Peace at last for a Navy vet: Kenneth's Story

Navy veteran Kenneth (Ken) spent more than a week in the woods in Western Massachusetts. He wasn’t on a camping trip; he was on a mission to end it all. He had taken a bunch of pills, “but they didn’t do it,” he says. He also had a knife, “but it wasn’t sharp enough.” So, he finally walked out of the woods, a failure at his life’s one last plan.

Then God’s plan kicked in. He called a deacon from a local church he used to attend, who helped get him into the Veterans Administration (VA) suicidal watch program. The VA then placed him in their homeless unit in Haverhill, MA. The social worker there introduced him to Pastor Marlene Yeo of Community Christian Fellowship (CCF) and its outreach ministry Somebody Cares New England (SCNE).

“I wasn’t ready to go back to church. I was too depressed,” says Ken. But finally, he woke up one Sunday morning and said, “Okay, now I’m ready, and he went to CCF’s Sunday service.

“I walked past the church three times. I was scared to go in. I was afraid of what they might think of me.” On the third pass, Reggie Moriarty, a staff member, came out and invited him in.
Ken was about fifty years old, and was used to rejection. He had been abused as a child by his alcoholic father, abandoned and rejected much of his life. Now, he was wondering if things could actually change. One of the first things he noticed was, “they did everything Jesus wanted a church to do – feed the hungry and help the poor, the depressed, and the homeless. They practiced what they professed. That was different from other churches.”

He attended the emotional healing course given by Pastor Marlene, called The Emotionally Healthy Church.  “That blessed me a lot,” says Ken. “It helped me forgive my father. That’s when I finally had peace in my life. I was able to tell my father I loved him. I had to do it in prayer, because my father had passed away 13 years ago.”

Ken doesn’t let things fester anymore, never lets a grudge build. He says, “Now I’m at peace. I try proactive love and forgiveness.” The pills he has to take sometimes make him too sleepy to get going, but he says, “Whenever I can I force myself to get up I go volunteer.” He volunteers for the Christmas Tea, the Bless the City Block Party, and any outreach program he can get to.

To anyone who may be struggling like he was, Ken says, “You have to try it to believe it. Give it a chance to work. You can’t just come once; you have to persist and persevere. It’s a daily walk, and they have prayer Monday through Friday. I try to attend that every day. I am single, so I can devote myself to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Today, despair is defeated – not Ken. Instead, he finds joy in blessing others. Now he says, “People actually say I help them with my cheerfulness!”

(Taken from December 21, 2011 Issue.  Written by Jackie Picken)