“I am beautifully and wonderfully made.”


Born to a woman barely more than a child herself, Venus enjoyed a happy, if unconventional, upbringing. The young mother and daughter were “adopted” and cared for by an older couple whom Venus lovingly referred to as her foster grandparents. “It was wonderful growing up with them,” she says.

But by the time she was 22, the couple had passed away, leaving Venus and her mother heartbroken and struggling without the resources they depended on. They moved from place to place, relying on the good graces of others for shelter and necessities. Sadly, mired in the depths of grief and frustration, Venus began abusing alcohol.

“I just wanted to party and have fun.”

Through her self-destructive habits, Venus met a man who encouraged her to leave her mother and they began a nomadic existence that eventually brought them to Jacksonville.

For 13 years, they worked “labor pool” jobs, sleeping on the streets or in hotels when they had the money. They learned to “follow the homeless” to find showers, clothing and soup kitchens. And Venus continued to cultivate her addiction.

Finally, the couple’s relationship soured and resulted in an altercation.“He hit me and I was stunned… I was bleeding. I closed my eyes and thought, ‘I’m tired of this lifestyle but there’s nothing anybody can do.’”

Venus hadn’t yet learned of God’s life-changing love. By His grace, good Samaritans had witnessed the fight, and they directed her to City Rescue Mission.

“The most important thing about being in LifeBuilders is that every day you get to walk the walk of someone who is recovering. You feel your life is a new story going forward and God put you on this path to learn.”

As with untold guests before her, Venus immediately felt welcome when she walked in the door. “It was like a big hug,” she says, “with open arms that make you feel you’re part of a family.” Just as important, our faith-based environment supported her healing and encouraged her to trust in the Lord.

“The Bible tells me I am beautifully and wonderfully made. So I have no fear. I pray first and then go about my day.”

In our LifeBuilders Program, Venus found the tools and skills she needed to overcome destructive habits and end life-draining behaviors. Through her ministry assignments she found fulfillment in helping others and seeing them smile as she shared God’s compassion and love. She worked in our kitchen for two years, then moved into transitional housing and took a job at a restaurant, where she continues to touch lives with her servant’s heart.

Venus recently celebrated her 49th birthday and feels, indeed, like she’s been reborn. She’s sober, independent and humbled to share her story with friends like you and those seeking their own new beginnings.

“God loves you just like He loves me. He gave me a choice and a second chance at my life. Now I have a job and I’m happy, and I know God has more wonderful things in store.”

To read the entire February Newsletter, click here.