Archive for Success Stories – Page 2

Life was Missing Something

“… the son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.”

Sammy Floyd says that as he was growing up with his family in Cherokee County, that he knew right from wrong. While he had no inclination toward church, and he didn’t have a personal relationship with God – there were times when he sensed that because of the absence of such a relationship – his life was missing something.

Sammy FloydAs he moved into adulthood with no real compass to his life, he says, “It became very easy to compromise values and self-justify my actions”. After his marriage came to a sudden end, he indicates that his lingering attitude of resentment, combined with his drug use, eventually led to jail time. “When I was finally released from jail, rather than try to change my ways, I continued on a downhill slide in drugs and depression. Within a year I attempted suicide – and I almost succeeded.”

With encouragement from family and others, he was able to get into a drug rehab program in Birmingham – a program that was Christian. “There, as I met others that were from similar circumstances but who were further along in the program – men that seemed to have real peace and joy – it inspired me to pay attention and ask questions. It was becoming clear to me that I needed Christ in my life.” However within a couple of months after Sammy gave in to the pull of drugs, he found himself removed from the program. Sensing the potential impact of this, when it was suggested to him that he contact Brother Bryan Mission, he quickly did so. After being screened for BBM’s 9-month New Life Fellowship program, when he was accepted he was enormously grateful for a new opportunity.

Nine months later as he completed BBM’s program, with his new life exhibiting a clear commitment to rely on the leadership and strength of God, he was accepted for a year-long Christian Service Internship at BBM. And by the grace of God, last May, Sammy who first came here as one who had hit bottom, joined the staff of Brother Bryan Mission. Today as he oversees our Learning Center (while enrolled in college) he’s in a great place to impact others who come to us the same way he did. As he now serves God (something he never imagined), he says, “Now I find myself in prayer about every aspect of my life – and I am enjoying life, like I never knew was possible”.


I Want What I See In Him

For Daniel Roberson to be serving as a Christian-Service Intern is about as far removed from the lost life he lived two years ago, as he or anyone else could imagine.

His first 44 years

Daniel Roberson

When he was only eight Daniel was a victim of sexual abuse. He used marijuana at thirteen. At sixteen it was cocaine – and before he was eighteen he was into opiates. For the next thirty years, with few breaks, drugs and alcohol played a major role in all of his life. Even during the time he was on methadone (to recover from drugs), he found ways to abuse drugs.

As 2014 began – with three decades of drug and alcohol abuse having resulted in so much misery, he didn’t know that in quick succession: his long relationship with a woman-friend would abruptly end; his trailer-home would be destroyed when a tree fell; that because he used money meant for insurance premiums for drugs – he would become homeless; and that he would lose his job. As his drugging escalated he “wandered” from staying at a shelter, to a motel, to a relatives home, back to a shelter – and finally to sleeping on the streets under viaducts. Now more miserable than ever, he thought of putting his life to an end.

More than physical hunger – He came to Brother Bryan Mission for a meal, but he hungered for more than physical food. In a short chapel service before lunch, the Chapel leader, a Christian working-man whose life a few short years ago was trapped in alcohol – shared the hope and promise of God for the lost in such a clear and powerful way that it seemed to speak directly to Daniel’s heart. Daniel thought, “I want what I see in him”.

Afterward as he ate lunch surrounded by men who were in BBM’s 9-month New- Life Program – men like Daniel whose once-trapped and defeated lives were clearly changed (or were being changed) – he was struck by their spirit – by their sincere joy. He wanted to remain in this moment.

God’s provision – After this chapel and meal experience, he thought about the promise and hope of God – His restoring grace and the victory he saw in those men. He thought, “I want to have what they have”. He now knew there was hope – and that hope was in God’s provision – the Son God had sent to call us home.

Daniel returned to BBM and fill out a New-Life Fellowship application. He said, “With others seeking to get in the NLF, the Program Director couldn’t talk with me right away. When my screening process did begin -between my lengthy conversations with the Program Director, a Chaplain, and a Ministry Intern – I got to spend more time there – and was even more eager.”

When he learned it may be weeks before there would be an opening he was disappointed, but it made him appreciate the value of what he was doing even more. Over the next 3½ weeks, alcohol’s temptation never left, but each day he made it back to BBM, he was once more exposed to the hope of Christ for his ravaged life.

Daniel began BBM’s New-Life Fellowship thirty one years after he first used marijuana. After a few months in NLF he says, “Finally, rather than reaching for my familiar escapes and crutches of alcohol, deceit and denial – as I was being equipped to build a real foundation for my life – by God’s amazing love and grace I had become a new person.”

As he progressed through NLF’s Christ-centered classes, personal study, work assignments, Adult Learning Center – and met with chaplains and teachers, the evidence of Daniel’s commitment and new dependence on Christ led to his being considered for a one-year Christian-Service Intern slot.

Today I know “I can do all things through Christ”.

Daniel Roberson with Executive Director Jim Etheredge

Daniel Roberson with Executive Director Jim Etheredge

Today as an Intern with BBM, his current assignment is to help lead BBM’s busy Food Service and to periodically help facilitate in the Learning Center. He says, “One of my new joys is that as I help serve those who come in need, I get to see the love of Christ begin to impact their life – like he impacted me. I know it is all by the grace of God. I have learned, both in His Word and by experience, that ‘I can do all  things through Christ.”

Everything That I Was Not – I Now Am

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap

APR-2015-NewsletterBrian Sanders said, “It’s hard to imagine how much my life has changed in less than a year”. Thanks be to God, similar heartfelt expressions are voiced by many that after years of hopeless defeat begin BBM’s extensive 9-10 month New Life Fellowship/Recovery program. Brian said, “For much of my 48 years I lived a pretty lost life – with no idea what real life could be like.”

His first 48-years

Many may find it hard to believe that a 6-year old would have a smoking habit, and at 8 he would be drinking hard liquor – but that’s how it was when Brian was with his uncle. His parents had separated before he was 6. He said, “My mother poured her love and care into me, but as I bounced between relatives I picked-up bad habits. At age 12 I was sent to a live- in program that was meant to guide kids like me to make good choices and get on the right track, but I didn’t really change.”

Frequent brushes with the law

By the time he was 13, frequent brushes with the law led to his spending time at two youth homes. Then at 17, after being sent to ‘Reality House’, he says, “For the next year or so I was in better shape than ever, mentally, spiritually and physically”. Eventually though he drifted back to alcohol.

In the Army, through his first 3 years Brian managed to avoid his familiar patterns, but during his last 3 years he gradually returned to those habits.

Downward spiral

Upon returning to Birmingham after his military service, much of the money he would earn through odd jobs and labor-pools went for alcohol. His drinking became such a problem that he was picked up 12 times for public intoxication. He spent much of 1993- 95 wandering the country riding freight trains as a railroad hobo. By 1998 Brian’s continued downward spiral resulted in his going to prison. Through the years after his release, to a large extent, he continued his addictive pattern. He says, “By 2013 I was in such a derelict life that I was drinking myself to death”.

I didn’t want to die this way

“I didn’t want to die this way, and because of that, with my years of addiction, when I heard how Brother Bryan Mission’s new recovery program was helping lives change, I knew I needed that. After talking with a BBM chaplain, even though they couldn’t take me yet because the program was full, I was inspired by the attitude here. For the next 3 weeks I was sober enough each morning when I showed up at the Mission before the office opened, hoping there for an opening. In August I got into ‘pre-program – and a few weeks later I began the New Life Fellowship Program.”

Through Christ

“What a difference the last 7 months have made – what a difference Christ makes. Here with the help of staff and volunteers that are committed to help reach and equip us to start over from the ground up – at age 48 I began a completely new foundation for life; I began a real relationship with Christ; Long-since broken relationships are mending; I’m involved in a local church; I will soon begin HVAC training; I have a realistic money management plan; and the Lord is at the center of my life. In short – everything that I was not – I now am – and the victory is God’s”.

“With men it is impossible, but not with God… with God all things are possible” Mark 10:27

Impossible For Man – Possible For God


Larry (right) welcoming a new program participant

Ten months ago Larry Gardner came to Brother Bryan Mission from a life where drug related issues and self-pursuit had long-since undercut his potential.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago. After 10 months in our live-in New-Life Fellowship – at age 54, Larry has begun a year-long Christian service internship at BBM. During his internship, with leadership of our Program Director and key staff, he will apply what he began during his previous 10 month

s in NLF, working in various areas of BBM – reaching, serving and equipping the troubled and lost who come in desperation and need.

Shortcuts to nowhere

When he came to us in 2013, he was spending nights sleeping on couches of friends, just to stay out of the weather. Between 2011 and 2013, the consequences of his lifestyle had once-again caught up with him. Most of his adult life was mixed with periods of seeming to be “on track” – and times where his short-cuts to self-satisfaction cost all.

After growing up in affluence, during his year and a half at the University of Alabama, drugs and alcohol contributed to his early departure. Still using drugs, after 2½ years at Embry-Riddle University, he began a career in aviation – a field he remained in for the next few years.

Dark Times

Upon taking a position with Alabama Department of Industrial Development – and with the State Legislature – his drug use (including cocaine) grew. In time, arrests were followed by long list of short-lived jobs and court ordered addiction programs. In 2002, while he had a 6-figure job, his part in illegal activities led to 3 years in jail. By then his 19-year marriage was over; family relations were nil he had no home; and his criminal record kept him from good work. He had to deal with roadblocks at every turn.

I went to my knees

Larry (right) with Matthew, another recent NLF grad.

Larry (right) with Matthew, another recent NLF grad.

Larry says, “In the 3 years prior to coming to BBM, while working in food service, and still trapped in drugs, I felt hopeless. I knew God existed, but I didn’t really know Him. At the end of myself, I finally went to my knees and asked God for help to do what was impossible for me to do. That led me to Brother Bryan Mission.”

“As I came here I didn’t want people to know far I had fallen. That was then. Now I want all to know what Christ can do with the “impossible”. Today I have peace and joy I never imagined. As I was being considered for this internship, I was also going through a certification process to minister with jail Chaplains.”

“I thank God for the close-knit committed staff and volunteers here that helped me get to the real heart of my need. They asked the tough questions that we need to address. As an intern, I love working with the guys. I pray that God can use my new life and faith to effectively reach others. I want the new life He gave me to bring glory to Him”.