Will never met his biological father. His absence left a gaping hole in Will’s life.
His father’s absence left a gaping hole in Will’s life. His stepdad was mean and abusive. This combination put Will on a rocky path and landed him at a military boarding school.
“After my sophomore year, I told my mom and stepdad I wanted to attend public school,” said Will. “I wanted to grow my hair out and graduate with my friends.” Will made sure that happened by drinking too much and getting kicked out of the boarding school. Once in public school, he played football and wrestled while keeping his drinking under wraps. He attended college on a wrestling scholarship, but the temptation on campus was too great, and he was kicked out after one semester.
“Thankfully my mom’s employer offered me a job climbing utility poles and installing powerlines,” said Will. “The pay was great, and everyone on the job was drinking, so I no longer had to hide it.”
As the crew traveled from town to town, Will left a wake of destruction behind him. “I’d get married, have a kid, and then three or four years later I’d move on. Before it was all said and done, I had five ex-wives, five houses, and five boys. I left my kids just like my dad did me.”
It was 2015 when Will first walked through the doors of Nashville Rescue Mission. After losing everything, he’d hit rock bottom and had spent the last two years in and out of jail.
“I was lost and broken, and they welcomed me in,” recalled Will. “I felt loved and accepted for the first time. I was given the tools I needed to recover. I learned so much, but the light never came on for me. Something was still missing.”
It wasn’t long before Will was back on the streets. “It’s a hard, dark life,” said Will. “I’ve been hit by a car, pistol-whipped, attacked, and robbed. I’ve done some things I’m not proud of.”
He spent the next year sleeping under a semi-trailer. He knew where he could sleep and where he could get a meal. One night, a massive thunderstorm caused his bad hip to lock up, and he needed someplace out of the rain.
“The man who owned a nearby gas station left the bathroom door unlocked for me,” recalled Will. “He said as long as I would keep it clean, he was okay with me sleeping on the floor.”
Will remembers the power going off and everything going black, but he saw a band of light at the bottom of the door. He was compelled to open the door and was overwhelmed with such a brilliant light he couldn t explain; he sensed it was God speaking to him.
“After the rain stopped and the sun came up, I knew what I was supposed to do,” shared Will. “God was directing me to the Mission—a place I knew would welcome me with open arms.”
Back at the Mission, Will participated in the Guest Volunteer Program (GVP). He spent most days folding blankets in the morning, followed by an AA meeting, then lunch, followed by working in the clothing room, later on to Bible Study, before wrapping up the day with dinner, then bed. Over the next year, he transitioned from living at the Mission to his own apartment. He found his place volunteering in the Mission’s kitchen, where he helps prepare and serve breakfast to men, he now considers his brothers.
“God lives here, in this place!” exclaimed Will. “I prayed for the light to come on. I’d had lots of people tell me that when the light comes on, you’ll know it … you’ll just know it. I didn’t understand that until it happened to me. I got it! I finally started to trust God to work things out. He has, and He continues to.”
Will knows he can’t change his past, but he has forgiven himself and knows God has forgiven him too. He’s praying one day his children will forgive him. He’s trusting God for that and has already seen some progress in reconciling with one of his children.
“I found God at Nashville Rescue Mission. I know He’s in control. I feel kin to all the people who donate and support the Mission. I know God is leading the people who donate, and I’m thankful for them. I think of them as my family.”