Surviving Killer Cold

Finding New Hope at Mission

Remember last February when record breaking Killer Cold (the so-called Polar Vortex) hit Tulsa? Temperatures plunged below freezing for two weeks. On some nights, temps dropped well below zero.
Ryan was out in that cold for six nights with only the clothes on his back (no winter coat -- just a hoodie) jeans and mesh tennis shoes.
“I was sleeping, or trying to, on a wood palette behind a Walmart,” he said. “I don’t know how I survived. One morning, I woke up frozen to the wood because of ice and sleet.”

Why God?

But Ryan wasn’t in his right mind. In fact, he was battling drug and gambling addictions that had destroyed his life. He tried to stay warm by going into stores and riding city buses, sometimes being kicked out into the cold again.
He had given up and was ready to die. In fact, he wanted to die.
“I kept asking God: Why? Why are you letting me suffer? I just felt hopeless.”
He took his shoes off (he can’t remember why) and couldn’t get them back on his frostbitten feet. He began walking barefoot on the ice and snow until someone noticed and called an ambulance. By then, his fingers and toes had turned black and blue.
Ryan eventually had several fingers partially amputated though doctors were able to save his toes. Due to his depression and suicidal ideation, he stayed for a time in a local mental health facility. However, they could not keep him indefinitely and he was discharged. With nowhere else to go, he came to John 3:16 Mission with low expectations.
“I had very little hope and I was ashamed to go to a homeless shelter, which is funny, because I was homeless,” he said. “I figured they would probably kick me out and so my plan was just to kill myself.”
Man survives killer cold

Finding a Purpose

God, however, had different plans for Ryan. One night during chapel service, Ryan felt God’s spirit move him to stand up and raise him arms in the air. In that moment, Ryan said, God spoke to him.

“He told me I was loved and I was forgiven and that I was His child,” Ryan said.

From that moment, Ryan’s cravings for alcohol, drugs and gambling evaporated, as did his desire to end his life.
“My life has totally changed,” he said. “I am truly a new creation. I could see that He was with me the entire time, even when I was out in the cold in my worst moments.”
Ryan is currently in Phase III of the Mission’s year-long, five phase recovery program and will complete the program midway through 2022. He is one of the many men and women whose lives you are helping to change here at the Mission.
“I am so grateful for everyone who has helped give me this chance,” he adds. “God has saved my life and now I know -- I have a purpose!”