I didn’t have a father for much of my early years. My mother raised me and my four siblings in the Calgary Inner city. I gravitated towards skateboarding, music, and the art culture in Calgary. The people I surrounded myself with were older and involved with the streets. I spent years finding ways to make money, I used drugs, sold drugs, and became a sly manipulator.

One evening after being out drinking and ‘car hopping’ vehicles with these friends, the police pulled us over, detained me, and took me home. My mother was waiting for me. She cried while she looked me in the eyes, slapped me across my cheek, and told me I had reminded her of my father.

This was my moment of clarity. I knew I couldn’t keep living like this.

A few months later she told me about Rock Solid Refuge, a program for young boys who struggle with substance abuse, dysfunctional lifestyles, depression and pornography. I was ready to change my life and I trusted my mother that she knew what was best for me.

It was a long, silent drive from Calgary to Rock Solid, but I was welcomed with smiles and friendly faces happy to see me. It wasn’t what I had expected.

I tried to absorb as much as I could because I knew if I didn’t come home with any skills to help me succeed, then why did I waste a part of my life at Rock Solid?

I was raised Christian and always believed in my heavenly Father, but I grew closer to Him than ever before, and learned many things that I never knew about Jesus.

I wanted to push my faith to its limits, Rock Solid gave me those tools and opportunities to do so. My mentors encouraged me to fast, pray, dwell on the scriptures, learn from my Christian brothers and sisters, and serve as often as possible. I learned more in 6 months at Rock Solid than I ever did in a year outside of the program.

Dear Reader:

Stories like Eli's are why so many people support this ministry. If you want to be a part of these stories of transformation, consider giving to Rock Solid Refuge by clicking here.

I came back to Rock Solid several months after my program ended, I wanted to become an intern. I had serious doubts I would ever come back to Rock Solid when I left, but God placed it on my heart to return and serve.

I knew the difficulties the students face in the program and I learned how to intentionally seek and help them work through these struggles. The staff put responsibility and more tools in my hands, and I did my best to fall into my role and help the students just as I was assisted when I was in the program a few months before. I became more and more passionate about youth care, and coming up on my 18th birthday I was eligible to work for the organization.

Immediately after my 9 month internship, I was asked to join the Rock Solid staff team in a Summer Worker position. I prayed and asked God to put the pieces together, and then followed His plan. I spent the summer working for Rock Solid, and it was an honour to be a part of the team. I’ve learned so much about fellowship, my Savior Jesus, youth care, ministry, and myself. It baffles me some days. After my summer role, I will be continuing my journey through mission trips to hostile countries, and getting an education to better evangelize to people with radically different ideals and worldviews.

Dear reader: Stories like Eli's are why we do what we do. It's a work that cannot be done without your support. If you want to be a part of the incredible work that God is doing, invest in our students, our ministry, and His Kingdom, click here to donate.