Maria has come a long way, on an amazing journey. Maria was kidnapped at 14 years of age, and wasn't rescued from her situation until she was 20. The details of this time in her life will not be recounted here, but they result in her suffering PTSD. Consequently, she chose to live outdoors and away from people.
Eventually, she was able to re-enter society - to a degree. She traveled around to many places, working where she could, but never really settling down. Along the way she had two bouts with cancer, but always managed to be self-sufficient and not ask others for charity. She earned her way wherever she went, and she never was involved with alcohol or drugs.
A little over a year and a half ago, she was living in Texas and was offered a job as a caregiver to an elderly woman in Bristol. Used to moving around, she decided to give it a try and made the long trek here.
Not too long after accepting the job, she dropped a large can of vegetables on her toe, which required amputation. While healing, she was not mobile enough to suit her employer and all of her possessions were thrown out of the house and she was asked to leave.
For a year and a half, Maria lived on the streets of Bristol. During the summer, it was not too bad as she would do odd jobs for a sandwich and something to drink. Winter was another story where survival was hard.
Living in a local cave, she spent four days deathly ill. As she began to feel better, Maria came to the conclusion that she could no longer spend time on the streets. She had to find safe shelter, but where? She heard people talk about the Haven and she finally decided to come here. Maria says, "I'm glad I did".
Since coming to the Haven, Maria has bonded with our staff, and been a remarkable help in the food pantry. Just recently she has begun helping a couple of days a week in the kitchen cooking for the residents and for the daily public meal.
"The Haven has changed my life!", she says.
Maria still has lingering health problems from not having consistent healthcare and living out in the elements, but says the Haven gets her to doctor visits and has provided an environment where she can heal and grow spiritually.
A sweeter person never lived and we are so glad God brought her here.
David was a Christmas present to the Haven, as he arrived December 25, 2017. At the time, he had just completed a 5 month Christian rehabilitation program in Knoxville and was returning to Bristol to rebuild his life. David entered into emergency housing provided in the Dorm facility, and made rapid progress. He became employed, and moved to our transitional living program, the Lighthouse, in a matter of months.
While in the Lighthouse, David was working with a local downtown business, where he moved into a position of responsibility. While he was happy and doing well in this job, he decided to leave when a position became open at the Haven of Rest Thrift Store. Confident that a job with the Haven was a step in the right direction, David became a member of the staff.
He worked hard to prove himself as assistant manager, and after a short time his efforts paid off as he was promoted to manager of the Thrift Store. Since serving as manager, the store has seen remarkable improvement. The store has been through cosmetic changes, sales are up, and the staff is working to make the store more Christ centered and ministry minded.
David says that one of his favorite things about the job is being able to talk to customers and staff about how much the Haven has helped him in his journey. He also enjoys ministering with the new residents working in the Thrift Store and helping them see the opportunity they have to better their lives while staying at the Haven.
David is a tremendous example of the difference your giving can make. Your gifts to the homeless and hungry helps many of these precious people be transformed into self-sufficient men and women who love the Lord. What bigger difference could you make?
“At a time in my life of “darkness”, the Lord directed my path. He lit my feet as lamps, he centered me at the Haven.
Addiction had bound chains to my hands and feet. The devil was trying to destroy my life by sickening my mind, body, and worst of all my soul. But, the Lord began a great work of deliverance from a life a misery.
I’ve been his child for quite some time, but I allowed myself to continue to live “bound”. Even though he had set me free, I was allowing guilt, shame, and regret to consume my life. By his grace, mercy, and direction, He began a cleansing process that allowed me to let go of these feelings and insecurities. I feel that angels were posted at every intersection of my life to help with my decisions, and to interrupt the devils assignment on my life. The Lord was moving mountains before my very eyes.
On this Journey, I realized the fight is his, not mine. My job is to follow. Once I truly accepted his Love, His Grace, and His Mercy, He put me in place a well laid plan. Within that plan was the Haven of Rest. It truly became my “HAVEN of REST” in so many ways. It quickly became the safe place that the Lord had lead me to.
Some people believe “Angels” are only in heaven, I’m here to tell you that is not true. “Angels” very much assemble here at the Haven. Upon arrival I wasn’t looking for a handout, I was looking for a hand-up. It seems to be a persona that the Haven is only a homeless shelter, and yes, it shelters the homeless, but it also offers building blocks to productive living, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. The Haven also allows its residents to give back. Giving back builds confidence within oneself, helps you regain your own self-respect, and see love from others. Very few people realize exactly how much the Haven Ministries do, from feeding the hungry in the community, loving the broken, and mending wings so that we can all fly again! I want to share exactly what they do to others in need.
I am personally about to celebrate my one-year anniversary of complete deliverance from the addiction of drugs. Thanks to Gods well laid plan, I have found my place! I was not only given a place to sleep, and food to eat, I’ve been given a family! A new start! I am now employed here at the Haven, my place of rest and support, and I am currently living in my own apartment, and rebuilding the life that I know I am capable and deserving of!
I am so thankful for the path God set me on, and I can truly say that I am beyond excited for my future!”