Rusty's Story

"Everything I’ve gone through, all the hardships and failures, God has been there to rescue and rebuild me. He’s never given up on me and I have to believe he has a plan for me.”

Faith brought Rusty to the doors of Mel Trotter Ministries. He was on the way to his hometown of Flint, Michigan, with nothing but two pieces of luggage and a Bible, sitting in the Grand Rapids bus station deciding what to do next. He had no home to go to, no idea what awaited him in Flint except broken dreams and broken relationships.

“The only two people in the bus station that Saturday saw me praying and wondered where I was headed. I told them I had no idea but felt like God wanted me in Grand Rapids,” said Rusty. “They told me about Mel Trotter Ministries. I didn’t have a clue what it was, but when I saw ‘Jesus’ on the sign I knew this is where the ladies told me I needed to be.”

The first person Rusty saw was Mel Trotter advocate DeMaceo looking at him through the glass doors. “DeMaceo bee-lined for the door; he must have known I needed help because I wasn’t moving,” said Rusty. “He welcomed me in.”

Rusty had never been homeless before despite addictions and mental health issues that lead to incarceration. He had no resources, family, or friends as he stood alone outside the MTM doors. He entered and found home.

“The staff at Mel Trotter Ministries guided me every step of the way as I rebuilt myself emotionally, financially, and physically,” said Rusty, who entered immediately into the Step-Up Recovery program and the other programs offered at MTM.

“I remember when I was first here, laying down at night with everyone else in the room. There was a certain smell that you aren’t used to if you’ve never been homeless,” he said. “I’m lying there feeling pretty horrible when this moment of perfect peace comes around me, wrapping me like a blanket. I could no longer smell anything and felt completely comfortable and at peace. I knew in that moment that this is where God wanted me to be. I looked around and felt compassion; I saw innocence and hope and purpose for every single person.”

Rusty has wanted to help others from his earliest memories. As a young man he took food to people who were homeless, took them out to dinner, gave them water, and sat with them. This interest was something God designed in him, he believes. Since then he struggled with self-worth, depression, and addictions. At his lowest point, he decided to “give God a chance to be real in my life.”

“I hadn’t read one word of the Bible until I was 28. I didn’t grow up in a church-going family but it was a loving family,” he said. “Now, having a relationship with Jesus, I can see his compassion so many times in my life. I see it in what he’s done to my heart, how I feel about myself and others.”

This man who remembers “the places you turn left when you should have turned right,” sees Jesus’ compassion every day in kindnesses shown to others in the shelter, even just a quick hello. His dream is to share that compassion with others.

Rusty is open to whatever God has for him in the future. “Everything I’ve gone through, all the hardships and failures, God has been there to rescue and rebuild me. He’s never given up on me and I have to believe he has a plan for me. I want to be open to what that plan is,” he said. “One thing is for sure: I want to love God and help others.”

He credits Pastor Ed with helping him grow spiritually and grow that compassion for those in need, for those who are broken and in recovery.

“I’ve struggled with personal failures and the world constantly telling me this is as good as it gets after what I’ve done and where I am now, but through faith and God’s relentless love for me, he’s turned all that into good things,” said Rusty. “Put God first in everything you do. Anything and everything good will happen after that.”

Rusty, who came to Mel Trotter Ministries a broken and hurting man, urges everyone to offer a hand up to those in need.

“Never forget where you came from, and don’t wait for what you think is the perfect time,” he said. “Any time is a good time to reach out and help someone.”

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