“Lord, I don’t want to go back down these steps the same way I came up,” Payton prayed as he walked through the doors of the Mission in 2014.
Payton grew up in Memphis, attended church on Sundays, and was an All-American high-school football and basketball player. He had big plans, but struggled in college, and dropped out.
“I started selling drugs to make money, but when I became my best customer, things went downhill,” said Payton.
Over the next 20+ years, Payton married, became a father to four children, moved around, changed jobs, and battled addiction. “I was calling the shots on the streets but couldn’t be the man of the house. Year after year, my wife begged me to get help. I loved my sin too much to quit.”
Eventually, his lifestyle caught up with him and he spent four years in prison. But still, that didn’t stop him.
“I was good at selling drugs. So much so, my sons decided to follow in my footsteps. They became two of the biggest drug dealers in Memphis. I was shocked. Once I learned that I knew something needed to change.”
Finally, Payton was tired of the pain, turmoil, and suffering. “I was sick of that life. I decided it was time to try something different.”Because of you and your support, the doors of the Mission were open to Payton when he was ready to get help.
“It wasn’t easy,” said Payton. “But I was determined. I spent hours praying. Some days I would cry out to Jesus asking for His help to keep me from leaving.”
Payton says he was so used to doing things his own way, that he didn’t know God’s way. “The classes helped me see me and gave me the chance to get to know Him for myself. I found Jesus Christ at the Mission. I developed a relationship with Him. He changed me and made me new.”
After graduating from the Mission’s program, Payton made Nashville his home, where his wife of 37 years joined him. He started working at the Mission. He joined a local church where he has since been ordained and is currently serving as the Sunday School Superintendent.
“I’m in awe of how God has blessed me,” said Payton. “My wife and I just purchased our very first home. All my kids are Christ-followers and involved in church. I’ve got grandkids and even great-grandkids. I couldn’t ask for more.”
“Hope … it really does live here. It lives in me. Now I can share it with other people. I tell them, if He did it for me, He’ll do it for you, too.”