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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 9:20 pm | Fair 48º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission Graduates Celebrate Completion of Treatment Program

On Saturday evening, more than 300 people filled Santa Barbara Community Church to witness 14 men and women receive their diplomas from the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s 12-month residential drug and alcohol treatment program.

It was a joyous occasion as President Rolf Geyling communicated in his remarks, “God’s people rejoice and celebrate over finding those who were lost.”

Each graduate shared something unique and personal about his or her journey, and they unanimously gave God the glory for their newfound hope.

Peter Jesser spoke for the graduating class and shared his own personal story of recovery. He began smoking marijuana in the sixth grade because he thought it was cool, and by ninth grade he had become addicted to methamphetamine. He struggled with this for the next 20 years as a means to cope with depression.

“I constantly searched for ways to alleviate pain and balance emotions,” Jesser said.

During his second hospitalization, due to attempted suicide, he was referred to the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.

Jesser shared the changes he has experienced over the last year as a result of his recovery.

“Through my experience at the Rescue Mission and my church, I received the gift of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “I no longer feel alone or afraid.”

Jesser’s sister lost her battle with alcoholism and passed away on June 18, but being in the Mission’s program has made it possible for him to cope with this loss.

“I am so thankful not to have suffered this tragedy alone,” Jesser shared.

He no longer suffers from depression or suicidal thoughts, which he attributes to his faith in God.

“I am an honest man with integrity, and I have grown to love myself today,” he said.

Santa Barbara Community Church hosted the graduation and provided Bibles to each one of the graduates.

— Rebecca Weber is the director of communications for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission.

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