By Nina, volunteer from Ashdod

    IMG 20180227 WA00101

    The has winter arrived quickly and suddenly, as it always does in Israel. For those who live on the street, it is a difficult time. Even if they have got some kind of shelter for the night, during the day they roam the streets for hours, often sitting down right upon the pavement.

    When someone cannot steal and has already got no strength to work, he just becomes a beggar. In the worst case, he falls asleep in the cold. Then he looks like a person in a coma. His legs and arms are terribly twisted and pressed down by the body, but he does not even feel that. Former street girls say you can lose your limb like that, there have been cases…

    When our volunteers see such a person, they immediately approach and try to awaken him. They call him to come to Aviv Center and eat. There, while he is eating, he is warming up and can listen to us. Street people say: "It is like getting into another world".

    Clothes are also important. To keep themselves warm on the street, the addicts have got only one option: to put on several layers of clothing. Their legs, of course, still freeze. In Aviv Center we give them second hand clothes, hot tea, coffee and, of course, soup. In winter we always put a plate of peeled garlic on the table; it protects against colds and flu.

    When you are warm, when there is a roof over your head, when you have got enough food, you feel even more concerned about those who are now on the streets, unprotected, wandering in the dark. “Dear Lord, keep them until the morning, when the center opens again”, I pray, “Let them survive this night, because tomorrow will bring new hope. Tomorrow may become their day of salvation”.

    Approaching a woman on Tel Aviv street1

    By Nina, volunteer from Ashdod

    Just a small park separates Aviv Center from an abandoned alley where the addicts shoot up. It is a scary place. It is the kingdom of death. You can see it everywhere and in everything. A blank glance of a guy lying on the pavement… The twisted thin arms of a girl who has just got her fix and sunk into semiconsciousness… Rags, garbage, empty syringes…. And silence, disturbed only by occasional unintelligible exclamations...

    The volunteers I have joined today know many people here. The reason is pretty simple: some time ago they themselves dwelled in this hell. Today they come and sit down next to someone, look into his eyes, hold him by the shoulders and start talking. They talk to every person as if to a brother, understanding the depth of his suffering, still remembering this life so vividly.

    And their message is simple, and in their call life triumphs over death. They say: “Look at me! Take a good look! I was here, I was dying, like you are now. Nothing is impossible for God. He saved me, and He can save you too!”

    And in somebody’s fading eyes suddenly one can spot a glimpse of hope.

    This is the living Gospel.

    A series of glimpses into the life of an addict’s mother

    1

    There is a special term: “co-dependent” people. Simply put, these are parents, brothers and sisters, wives, grandparents and other close, loving relatives of a drug addict. Here I will be talking only about the mother, but I mean them all. The whip that is continuously driving the addict on to his grave, reaches them as well…

    The horrible day has come: the mother learns that her beloved child has become a drug addict. He steals money from home, from the bank accounts; he takes and sells valuables, even his Mom’s ring. 

    Syringes

    “How, he couldn’t!..” He suddenly disappears, returns, then disappears again after a sudden phone call. Day, night, early morning - everything has got mixed up in her home. And constant lies… Even when it makes no sense to lie, he still lies to her. And falling into this black hole, she tries to save everything, and saves nothing. Bailiffs appear in her house because he has gotten into huge debts. And when she fully realizes the horror of his addiction, who is she more afraid for? For him? For younger children who see everything? For an innocent passer-by her son may attack? She has forgotten herself and just wishes to die, but even that she cannot let herself do.

    She desperately seeks a way out in complete darkness, without the slightest hope. Social services, free or expensive rehabs - but he escapes them all. One social worker, looking at her sympathetically, says: “You know, sometimes it helps if you turn him out of the house. Otherwise he will not stop. Think about it... "

    2

    If you are a Christian, you have known and experienced God's love and His power. But this mother does not know God and is deprived of that great mercy that always supports you. She does not know how to call upon Him, cry to Him in prayer, patiently wait for an answer and give thanks for everything. She is alone, thrown into the brutal waves of the chaos of her life. She hides her grief even from her relatives and friends, for this is her shame. It is all her fault (whose else can it be?)! She has raised her son like that, overlooked certain things, worked too much, missed something important... Shame – this is what keeps her from seeking help, and valuable time is lost.

    When her son starts shooting up at home, she finally makes the decision. She tells him he has to leave. Ten days later he comes, stands by the door and pleads her to let him stay just for one night. He is so tired… But she says: “No”… That short reply is the most difficult and painful she has ever given.

    3

    Time passes, but the mother still does not hear anything about her son. At work, she tries to forget her sorrow, but in the evenings, alone with herself, she prepares herself for his death. She imagines how one day a man in the uniform will come and tell her the chilling news, how her heart will stop – and everything will be over.

    But the events take a totally different turn. Her son meets believers on the street. He tells her about them, brings her the Bible and some other books. Something has already changed in him. His eyes must have brightened up. And after a short time they all come to visit: a small group, youth, with a guitar, they are sitting in her living room, drinking tea, talking… And at some point she feels that peace, unearthly peace, enters and fills her heart. Nothing has changed yet, many difficulties still lie ahead, there will be many ups and downs (recovery takes a long time, sometimes years), but the fall of her son into the abyss has been stopped by the loving hand of God and His saving power.

     

    Several words in conclusion

    A faint ray of light appeared in the mother’s life, a hope for her son’s recovery, the straw she could grab onto. But what was in her soul? Old pain, fear, disappointment. And guilt, it probably hurt the most. And then our pastor, Dov, offered us to hold a series of meetings, to create a small group to help mothers of drug addicts find peace and firm hope based on God’s Word. I remember hearing at the very first meeting: “I dare to hope that I understand you as a father. Because I have a seriously ill child at home…”

    These were deep conversations, and the Lord miraculously led us. According to His Word, we learned patience and trust, comprehended the power of prayer, supported and comforted one another. We do not understand everything in this life. It is one of the most difficult questions: “Why did this terrible misfortune befall me and my child?” But the Scripture says: “Trust in Him. Now you are not alone, the loving Lord is with you!” And our fear was going away, and our souls were gradually being healed….

    Renovated Second floor

    By Nina, volunteer from Ashdod

    On the second floor of Aviv Center there is a quiet, cozy spot with several armchairs and a coffee table. Two people can talk here without interference. Usually these are a senior member of a volunteer team and an addict who wants to talk and ask his questions in private.

    We see that for several reasons homeless addicts often do not open up in the presence of others like them. They may come and sit gloomily, just eat and leave without uttering a word. Sometimes it is because of fear, or shame, or the thought "What will they think about me?"… These are the laws of the street.

    But when someone goes upstairs, he finds himself in a world of understanding and sincere sympathy. A volunteer will listen to him patiently. He will not rush things, but also will not hide the fact that the person on the other side of the table is in a very dangerous situation.

    The latter hears: "Make no stay, do not hesitate, because you do not know what will become of you when you leave this place." Indeed, the chilling truth is that the addict may not survive this night.

    “There is a way to salvation!” – says the volunteer. And sometimes the addict starts crying as he has not cried in a long time, and he is not afraid that others will see him and make fun of him.

    Someone is already making a call, informing a rehab center that a new guy is coming.

    “Come on, they are waiting for you!”

    And shortly afterwards they go to the car together. The first right step has been made – away from the deadly abyss.

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