People You Should Know: Jim MacCoy

I was 14 when I first got into trouble with drugs and alcohol. At the restaurant where I worked, I could get any drug I wanted. I used drugs pretty much every day from then on. In my late 20s, I fell into 12 years of heroin addiction before doing a long-term treatment program. But after about five years sober, I started drinking again. It became a problem for decades.

When I came to Rockford Rescue Mission, all I wanted were my basic, daily needs: three hot meals and a cot. What I got was a life. The Mission is an extension of Jesus Christ working in people’s lives. The sky didn’t open and the ground didn’t shake, but slowly and steadily I came to know God.

I wasn’t quite finished making bad decisions, though. After I left, I fell back from my faith and gradually into drinking again. One night the police pulled me over, and the resulting DUI landed me in the Winnebago County jail. Among those who visited me was a staff member from the Mission, who invited me to come back.

This time, I wasn’t solely focused on not using alcohol and drugs anymore. That was a given. Now it was about continuing to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. Even when I didn’t quite get it the first time, the seeds were planted.

Today, I wake up feeling free and joyous. I love my life. God has things left for me to do. In my semiretirement, I lead a Christian men’s group and I stay connected to my recovery support team. I used to think I would end up doing something big and earth-shattering. But what I’ve come to realize is that it may just be me saying the right thing to the right person at the right time. I may never even know what a difference I made.”