A broken heart
Frank reveres commitment to the people he loves. Even at the young of 11, when Frank’s mom lost her mobility from an unfortunate accident, he stepped up to serve her and his sisters.
He routinely fixed the family Ford Pinto that managed to break down every Friday, and—perched atop a stack of phone books to peer over the steering wheel—Frank even went the extra mile (quite literally) to bring groceries home to his mother.
It’s not difficult to see that Frank has a good heart, and those dear to him have always been prioritized. But, after a series of heartbreaks over the years, the risk he took on love left him crushed. Buckling, the weight of grief betrayed him to drugs’ false comfort, a habit that first emerged in high school.
“When my relationship fell apart again, I went back to [drugs]. I had a good machinist job, had everything going for me,” says Frank. “My broken heart is what led me there in the first place, and it kept leading me to it because…different relationships, broken heart; different relationships, broken heart.”
The best decision
Frank’s footing on life continued to slip when he began living on Salem’s streets, and then landed in prison for a couple years for drug-related charges. Upon release, he remained sober for a stint, but the habit’s strong hold unraveled any progress Frank made to outrun it.
“This time I had my own job, hot rods, tools, had everything; my own house… I walked away from that and another breakup, which was my last one. That threw me over: ‘I’m not good enough, what’s wrong with me…?’”
Hope at that point was a flickering candle, a fizzling fire. When Frank was contemplating suicide, the tiniest embers of hope barely glowed. “I was up in a tree. I yelled out to God ‘Please help me!’ And he did. He put my kids in my head that second.” God breathed onto that nearly snuffed flame that day and Frank’s hope steadily grew bigger and brighter.
When he joined Union Gospel Mission of Salem’s New Life Fellowship (NLF), Frank didn’t know much about this transformation program, he just knew he needed it.
“When I came back [to UGM] for a bed the night I tried to commit suicide, I just threw myself in the program and didn’t really know what it was,” Frank reflects. “Best decision I made in my life. I wish I had done it 20 years ago.”
Since then, he has evolved and transformed into the man he is today.
A heart healed
Total life change never is linear — there are many barriers that must be overcome, small battles that must be conquered.
One such challenge for Frank was completing his GED test. After anguishing over test preparation, this self-proclaimed jack-of-all-trades mastered that GED. What did this accomplishment feel like? In Frank’s words, “It felt awesome!”
All through the NLF program, the Holy Spirit restored him. Frank had arrived at UGM broken and desperate. When he was told of the ultimate sacrifice God made in giving up his Son to save the lost; the hurt, pain, loss, and deception that had fractured Frank’s heart began to heal as God’s overwhelming love filled him.
“Coming to church all the time, listening to what [God] did for us, it started sinking in. Wow, wow! I have a son and a daughter, and I don’t think I could give them up, watching them die…”
In March of this year, Frank graduated from NLF; the past now behind him and God’s grace, love, and hopeful future before him. Choked with emotion, Frank stepped up to the podium and delivered his speech.
“So now that I’ve been through the program, I can talk to you about broken families, addiction, depression, loss, survival, grief, heartache, death, neglect, abandonment, suicide, and betrayal,” says Frank.
“I can also talk to you about empathy, kindness, compassion, love, forgiveness, self-love, self-care, strength, peace, healing, recovery, unity, gratitude, grace, hope, and the power of positivity.”
Philippians 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus.”
Rejoices Frank, “I’m blessed. Changed.”
You can help change the face of homelessness for people just like Frank. Give today at ugmsalem.org/donate.