As Rafael reaches across the table to pray with a friend, the tattoos on his arms give a glimpse into his story…
On his left forearm, Jesus holding a lamb. On his right, a lighthouse.
But there are also dark chapters in Rafael’s story…
Growing up on the streets
“I grew up in East LA,” says Rafael. “It was a very rough neighborhood—Gang-infested. Full of drugs, crime, and dysfunction.”
Drugs are what first brought Rafael to Bellingham.
“I first came up here as a drug mule, transporting drugs,” he said. “And eventually I got stuck here.”
As time went by, things got tough for Rafael. Homelessness. Addiction. Run-ins with the law. “That’s when someone pointed me to the Lighthouse Mission,” he said.
A beacon of hope
“At first, I just used the Mission for shelter and meals,” he said. “But I was always received with open arms. There was always a hug in the kitchen. That’s what kept me coming back. That’s what gave me hope. That’s what just kept me alive.”
As Rafael began to get counseling and participate in classes, “God did some amazing work in my life.”
New life in Christ
Today, Rafael participates at the Mission in a different way. The 56-year-old is now on staff, serving for the past four years at Base Camp, formerly called the Drop-In Center.
“My role is to just love on people,” says Rafael. “To welcome them right where they’re at and make a connection.”
Your generosity at work
“The only reason we’re here is because of our donors,” says Rafael. “They’re the reason we have a meal today—and that we’re no longer invisible. We all thank you so much!”