Twenty three years ago Barry walked away from a great job with good pay and benefits. As a tool and die man he was quickly moving up in the company, but his elderly parents were sick and they needed his help. For a little over five years, Barry cared for them day and night. First his mother passed away and shortly after that his father also died.
Barry had assumed that he would be able to stay in his parent’s home for a season after they were gone but his siblings had other plans. That was seventeen years ago.
As an up and coming leader with experience in the Army and being good at his job Barry said, “I was arrogant and I needed to be humbled.” The five years caring for his family and now seventeen years experiencing poverty has definitely done that. “It’s my own fault. I walked away from the Lord. He didn’t leave me. I left Him. But that will never happen again. I will listen to His voice and go where he tells me to go.”
Barry remembers that for a season he was living on the streets and was assaulted. Someone called the police. When the officer showed up the other guy was arrested. Seeing the sleeping bag and all of Barry’s earthly belongings right there the officer gave Barry a ticket for vagrancy. “That was three hundred dollars that I didn’t have.” That memory often keeps Barry in the shadows.
In the summer the heat is unbearable but if you try to use public places to cool down you just might get a ticket or experience a night in jail. Out in the woods bugs are a problem and the fact that more people are out and about causes you to sleep with one eye open. With little rest you are more likely to end up a victim of criminal types that will take what little you have and laugh as they hurt you. The worst is that summer often comes with rain. While it cools you down, it destroys your stuff and seems to really bring the bugs out.
Several years ago Barry had stopped by the Gospel Rescue Mission but did not stay too long. At that point GRM was simply a flop house and it just was not safe. Recently having returned to Muskogee, Barry describes the hope he feels today. This is a different place. This is a place of hope and a place where lives can be changed.
Barry’s dream for five years from now includes being financially stable doing work as an inspector, staying in his own apartment and giving back to the community.
To those that routinely support the mission
Barry said, “Ya’ll saved my life.”