For as long as Amanda can remember, her uncle Danny has been a drug addict and an alcoholic struggling with homelessness. Amanda grew up watching her mother take care of Danny, always offering him a temporary place to stay, picking him up from jail or checking him into rehab. “My mom is the most selfless person I’ve ever met and she pretty much raised her siblings.” Though she was raised in a broken family, Amanda’s mother worked hard to maintain the relationships she had with her siblings and parents. She was a constant in a world that always seemed to be shifting, especially for Danny.
“I’ve watched her over and over give her time, give him clothes, food and resources to get better. Shortly after helping Danny last year, he again fell back into drug and alcohol use. For most of us in the family, this seemed inevitable.” Many people would tell Amanda’s mother that it was foolish to waste time on a lost cause like her brother. After years of watching the same failed attempts at rehabilitation, Amanda too began to lose hope for her uncle’s recovery. She knew it would take a miracle, but she was unwilling to believe that God was capable.
That was all until a Sunday morning at Reach, when Amanda and her mother decided to go to church together. “The message was about how the Holy Spirit sends us. At the end of the gathering my mother came up to me with tears in her eyes, telling me she felt that God was telling her to go find Danny. She felt an urgency that if she did not find him, her brother would be dead shortly.” So after church, Amanda and her mother prayed. Under the Holy Spirit’s prompting, they went to go find Danny.
Sure enough, behind their old house in Bremerton, Danny was listlessly hanging around. Amanda’s mother looked into her brother’s eyes and told him that God had sent her to go find him because He wants a better life for him. It took a while for Danny to process his sister’s words. Amanda listened as her uncle opened up to her mother and said that his life had become so bleak that he had lost the will to live. Yet, there he was, sought after by his sister and his niece. Danny decided to get in the car and the three made their way to the nearest clean and sober house.
“We knew it’d be difficult to find space, since they rarely have available beds,” Amanda said. “We walked around to the back and an employee happened to be back there. He told us we were not supposed to be there but they did have a bed open. This was nothing less than a miracle of God.” With her uncle safely checked in, Amanda listened as her mother told her that not a day goes by that she doesn’t think of and pray for Danny. Amanda left praying harder than she ever had that this time would be different, that her uncle would find healing.
No more than a few weeks later, Danny left and was picked up by the police for unpaid child support. Amanda’s mother continued to send support and Danny always stayed in contact. Amanda knew better than to raise her hopes again, until her mother received a letter that Danny sent from jail.
It read: “Thank you for the package. I thank God because I do not deserve it, but it is God who shows me his love and grace through you, I thank you and I give the glory to God and thank him for his loving grace. Being a Christian isn’t as weird as I used to picture it, I am trying to work on letting go and letting God. And stop struggling and just allow it to happen. I just need to realize that no matter what happens I will be okay. Thank you for everything. If you can find any churches in Kirkland or Redmond or Bellevue with a shelter let me know.”
As Amanda recounted her own faith journey in light of Danny’s gradual recovery, she noted there are too many people that we should pursue with that same level of faithfulness and unshakeable hope. She acknowledged that it’s easy to grow tired and conclude that there are some who exist beyond the parameters of God’s grace. “People are not irredeemable, but that’s what I had thought about my uncle. All this time, God was showing me through my mother what it looked like to be pursued relentlessly.”