Soft-spoken and unassuming, Ottie's the guy who will greet you with a friendly smile and offer a helping hand. He’s one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. And yet, hidden behind his kind eyes, is a painful past. It was in the spring of 2015 when Ottie first came to the Mission from Ozark, Mo. His life was in shambles, and he had already tried to end it. “I was living with a woman who was doing meth, and came home one day and all of my stuff was gone,” Ottie recalled, and then added quietly, “so I tried to commit suicide.”
Thankfully for Ottie, a friend prevented him from making that tragic mistake. As it turned out, that friend had been sheltered at Victory Mission during a difficult time in his own life. He then persuaded Ottie to check into the Mission’s rescue facility for men, Victory Square. He stayed there for three weeks, trying to figure out the next step in his life. It was during the Mission’s chapel service – where meals are provided every night of the year – that Ottie was given a new sense of direction. “I was at the chapel one night and I felt like God was telling me to get into the (recovery) program,” he said. “My plan was to get into the Mission, get a job, and get out. So I asked God, ‘Should I (join the program) or get out and get a job?’ I felt like He was leading me to stay.”
Six months later, Ottie graduated from 12-12 – now known as P.R.E.P. for Life – and while working towards graduating accepted a position within the Mission’s maintenance department. A job Ottie loves.But landing a job at Victory Mission wasn’t the biggest blessing to come Ottie’s way. The biggest by far was the new life he came to experience through a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ. He found hope in the power of the gospel, and forgiveness as the result of Jesus’ sacrifice for his sins on the cross. “I was living a life like the walking dead. The hardest thing for me was learning to forgive myself,” he admitted.
Ottie said the scripture of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future,” sustained him during some of those dark days early on at the Mission. Life has continued to change, and change for the better, since Ottie first walked through the Mission’s doors. His graduation from the recovery program was followed by another graduation several months later. This was from the Mission’s CDO (Christian Discipleship Opportunity) program, where Ottie not only learned how to grow in his own relationship with the Lord, but also how to disciple others. But the growth didn’t stop there. Two months into CDO, Ottie signed up for Servant Leadership Training, a Web-based learning facility based in Kansas City, Mo. He completed the year-long program, where he gained valuable leadership skills targeted specifically at working with challenging people and places.
The next phase in Ottie’s growth is at Ozarks Technical College, where he’s studying to become an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) technician. In fact, he’s now into his second semester. Initially, he had planned to work for a certificate. Now, he’s thinking about going for an Associate’s Degree.
“I have to push myself sometimes,” he said. “If you get stagnant you’ll go backwards. So you’ve got to stay focused on going forwards.”
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