a week and back in the hospital.”
Drinking ended his first marriage and dried up work. “I was out on the street,” he said. “I came to the Mission.”
Believing he was “at the end of the road,” Gary completed a detoxification program and entered our residential program. He sat in on his first Bible studies.
Gary remembered his mother and sister trying to comfort him from the Bible, but he didn’t understand it. “I would open it up and start reading and I would shut it and say, ‘I can’t buy it.’ ”
At a chapel service here, Gary asked Jesus to lead his life. “I thought nothing had changed. I still had all the same thoughts,” he said. “What changed is when I opened the Bible, it started coming alive and speaking to me. That was a huge change and it happened right away.”
Today, Gary is remarried, loving his wife and five children, free from alcohol and drug addiction, spreading the good news of Christ and helping wherever and whenever he has opportunity.
“I lead a productive life, I feel useful and I never had that before,” he said. “All the glory goes to God, but God used the Rescue Mission and the people in it for his purposes. They took time to pour into my life and so I’m very thankful it was here for me.”