Twenty-nine year old Matthew is lucky to be alive. He’s survived a football injury at 15 that left him paralyzed. He’s overdosed on three different occasions. He has also survived severe alcohol poisoning.
The Early Days
“I had it rough growing up,” recalls Matthew. “There were seven of us kids. My parents were alcoholics and my brother, who I looked up to, was a drug addict. Unfortunately, I didn’t have good role models.”
One thing that kept Matthew going was his love of football. He loved playing with a passion. But one day, all of that was taken away from him and his life took an unexpected turn.
“I played for Mt. Juliet Jr. High,” says Matthew. “It was a big game. I got hit. I remember waking up and I couldn’t move. I was paralyzed from the neck down. They told me I’d never walk again. Thankfully, they were wrong. In the meantime, as I started getting the feeling back in my legs, I experienced unbearable pain. They started giving me pain killers and before long I was addicted to them.”
“I came to the Nashville Rescue Mission to help me restore my relationship with the Lord.”
Now unable to play football, Matthew had no desire to go to school, so he quit. His parents attempted homeschooling, but that didn’t work out either. Matthew left home at 18 and got an apartment with his older brother. He started working at a restaurant. He was drinking, smoking marijuana and taking pain medication every day. A few years later he met a girl and moved in with her; still drinking and partying every day.
A Traveling Salesman
“It eventually caught up with me,” says Matthew. “My girlfriend and I broke up. I got fired from my job. I didn’t have a car or a place to live. Then I read about this job in the newspaper where you travel around the country selling magazines. It seemed like a great opportunity.”
“At first, it was fun,” says Matthew. “I’ve been to almost every state in the country. But I didn’t have insurance. I didn’t have access to my pain meds. So I started buying them off the street, anywhere I could find them.”
Abandoned and Alone
In 2006, things came to a screeching halt for Matthew. He was with a traveling sales team in California and they ended up leaving him. Without the team, he didn’t have access to food or shelter. He didn’t have a phone. He had nowhere to go.
“I will never forget sleeping under the bridge that first night,” recalls Matthew. “It was hot. It was dirty. I never ever imagined my life would turn out that way. It got so bad that at times I would eat out of dumpsters because I couldn’t find food anywhere else. It was rough.”
“I would recycle aluminum cans just to earn money to buy alcohol,” shares Matthew. “I can remember thinking if I could just get really drunk, maybe I’d wake up and not be homeless anymore. It was crazy. I did this for months.”
“Life changed when I surrendered to God. He grabbed my heart and I’ve never been the same.”
Looking Leads to Finding Help
One day Matthew started looking for help, and it changed his life. He was approached by some guys who were doing outreach for a church. They offered him a chance at a new beginning. At first Matthew was skeptical—who would want to help a homeless person like him. But something tugged on his heart and he agreed to go with them. Matthew spent the next year in their recovery program. He then spent another two years living there and working for the church, helping others change their lives.
In 2010, Matthew decided to go home for a visit. Returning to his old neighborhood did not have a positive impact; the temptation was too great and Matthew relapsed for one week.
Starting Over Again
“After being clean for three years, it killed me to mess up,” says Matthew. “It was around Thanksgiving and I remember seeing a commercial on the TV where some guy was talking about the Nashville Rescue Mission and how it changed his life. I knew right then I had to get there. I needed to get my relationship back in order with the Lord…like I had in California. The very next day I had a friend drop me off at the Mission. I knew I would find the help I needed to get me back on the right road.”
Today, Matthew has his sights set on bigger and better dreams. He is taking computer courses and cooking classes. He is also working on his GED and desires to become a Youth Pastor. He wants to help kids who may be facing some of the same obstacles he faced. It is because of your faithful support, men like Matthew are finding God’s plan for their life.