The Hope into Action Tenant Awards shine a light on people’s journeys out of homelessnessAs we prepare for the announcements this year, one Empowerment Worker shares with you the story of a previous winner and the impact he and his award had on her.  

I would like to share a bit of one of my tenant's journeys and also a bit of my own self-awareness and hope that it brings some encouragement. 

David, (not his real name), was awarded the Andy Lanning Award last year. I did not really understand the full extent of this until I received the actual award and presented it to David in person. I could not get past the award being about someone’s past criminal attainment and that no crime had been committed since being a resident in a Hope into Action property.   

On receiving the certificate some months ago it had made little impact on David or myself I’m afraid to say.  But in the time it took from receiving the actual trophy on the Monday and presenting it to David on the Saturday I have been struck by how God has spoken to me, giving me understanding and self-awareness. 

David is in his 50’s. He is our church’s first tenant and has been with us since summer 2019. He had just completed 2 years in rehab and was looking for somewhere to move onto. He was at high risk having been in prison numerous times throughout his life, his last 2 long sentences were for carrying an offensive weapon and multiple stabbing. Being dyslexic, which had an impact on his schooling, he had struggled to gain employment. He found himself in tough positions like the slaughterhouse and various factories. Throughout his life, he has been a victim of racism due to the colour of his skin. He ended up being the main man ensuring security for various crack houses for some very fearsome drug lords. He thrived on his reputation and was highly thought of.  Please be assured he is a very likeable chap! 

I accompanied David to an open event for employment with a local double-glazing company and he was taken on working the night shift. David proved to himself over the coming months that he has the fitness and the work ethic (overcoming his problems with dyslexia) to be a highly thought of member of the team. After the lockdown last spring, he started on the day shift. This is where his problems have started. He now works alongside a guy who is extremely racist against him and is very lazy at work. David works hard to complete over and above the targets he is set, doing most of the work and covering for his teammate. This colleague is often setting him up for a fall sabotaging equipment that will inflict harm. The other workers on his shift have noticed and are themselves getting frustrated with this man, offering to “sort him out” for him. It is hard for David - he has a background of not being pushed around and would in the past, have ripped into this guy physically accepting no-nonsense.  

David disclosed that he prays every morning for his own safety and that he will have the patience not to retaliate and put his job at risk. He refuses to tell his manager of the incidents regarding his own health and safety. He says he does not grass people up and he also refuses to be involved with any physical confrontation offered by his colleagues. When asked by this workmate why he is always so happy, David says that it’s because he is a Christian!! He insists that he knows he has a choice in how to deal with this colleague. The fact that he does not retaliate is due to him knowing that he has a choice to react or not. To not react is due to his Christian faith as he feels he is being tested and knows what he has to lose. 

John 3:16 explains that we have a choice to follow Jesus to have the heart of Jesus. We have a choice to follow him or to do it our own way. Ezekiel 32:36 talks about giving you a new heart and how we are in the business of changing hearts, our own and others. On reflection, I am truly amazed how David’s heart has changed and is choosing to follow Jesus and it is getting him through each and every day with the persecution/racism he is receiving on a daily basis. His background has given him an attitude that he will rise to any challenge and will not be defeated. I honestly believe that this is why he has stayed (as many have left due to the physical nature of the work) reaping the rewards of all his hard work. He puts himself out to learn new machinery and is asked to work overtime on a Saturday which he never refuses, even with 6am starts.   

So, coming back to the award, I honestly think David is a worthy winner. He has not only turned his life around and is no longer offending, (which may have been enough to win it) but he has made the choice to go the extra mile to help out his colleague at work. This is due to his faith, which is growing and sustaining him in the challenges he faces each day. He really liked the actual award and we were able to talk about why he was such a worthy winner. I have learnt much from David and he knows that I will always be at the end of the phone when he needs to offload and needs encouragement which is often daily. 

One last note and that is he has been able to get me a quote for windows which he will make himself for me. This means something to meI will be able to look out of the windows, once installed, and they will represent freedom, freedom of choice. 

I hope you have gained some encouragement from this story and would ask for prayers for David and his work life. Thank you.