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Elbow worked hard his whole life in construction, factories, doing anything he could to get by, only to fall into devastating addiction along the way, using meth as a painkiller.

But a chance meeting with an old friend who’d found life change at Nashville Rescue Mission helped save Elbow—and give him NEW LIFE in the Lord!

“My name is James Elbert,” he says. “But my parents called me Elbow when I was little, and at some time or another, I’ve just always been called Elbow, so that’s what I go by.”

Yet as light-hearted as his name has always been, Elbow’s had a hard road, and a long one, starting out working shifts in restaurants while he was still in school, and then on the factory floor of big Mississippi furniture mills.

“I grew up in a little town called Guntown,” he recalls. “It’s a population of 2,600. It’s small. Might as well say it’s a million miles away.

That’s how far Elbow felt from a chance to escape cycles of backbreaking, repetitive labor that often end in crippling pain. “There’s no way out of it because your body is not designed to stay in one position like that,” Elbow says.

“Plus, it’s piece work, production work: you’re getting paid by the piece, and you’re going to want to do it as fast as you can . . . and there’s no one that stays on the line that does not have to get cortisone shots, pain pills, or similar kinds of drugs.”

Yet even after breaking away from the factories for the almost equally difficult drywall industry, Elbow’s addiction remained . . .

I ran with it. Almost like I waged a war on sobriety.

But God saw Elbow’s struggle and led him to Nashville Rescue Mission.

Elbow says, “I didn’t know this place existed until a friend of mine came through here, then his brother Gabe came through, and Gabe works here now in maintenance, and his wife is the receptionist”—after escaping their own lifelong addictions. “I’ve known them for over 30 years,” he marvels.

“We met when I was 15. I’m 47 now. I talked to [Gabe] after he’d been here and got sober,” Elbow says. “I said, ‘Man, you look good,’ and he goes, ‘I give all the glory to God.’”

Amazed at the transformation in someone whose life story wasn’t far from his own, Elbow says, “I had those words in my mind, ‘Give the glory to God,’ and I thought, ‘Well, this doesn’t happen every day.’ So, I threw the rest of my meth away.”

I went and told the guy I worked for, ‘I’m going to Nashville to catch up with Gabe.’

After Elbow was welcomed into our Life Recovery Program, he recognized that moment of decision was when his life changed. “I guess if everybody looked back at different times, and they weren’t following Jesus or believing in God, there’s got to be something somewhere they noticed: a sign to pay attention.

And since God got Elbow’s attention, he’s never looked back—and is grateful for all his blessings. “They give clothes, they give toiletries, and you get to go to the dentist,” he says. “I got my GED while I was here. All they want for you is to succeed in life!”

This Easter season, Elbow joins Gabe in giving God all the glory, saying: “He did it for us, did it for me, did it for you, for everybody,” and shares his thanks with you for NEW LIFE: “This place saved my life—big time!”

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