On the morning of August 18, 2009, I came dangerously close to not living long enough to experience homelessness at all. With my mind and soul polluted by decades of sinful living and my body polluted with alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, I stared into the motel mirror at the person I had allowed myself to become.
Through tears borne by self-hatred, I decided the only way to escape the evil that took up residence in every fiber of my being was to destroy the man staring back at me. Armed with blades from a disposable razor, with hopelessness, desperation and pain, I struck violently at both sides of my neck; blood spurted with shocking intensity.
I calmly lay down on the shower floor to await my self-pronounced death sentence. I had battled my demons of self-indulgence, selfishness and sin for forty years; it seemed I was about to hand Satan the complete victory he had long sought. However, as I would soon discover, our great God had a different ending written for me that day.
A Dangerous Progression
Drugs, alcohol and pornography had been a part of my life since I was a teenager. The Internet made my pursuit of sexual sin simpler and more expedient. My obsession with pornography ultimately resulted in crossing boundaries that no child of God should ever breach. On that summer morning, the FBI had come to arrest me for the possession of child pornography.
When I saw the agents in the parking lot, I slipped undiscovered into my motel room and made my suicide attempt. Drawing closer to death, I thought about my mother who had recently died; she believed that she would be in heaven with God. Remembering that, I asked God to help my mother forgive me. I next asked God to help my two grown children forgive me. Then I said the most powerful words I have ever spoken: “God, please forgive me.”
At that moment, I discovered that asking God for forgiveness is also asking God for His help. For reasons only attributable to Him, law enforcement officials entered my room without legal cause, where they discovered my blood-covered body. When I regained consciousness in the hospital the next morning, I promised God, “Okay, since You decided to save this life, this life now belongs to You.” In spite of having to face horrific charges, I knew I had nothing to fear because I had given myself to God. I was sentenced to a little over four years in federal prison.
Seeing God’s Hand at Work
God was with me through the events leading up to my incarceration, and He was with me each and every day I was in prison. Slowly I learned how to love and trust Him and how to listen and watch for lessons He was trying to teach me. God helped me learn how to reach out to those around me, and He helped me to write a book titled TODAY IS… A Gift From God, a devotional book inspired by His Word.
I was released from the Oakdale, Louisiana, federal correctional institution on May 20, 2014, and I entered Central Union Mission on May 23, 2014. God cleared my path to Washington, DC, and He has done miraculous things in my life since the day I passed through the Mission’s doors. I soon learned that homelessness does not have to mean hopelessness. I would discover that when we give God control over our lives, we can become the men and women that He designed us to be. How can I describe my happiness in the midst of homelessness? A world of Christian love, compassion and opportunity opens up before me daily, and I am constantly in awe of God’s incredible power.
As I have come to learn, Central Union Mission provides those in need not only with nutritional sustenance for a person’s body but also with spiritual food for our souls, which is more important. People facing addictions or criminal records—battling demons of all shapes and sizes—need more than a handout. They need to know that God is the one true source of hope.
I am grateful to God for allowing me to survive my suicide attempt and for leading me to Central Union Mission. I look forward to serving others in any way I can, while following each day the path that God illuminates for me.
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Anthony Casson participates in the Mission’s Special Circumstances Program. He is currently employed at the Mission as a chef while preparing to honor God in the community.