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Oct31WedCaptain Peter Kim knew what Bob's life on the streets was like—after all, he'd been there, too. October 31, 2018 by Robin Lillywhite
When Captain Peter Kim first met him, Bob was drinking up to two bottles of vodka per day and was struggling with an alcohol addiction. He had just graduated from a 90-day recovery program. On his way home, he started drinking again. It took about one month before alcoholism took complete control of his life.
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Journey Into Homelessness
Their shared journey began when Captain Peter listened to Bob’s story, after which he had one question: “Bob, will you help me?”
Bob was surprised; he thought that Captain Peter was there to help him, but the Grande Prairie, Alta., pastor shared his own experience of moving “from punk to pastor” and that he had also lived on the streets.
“He wanted to learn more about addiction and homelessness,” says Bob. “I agreed to let him join me so that he could observe what a person in my position goes through. He went with me to all of my appointments: counselling, psychiatry, housing, and so on.”
“The experience was difficult at times as I had to let Bob navigate and ask questions,” admits Captain Peter, “but I did step in when I felt his dignity was being trampled upon.”
This journey allowed Captain Peter to see what it was like to be homeless in their community and observe how someone in Bob’s position was treated.
“I experienced the prejudices and the looks some gave Bob because he was homeless,” says Captain Peter. “There wasn’t a lot of humanity or compassion from some people.”
Asking and Listening
The journey with Bob lasted from January to July of 2017, when Bob went into treatment. Captain Peter realized that there was more work to be done in how the community supports people struggling with addiction and homelessness.
Accordingly, he started an advocacy committee called Voice for the Voiceless in September 2017 with a $20,000 grant. This committee consists of people who have experienced homelessness, rough living, single parenthood and poverty. With this unique perspective, Voice for the Voiceless takes a grassroots approach to helping vulnerable people. Their motto is “Nothing for us, without us,” meaning that while they are grateful for outside assistance, lasting solutions can only come through their input.
Captain Peter believes that this group will help improve service delivery and provide a platform for advocacy for change.
“All we have to do is ask and listen,” he says. “We need to journey with people and not just provide services or programs. Relationships are the foundation of sharing Christ’s love and enacting true transformation in people’s lives, including our own.”
Bob finished his addictions recovery program in July after a year. He keeps in touch with Captain Peter and is doing much better. Their journey together continues.
You can read Captain Peter Kim’s story, “From Punk to Pastor,” at salvationist.ca/from-punk-to-pastor.