Just 4 years ago, I was a full-blown drug addict and alcoholic. The lights had gone out in my soul, and I had lost all hope.
On September 29, 2014, I began writing suicide letters to my loved ones. The pain was too much. My hands were too shaky to even hold a glass of water. I had been fired from 17 different jobs by age 26. Alcohol was my master, and I had wrecked my whole life.
In all honesty, I don't remember making this decision, but I ended up in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous that evening in Birmingham, Alabama. It was a last-ditch effort before going home to kill myself. I don't remember much from that evening, but I do remember crying in front of a bunch of people, and an old man with super bright eyes suggested I go home and pray. So I did.
Thankfully, I was raised in church, so I knew how to pray. (I just ran the other direction my whole life.) I fell to my knees and began to cry those uncontrollable tears. It was more like wailing. "God, I need a miracle." My bible had been sitting on the shelf behind me for years. I opened it to a random page, and the first thing I saw was this:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
Everything changed in that moment. The miracle happened when I surrendered everything to Jesus. My pain, my addiction, my broken relationships, my resentments, my fears, my regrets, and my darkness. By the grace of God, I've been clean and sober since that moment on September 29, 2014.
I became a responsible human and took a job at a software company in Charlotte, NC. God continued to work in my heart, and I fell in love with helping others get sober. In 2017, I felt the Lord calling me to make this my life. I started a non-profit and quit my job. It didn't make much sense to keep my apartment, so I gave that up, too. Yeah...crazy.
I've been on the road sharing this story for almost an entire year. Most nights I sleep in my truck with my dog, and I spend every day just serving whoever is in my path. I've had the opportunity to share my story in several churches and recovery groups all over the country, and I've had countless divine encounters with people who are struggling with addiction.
God continues to put homeless people in my path, and it weighs heavy on my heart that people have no place to sleep at night. Tons of people have opened up their homes to me on this journey, but I've also had to spend many nights in my truck - alone, wondering if anyone cares at all.
One night in January, I attempted to sleep in a church parking lot in Redding, California. Much to my surprise...I was asked to leave. That experience broke my heart on so many levels. You can read about the parking lot experience here.
It's as if we've become blind to the very reason church was started in the first place: Love. Instead of being angry, I've decided to do something about the current state of our church.
I've made it my mission to start a church/home that's open to everyone, 24/7. A place with beds, couches, washing machines, showers, and free meals. A place where we host nightly recovery meetings and help people get back on their feet. That's The Sober Mission.
It's an honor to give 100% of my life to serve others. I'm not special...this is what the Word says to do with our lives. I sat in that cubicle for way too long. I got blackout drunk for too many years. I've been selfish, and I've missed out on so many good things as a direct result of my ignorant lifestyle. Speaking for myself here...but I just can't find anything in scripture that supports the cubicle lifestyle and "part-time" ministry.
I can no longer read the Bible as a book of suggestions. No. Jesus wasn't kidding around when He said to lay it all down. He died for me. The least I can do is live for Him. No more of this 10% stuff. It's all or nothing in the Kingdom. No more mission "trips". My mission is my life.
I no longer seek to be understood. I don't have to fit in. I don't even belong to this world - the old Zack is dead, and today I walk in eternal grace. It's about the Kingdom. There's a party up there, and I'm inviting everyone.
Yes, it's challenging to be "homeless" and not know where my next meal will come from. But that's how Jesus lived. He says to give freely, and He promises to provide. So far, I've found that to be true. So I'll just keep going.
Much Love! -Zack