When Fred Barksdale’s Veterans Administration counselor picked him up from the closing veterans’ boardinghouse with only the clothes he was wearing, Fred was homeless, hopeless, and tired. Even though he had been clean and sober for five years, he couldn’t just turn things around. “What I thought was a gutter fall turned out to be the biggest blessing in my life.” The disaster marked the day he came to the Greenville Rescue Mission –June 6, 2017– where he met David Hanna, Director of the Mission.
“David Hanna is my biggest cheerleader. I couldn’t surrender to God. I had to sell out to Jesus. Once I did that, thanks to Mr. Hanna, I didn’t look back. I realized that my circumstances did not dictate my life. He helped me put together a program to obtain my goals. He gave me the way to find a network to get out of the shelter and into my own home.”
“Recovery is discovering who we are. If I hadn’t gone through my journey, I wouldn’t be able to help.” And help others is what Fred does. His ministry is with homeless vets. Since arriving eight months ago at the Mission, he gave his life to Jesus, found a network of government and NGOs, and formed a group of ten men, dedicated to living a more abundant life than on the street. Today, five of those men are in their own homes and three are in the process of securing a place to live. Every day, the ten touch base with each other. They meet three days a week at the Mission, encouraging each other and those they come in contact with.
A Resting Place
Their mission is to challenge the evil one in his own vineyard. They go where despair is—to Tent City, to the Motel 6 rooms with grandmothers, lots of grandchildren, and no food. Places where pain, suffering, and misery become the only friends. Places where folks have bought into the lie of the enemy, where they just give up because they feel like they are in the land of the walking dead. The message Fred and his friends carry? “God loves you and we do too.” They take coats to the cold and food to the hungry so those people can hear the story of God and His love.
Fred believes the Greenville Rescue Mission is a resting place where healing and restoration can begin. The Mission staff press into the lives of the guests and help them understand how their choices can change the course of their lives. They help with training for job interviews, marketable skills, educational goals, and most importantly, teach them how God’s love can sustain them through the inevitable highs and lows of life.
Life Beyond the Mission
Fred knows that the first 60 days after leaving the Mission are critical. It’s a big step to leave the safety of Miracle Hill and step into the real world. It’s a huge adjustment. He manages with help from his holy family – the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. He talks to them all the time. He also keeps in touch with David Hanna, goes to Narcotics Anonymous meetings five days a week, and talks with his support group of ten. He attends Greenville Technical College two days a week to work on a degree in Human Services. His instructor calls 69-year-old Fred the oldest teenager on campus.
When asked how people can minister with him, Fred said, “Help places like Miracle Hill. Pray lots for people who have no hope. Reach out to ministries who are trying to feed and clothe the homeless. It ain’t how much we do. It’s what we do that counts.” He continued, “There is life after drugs and alcohol. All you have to do is give your life to Christ. There is hope.”
Fred Barksdale is just one of the thousands of people whose lives have been touched by Miracle Hill over the past 81 years. At our upcoming Spring Forth Banquet on March 27, 2018, several former guests of our shelters and programs will be sharing their stories. Life transformation is at the very heart of Miracle Hill’s mission, and thanks to the support of generous individuals and organizations, we are able to continue this vital work. We are especially grateful for the following sponsors who are making this year’s event possible: Praise Cathedral, Terry and Janet Wall, Walker & Whiteside, Eastern Industrial Supplies, Inc., Palmetto Farms Foundation, Frontier Label, and Fellowship Greenville.