Drugs and alcohol ruled his life. Program after program left him right back where he started – at rock bottom. It wasn’t until he discovered Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and the hope found in Christ that everything really changed.
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Alvin Taylor: Drinking always came to play for me, and so I would do well career wise. I would do well, but on the weekends it was something else. I always had an opportunity to excel and get promotions and I did all that, but I got introduced to something one one weekend. It was called cocaine, and that’s when it started.
Narrator: We’ve all experienced it. You run into a friend from the past, but there’s something different. They are changed. Maybe there is a calm where there once was a storm. Maybe there is gentleness, instead of harshness. There’s a new passion, a new life. What changed? Welcome to brought Back to Life. A podcast where we explore stories of ordinary transformation.
Alvin Taylor: My name is Alvin Taylor. I’m originally from Washington DC, Born and raised. My father and mother were professionals. My dad was a musician, and my mother worked for the Census Bureau, and she was a key punch operator. She was always there encouraging me, but something was missing. Was a lot of drinking and gambling in my household. When they wasn’t working, they was drinking. And I guess at the age of 13, 14 years old, I took my very first drink, and it was a different reaction. I actually enjoyed it, but when I was in high school, it really took a hold of me. That’s all I wanted to do was drink, but my head was clear at some point because I actually wound up with a career. I was a computer technician. and so, I worked for the government for a number of years and then I decided to go west, young man, and so I moved to California.
I can’t say that I had bad experience working, but drinking always came to play for me, and so I would do well, career wise. I would do well, but on the weekends, it was something else. And so, I never lost a job. I always had an opportunity to excel and get promotions, and I did all that, but I got introduced to something one one weekend. It was called cocaine. And that’s when it started. And so, I worked for Nissan Motor Corporation, USA in Carson, California. And I worked five years in the row, never missed a day. Matter of fact, they had to make me take vacation. But when I at the last of the last year of the five years, my life changed. I was going to work, leaving early, going to get high, come back to work and I wound up resigning.
They wanted to know why, because I was doing well there and went to work for the gas company as a manager. But I couldn’t stop drinking and using. And, but it had a hold on me. And so, I tried at some point I tried to, Stop on my own, if you will, and went to a couple of programs. In fact, I like to tell the story that I went to Kaiser so much, they told me to stop coming.
This don’t come back no more. And so, I left the gas company and went to work for Verizon when it first started up as Verizon Wireless. And that’s made of GTE and LA Cellular. And I went in there as a senior technician. I was actually good. I don’t wanna tell people that, but I was good. I kid you not, I only had to work like four days a week, but I couldn’t make it to work cause every time I got paid, I’ll come up missing.
Along the way, someone told me about Jesus. Someone mentioned that name to me. I heard of him, but I didn’t know him. Didn’t have a clue, and I kept going and see, I asked this question before about how come it took me so long? It’s because I had a job skill. I could get a job anywhere. I was a computer technician. I had this knack about troubleshooting problems, and I was good at that. And so, I kept going on and on. I would quit one job, never got fired, get another. But I think the be beginning of the end for me is when I went to work for the county of Los Angeles. The government to me is like as long as you come to work, as long as you show up, you really don’t have to perform.
That was a bad moment for me because I would come to work, sit at my desk, run around the building for a couple of minutes so everybody could see me, go out the back door and go get high. And this went on for years. I actually worked there for over 10 years. One day, had a moment of clarity. I went upstairs and I said, I’m resigning. And they said again, why are you quitting? Cause they there under the impression I’m doing a good job. And I said, I don’t know why I’m quitting, but I gotta go. I went into another program. Got out of the program, wound up with another job, and started that cycle all over again. So, then I took a turn. I said, you know what? Maybe it’s the states is doing this to me, it’s gotta be California. So, I moved to Portland, Oregon. Oh, you gonna love this. I go to work at Portland General Electric. Good job, paying me good money. And man, I started out on swing shift. I was so good, they moved me to day shift. I’m running the whole day shift.
Next day. I know I’m back at it again. No one showed me where the crack house was. I just found it on my own. What does the bottom look like? I didn’t know what the bottom was because I kept getting these jobs and I wasn’t a criminal. So, I wasn’t stealing, I wasn’t robbing. I would go to work and actually get paid, but I would spend it all on the dope. And that went on, I must have worked for them, I guess about three or four years. Quit, went to work for ACS, that’s another cell phone company. And then here’s the ending. The ending is coming now. I’m not satisfied. I’m not happy. I’m trying to do the right thing. Keyword word: I’m trying to do the right thing. and I, only thing I could come up with, it must be the area. I don’t know nobody in Seattle. So, let me go to Seattle.
And I come down here, but the job is not coming as easy because I’m losing my skills. Technology is always revolving, it’s always moving. So, I’m my skillset is not as sharp as it used to be, and I’m losing all that. I just couldn’t find a job fast as I wanted to., and I’m running around not knowing anybody. I’m running around and I finally stumbled on Seattle Union Gospel Mission. Now, I had a game plan when I walked through them doors, because they said, you can come in, you get a meal, you can sleep. And that sounded good to me. Cause I came in, had a meal, they let me sleep, and my intent was, you know what? Let me hang around here for a little bit. And I kept running in and out of these doors. And finally, someone says to me, Hey man, you wanna join the program? And so, I’m thinking it’s cold outside. I can get a bed upstairs; I can kick back. And they had a nerve giving me devotions first thing in the morning, telling me I gotta do this, I gotta do that. And I’m like, what? And I sat down with one of the counselors and he explained the bible in a way that I never heard of before. He told me about this Jesus guy, and what he done for me. And I’m thinking to myself, man, he did what? Died for me? But I think before I really accepted Jesus in my heart, I think it was the attitude of the case manager who allowed me to talk about my trust issues. Talked about, even though I don’t have the story of my parents wasn’t there, I don’t have that story. But it wasn’t no love in the house and no one really took the time to hug me, touch me, ask me how I’m doing. Not even look at my report cards, and I was bringing home some Fs and no one really cared.
And so, when the case manager started taking that interest in me and started holding me accountable on the homework that he was giving me, I, at first was a little resistance on my part. But finally, when I recognized that he really cared for me, that’s key. Care for me, I beginning to open up my heart, accepting Jesus. And so, I like to talk about Psalms 40 when he talks about waiting patiently on the Lord. And because what happens when you first receive him, we think we going to hear trains, planes and buses, and that’s not true.
You have to wait on him, because I think some of that is we have to understand that he’s a right now God. Even though we don’t understand the presence of him, but he’s right there with us. And so, when I started realizing that all that mess that I was going through, he was there all the time. I just need to reach for him.
The process was long because even though I was getting fed and getting nourished, I still had one eye in the streets, if you will. I still wasn’t sure if this is the way, because I still was having what I call urges. You know that let me, this is not real. Let me get up outta here. This is… but because I stood there, because I waited, it’s that peace in Psalm 40 when it says it pulled you out of the muck and mire. When he pulled me up and planted my feet on a solid rock. See, I’m on that rock now, and there’s no way in the world that I can slip or fall unless I jump off the rock, cuz he got me. I’m still having struggles today. We all have struggles today, but we all in the same boat, but we all in different storms. The storms are different for all of us. And so, I choose today knowing that I don’t have to use unless I go out there on purpose. I have to consciously go back and do what I was. But I got a made-up mind because Jesus is with me, and so prayer’s important to me.
One of the things I learned here was quiet time. Spending time with the Father. I was sharing with somebody about some mornings when I get up and sit in my chair, you gotta have this little portion of your house that you sit and just pray. Sometimes Jesus speaks so loud to me, but sometimes he’s the quietest person in the room.
Real quiet. Real still. I even, I can’t tell you other than today, I cried. I have never cried before. Tears are rolling down my eyes and I’m not doing the, I’m doing real tears rolling down my eyes and they happy tears. I’m thankful for what he done for me. he chose me. So, I let my light shine before men because if he did it for me, he’ll do it for you. And so, I walk this out every day. Every day I walk this out. And it’s such a honor that not only did I graduate from the program here, but I wind up being a volunteer for a year and a half before I accepted a job here. Because I want people to see that Jesus is real and Jesus will change, if you want to change. You have to want the change.
And when I tell you that I’ve been through, without exaggeration, probably 30 something programs, when I tell you that I know what real rock Bottom looks like, because it had to been Jesus drawing me, because I had never even thought of a Union gospel mission before. And when I was growing up, when people was laying in the street, was calling them hobos, now they call ’em homeless people. I never thought I would be one of those people. But it’s the best decision that ever made in my life when I walk through them doors. It gets no better than this. Though, every day when I go home, I’m blessed. And I think about, did I help somebody today? Did somebody see Jesus and me today? So, everywhere I go, I love wearing the Union Gospel Mission hat, the jacket… cause I want somebody to ask me a question. In fact, just yesterday when I went to pick up my I call it dinner, but it was a hamburger and fries, and the lady said, you work for the mission, and when you do that to me, you just open up the door. I’m gonna talk about some stuff and then, because I want people to know that real things are happening down here at the Seattle Union Gospel Mission. It’s the real deal.
Narrator: Even when it seems impossible to see, hope can be found. Local men and women in our area desperately need a fresh start, and that’s what they find at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. From learning, to trust again to that first hot meal, to a recovery program, and then job training. The mission’s recovery programs offer counseling, case management, chemical dependency classes, and so much more. To hear this story again and hear other stories, visit kcisradio.com/ugm.
To hear more, volunteer, or donate, visit ugm.org