When James McBride came back from Vietnam, his life floundered for many years. Having suffered a terrible injury to his leg, “Mac” as he’s known, soon found himself using and selling drugs. With no steady job and no place to live, the street became his home. He lived in that state of homelessness for 10 years.
Changing his life might have seemed impossible to some. But nothing is impossible with God.
Mac remembers one winter when it was so cold and he was squatting in an abandoned building. “I got on my knees and told God that if he helped me out of this, I would never go back.”
The First of Many Angels
Slowly, things began to change for Mac. He found a job with a temp service. But getting to work was a challenge. And he didn’t always have transportation. One day, he shared his transportation issues with a woman from SVdP who used to visit with the homeless.
“She gave me a check to help,” he says. “Just like that. And I gave it to the person who would sometimes drive me. I think when you start helping yourself, people don’t mind helping you.”
This woman was just one of the “angels” Mac saw God bringing into his life. And the more people who helped him, the more he wanted to help others.
“I used to be a taker, not a giver,” he says. “I finally realized life wasn’t about me, but God.”
Using Every Day for God
Mac decided he wasn’t going to be a statistic. His life continued to improve. And often there was someone helping him make the latest change. For example, when he needed a new housing option—the people he was living with were using drugs—his pastor helped him find an apartment. He continued working, finding better opportunities over the years—often because others recognized how hard he worked.
Today, though officially retired, he considers SVdP his job.
“I’m here every week and whenever else they need me,” he says. He’s been volunteering with SVdP to help minister to the city’s homeless for 13 years now.
He says he helps meet the basic needs of the homeless, but also tells people about God whenever he gets the chance.
“I’m just glad to be here,” he says. “I shouldn’t be here, but I am and I’m using every day for God. There’s still work to do in the vineyard.”
One of his newest vineyard jobs is the Changing Lives Forever (CLF) group that is getting started this month. Participants are either previously or currently homeless. Mac hopes to encourage group participants by sharing that they can have hope that God has another plan for them.
“Everyone deserves a chance. The homeless are human beings just like all of us,” he says. “Anything I can do to help them and SVdP, well, I’m all in.”