As I reflect on the story of the PARC, there are so many victories and disappointments. I want to share one story that has touched my heart the most.
If you have met Allison, you love her. Her authenticity and love for the Lord endears all those who know her. She loves God, scripture and people and is one of the mightiest prayer warriors I know. Allison has an addiction to meth and has engaged in a lifestyle not many of us would endorse for over 20 years. Through her time in coming to the PARC we have continued to love her, show her value and remind her that we love her not for what she does, but for who she is. She is always welcome back and she will never run out of chances. Allison saw no way out, but over time she began to become aware that there were possibilities for her. She overcame many obstacles to FINALLY get her I.D. and social security card. I wish you could have been here to experience what Robert and I saw when Allison finally received her I.D. in the mail. She waited until she got to the PARC to open it. She prayed, kissed the envelope and then opened it up. When she saw it she threw her hands up, praised Jesus and hugged us both! She said the owed this all to the PARC.
Then, Allison applied for a job. We walked with her as she followed up on her application and then rejoiced with her when she got the job. There was such a celebration that day. This is a true miracle indeed. She is so proud and determined. Allison took a HUGE next step. When I asked her how long it had been since she had worked, she asked, “You mean a public job? It’s been 20 years.” Allison began her job and would come in each morning with a huge smile on her face to tell us about how her work was going and how much she loved her job.
When the PARC opened on Tuesday we heard that Allison had been kicked out of Salvation Army and lost her job. I hoped she would come back to the PARC so we could try to help her to keep moving forward. She arrived at the PARC around 1:00 that day in her pajamas. She had no other clothes. I was so happy to see her and began to hear her story. Allison uses a lot of words, but what jumped out at me was that Allison had been told by someone at Salvation Army that she had lost her job and she just believed them. I asked her how many days of work she had missed. She told me that she had only missed one, so I encouraged her to call her boss, apologize and ask if she could keep her job. As her eyes lit up she said, "I can do that?" We watched her make that phone call, saw tears come to her eyes and heard her say, "Thank you, Sir. Thank you. I will be there and I will work hard." She hugged me and cried out of thankfulness and gratitude, and then she called her daddy in South Carolina. I had the privilege of talking to her sweet daddy and hearing him thank me for helping his daughter. I had some leggings in the cabinet that I gave her to wear to work.
My friends, this is the story of the PARC. Our privilege has been to know Allison, a person we would have never known if it weren't for the PARC. Our privilege has been to walk with her and continue to love her even though her lifestyle is not one we endorse. Our honor has been to watch her walk in to a place she never thought possible because she found love, acceptance and value at the PARC. Allison came in hopeless, but she left with hope. This is the PARC. This is what we do. Isn't it wonderful? Aren't we lucky to get to be a part of the greatness and vastness of God's love, hope and destiny for those that are so often lost and forgotten? Love truly does conquer all!!