How an addict took a ride to the bright side

Jimbo Hawkins’ Story

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Warren Merck didn’t receive a vision.

There was no supernatural voice.

The decision to make difference was as ordinary as getting behind the wheel on Sundays to drive crosstown and back.

The Owl’s Nest, a nationally recognized drug treatment center, was a place he knew well. Warren had a close family member who once struggled with addiction, so he knew first-hand how challenging it could be to lead people out of addiction.

“I had a heart for these folks,” Warren says.

Warren was an owner at NewSpring Florence from its beginning in 2009. He saw the way NewSpring welcomed struggling sinners, the down-and-out and the broken — people the traditional church would shun — and he knew it was just the place addicts could meet Jesus.

I should have been dead a long time ago - Jimbo

A Weekly Joy Ride

Every week, rain or shine, Warren would hop into his vehicle, and drive to The Owl’s Nest. He would strike up conversations and befriend the men the best he could, and he wouldn’t leave until he’d offered the residents a ride to church.

Some of them said yes. Some of them said no. And some, like Jimbo Hawkins, said maybe another time.

Warren wasn’t one to dwell on the arms-length defensiveness, the polite brush-offs, or even the adamant rejections he’d get. Warren believed every week that this week would be the week that any of the men might have their date with divine destiny.

In the years Warren has taxied residents back and forth, that’s been the case countless times. 

Jimbo says it took a couple weeks. Warren remembers it was four or five. But around the fall of 2010, Jimbo, a formerly homeless crack addict from Dallas, finally took Warren up on the offer of a ride.

A Community of Hope

Jimbo was awed by the lights and music at NewSpring, a far cry from the Episcopal church he attended as a boy, but what he heard was truly amazing — and life-changing.

Jesus loved Jimbo — yes, even a desperate screw up like him — and by faith in Jesus, Jimbo could have a fresh start.

When Jimbo asked Jesus into his life during his next visit, the two decades wasted on the streets, the pain and the sorrow, all of it, was suddenly swallowed up by hope — of a new life filled with opportunity, possibility.

“I should have been dead a long time ago, but God’s got a plan,” Jimbo says. "He ain’t done.” 

Watch the video to see how Warren became part of a community that surrounded Jimbo as he learned to lead an ordinary life filled with hope and purpose — and how Warren’s continuing outreach to Jimbo and other addicts came full circle for both. 

Sharing your story is a simple and powerful way to tell people about Jesus.

Sharing your story is a simple and powerful way to tell people about Jesus. By talking about what Jesus has done for you, it’s like joining a conversation God is already having with them.