My name is Jason. I was born in July, 1984. I have two older brothers and two younger sisters. Life for me wasn't very good. It was bad actually or so I thought.
My first memory between the ages of 4 and 5 was my mother getting raped by one of her boyfriends. When I was 6 or 7, my mother had moved to The Garden a homeless shelter, where we met Penny. I didn't remember her much but I know she was there.
Mom couldn't stay in one place long. So, by 8, I was living with my aunt.
Mom moved to Houston where she met a new guy. She came to get four of us kids, leaving one brother with my aunt. This guy was alright at first but then things began to get bad. The arguing, the fighting... it was starting to repeat.
No matter where we went or who we lived with, it was always the same, violent. I had no control and no escape from this cycle and no way to stop it. To me this was love; the only love we ever knew. It was painful to see my mom get beat day in and day out and having no way to stop it. My mother started smoking crack, marijuana and drinking again.
It was easy to get the crack because her boyfriend sold it right there in the house. You could say we lived in a crack house. Anything else she wanted, she got across the street at the “gang house” which led my brother to gangs and soon he joined one. I was basically stuck watching out for my mom and little sisters because 95% of the time she was on drugs and the rest of the time she was getting beat for stealing the crack from her boyfriend.
I started to get angry. Then the shelter cycles began from the Jesus Center to the Salvation Army and Star of Hope. I think we lived in all of them, one time or another but she always went back to this guy. I never knew why and I still don't.
“No one thought I would make it but God had a plan for me. He gave me a future and a hope full of good things not bad. I learned that I could choose my anger. I choose LOVE and it works, I choose LIFE!”
So, do you want to know what happened?
Now I am 18 years old and I have been living at Jacob’s House for two and a half years. I moved here three months before my 16th birthday. I was in a juvenile detention center for a fight I had gotten into at school earlier that day. I thought my life was over. I had had no direction or discipline in my life and was filled with anger and had no respect for authority.
As I sat in that cell for 23 hours, I began to reflect on my life and the things I had done. I knew it was only a matter of time and I was going to become a sad statistic. Hope was dim and desperation began to kick in. I literally could hear the clock tick minutes (which felt like hours) and I thought it was over – that is when the begging began. I didn’t know God but I was begging anyway.
A guard came to my cell and asked me to come with him. We went into a room where a phone was lying on a desk off the hook, he told me to pick it up. It was Penny on the other end of that phone. The guard had found her phone number on some old school records of mine and tried to see if she would help me since my parents weren’t coming to get me out.
If no one came within that last hour I was going to be in custody for a very long time. I was abandoned. Then I heard Penny say “Jason, are you ready to come home?” I said yes, and that was where it began. I did not know what to expect or even think all I knew was that I was not going to have to stay there any longer.
She came and picked me up and I moved into Jacob’s House. A few days later I went over to my dad’s and asked my two sisters if they wanted to come too, but only one accepted the invitation. The first year I stayed at Jacob’s House was the hardest because I had no direction or discipline; I was like a new born baby. The simplest things for a normal teenager to do like make a bed or hang a curtain, were impossible for me.
We had never lived in a house long enough to have a room so I really never had a bed, I either slept on the floor or on a couch. I remember one day Penny came into my room and wanted to show me how to hang curtains. I messed up, so I threw them on the floor and ran out of the room in anger. Down she came in the elevator after me.
"Jason, don’t you ever run from me son, you run to me!"
She told me I was going to be a man of excellence and she only had two years to get me ready.
I was surprised, I was expecting her to yell or cuss at me because that was all I knew but instead, I got her kind of love, true love, a love I had never experienced until I moved there. Love to me was fights, arguments and drugs.
When I turned 16, I was given a 1991 Aerostar van, and a 100 dollar bill. To me that was priceless because I never got anything for my birthday, I was lucky if my mother was sober enough to even tell me happy birthday. So to me that was more than I had ever received and beyond anything I could have thought up. So, like the misdirected immature child I was, I went out with my dad and brother and got high.
I was sure I was going to be kicked out for this (and I wouldn’t have blamed them) but what I got was something I never thought in a million years I would get, mercy. I was lying on my bed thinking of what I was going to do, when Penny sat down on the bed with me – somehow someway, she already knew what happened – she held me tight and said “it is going to be alright.”
As I experienced the love and touch of Jesus, something on the inside of me broke and I wept. The next day we talked and discipline played its roll – I didn’t get off that easy. For the next year my van became “yard art” as Penny called it. I could sit in it, wash it, listen to the radio in it but I could not drive it. This was called consequences.
I gave my life to Jesus that summer at a convention she took me to in Fort Worth. As the year progressed I thought I was not changing, I was getting into trouble at school still and was sent to an alternative learning center that is a school for troubled teenagers.
Penny decided to push the pause button and home school me, saying changing my environment would help me get control. Then in the summer of 2001 I received my G.E.D, and in May I graduated cap and gown. This was one of the best feelings and moments in my life.
I was the first in my family to accomplish this.
When I turned 17 my van became “street art” that’s what I liked calling it. I was able to drive, and drive I did. September 11, I went in for a job interview and was hired in my first job as a data entry person for a medical billing facility. A lady from my church recommended me for the job.
Then I was asked to be a youth leader at my church. Things were really changing on the inside of me and it was starting to show up on the outside. In February of 2002 I got a 2001 Chevy Extreme, that I am paying for and believing God it will be paid for within the year.
As I look back on the two and half years of my life I know this to be true, if a lady with polio, a quadriplegic husband and a five year old boy did not open their home to a 15 year old, angry misguided teenager, I would not be the humble happy young man of God that I am today.
Words cannot say enough for what Jacob’s House has done in me. I deserve no credit for the person I am today, Jacob's House does. I am a leader there now and I look at the 8 kids we have right now and I see this HOPE, something I did not have when I was their age.
I see JOY and PEACE consuming them and if there is anything better to see I would not believe it, because when you can be a part of something that can change a person's life like it did mine, you can’t refuse.
So I wanted to thank everyone who has done something – anything. Whether it was giving money or an hour of volunteering, or praying for us – whatever, it has had a big impact on me. For I know no greater love than that of someone who not even knowing a person GIVES to them unconditionally – that is Jesus with skin on.
From my heart to yours, God Bless and thank you.