Friday, March 18, 2022, was National Sleep Day, and the Serta Mattress Company was at the LA Mission to deliver what turned out to be a true miracle.
Among the amazing group of leaders that I was introduced to on this special day was Gustavo “Gus” Torres. When I began to speak with Gus, whose smile lit up the entire area where he stood, I learned that while Gus was a leader, he was still a student in the Mission’s “Life Recovery Program for Men.”
Gus expressed pure excitement and deep gratitude for where he is in life now and where he sees himself going. He is thankful for the opportunity that has been given to him through the Los Angeles Mission. Gus talked about his journey and how he has a passion to help others like him to get off the streets, and to show them how they too can live a life of purpose and wholeness, if they choose to.
Gus, who has an 8-year-old son, was brought up Catholic and his mom was a praying woman. Gus did not believe in God, and he often teased his mom for praying. Gus had seen so many bad things in his life that he thought that his mother’s prayers were a waste of time. Gus now realizes that it was the prayers of his mother that helped to usher him to where he is today.
A former atheist, Gus experienced years of drug use including 18 years as a meth
user. He was homeless for over five years and during his time on the streets, Gus did whatever he felt he needed to do to survive including staying as drunk as he could, staying high, and stealing any and everything that wasn’t nailed down, including cars.
Gus stayed in trouble, and his former addictions helped to destroy his marriage, and caused him to be separated from the son that he loves so dearly. Gus experienced being pistol whipped and kidnapped, and utter hopelessness during his time of homelessness, and drug abuse.
During Gus’ last bout of facing jail time, he was offered a way to get out of going to jail again by entering a release program that was offered to him. Gus quickly agreed to jump on this opportunity, as a way to avoid being locked up again. However, Gus had no idea that he was entering a 24-month men’s recovery program that was designed to transform his life.
Gus said, “God must have shielded my ears from hearing those words ’24 months recovery program.'” Gus said that he only heard the words “release program,” so he went for it. Gus stated that if he had heard the words ’24 months,’ there is no way that he would have chosen the program. He would have opted for jail time instead.
Gus is no longer an atheist, but is now a born-again Christian and serves as a student leader at the Los Angeles Mission. He knows that it was the prayers of his mother that helped him to get where he is today. Since entering the Life Recovery Program at the LA Mission, Gus has not only given his life over to Christ, but he has a passion to help others that were like himself to learn about God, and to let them know that they too can live a better and more meaningful life.
Gus desires to help people with addictions, by one day becoming a drug counselor. Gus is thankful for the awesome chaplains at the Los Angeles Mission, and for his church home, Fearless Church in downtown Los Angeles, where he serves as a leader, and is passionate about ensuring that others are not only invited to come there, but that they are able to attend, and experience the love of God for themselves.