It’s a sad fact that too many of our military veterans end up on the streets homeless, destitute and too often addicted.
Surveys show 13% of Tulsa’s homeless people are veterans.
Trena was one of them. From the outside, Trena is not one you might have expected to become homeless. She grew up in Tulsa,
attended school here and then became a hospice nurse. She married and had a child. She was raised the daughter of Methodist minister.
But, after a divorce, she quit her nursing job and joined the Army. She became a paratrooper, jumping out of planes during training.
She served her country faithfully for several years. Yet, it was in the Army that she began drinking heavily.
“That was part of the culture,” Trena explains
When she was discharged from the service, she was unprepared for the life that awaited her. Namely, she had no job or home to go to.
For a while, she stayed with friends, couch surfing, until she wore out her welcome. By early September 2013, she was officially homeless,
living out of her car. Then “everything went crazy.” Her car was totaled. She lost what meager possessions she still had. It got worse from there.
Her alcohol addiction morphed into something even more dangerous – the use of methamphetamines and a street drug called K-2 (a blend of herbs
sprayed with potent chemicals that causes a powerful “high”, sometimes involving hallucinations).
It was not unusual for Trena to be out on the streets passed out on a sidewalk. Hunger and the threat of violence were her constant companions.
“It was so cold out there. I was scared all the time. I had everything stripped from me. Literally.
Someone stole the
shoes off my feet! Out on the streets, everyone wants something from you.”
It was hunger that brought her to John 3:16 Mission.
“The food is what brought me in,” she says. “That was the point when things started to change.”
Trena slowly began to surrender to the message of the Gospel. She found herself acknowledging her need for reconciliation with God. She began
coming to the Mission more often, attending the Women’s Day program. She stayed for fellowship, bible studies and other activities. She felt God
at work in her life.
The biggest turning point came when her boyfriend, also homeless at the time, shared a salvation message with her. Trena gave her life into the
care of Jesus Christ with a renewed commitment to stay sober and get off the streets.
And, with God’s help, Trena is no longer a homeless veteran. She and her boyfriend married and share a home together. He is employed and she is
investigating new career options. Both have maintained their sobriety, doing so day by day.
“Even at my worst, God was in my corner. He was looking out for me and He is right now,” she said.
She is grateful for the day she had her first meal at John 3:16 and encountered a loving God who wanted to heal her.
“John 3:16 is amazing. It has been my safe place. The key has been giving myself to God completely. I’m living proof of what God can do.”