As Easter approached and Springs Rescue Mission staff hustled to prepare a meal for hundreds of guests, Luis was fast at work building a full-scale cross to adorn the dining hall.
“I felt like I wanted to do something special,” he said. “I felt the spirit of God. … I felt at peace every time I worked on it.”
The opportunity presented itself to Luis, a lifelong artist and creative, while he worked in the Mission’s workshop as a participant of the New Life Program — SRM’s one-year residential addiction-recovery program for men.
Luis, now 58, was born in Cuba and moved with his family to New Jersey at age 6. After school, while his parents worked, Luis immersed himself in sci-fi TV shows like “Lost in Space” — sparking a lifelong love of space and learning.
Growing up in the Catholic culture of a New Jersey neighborhood, Luis was no stranger to the church. He was later born again and strengthened his relationship with God. Even in his hardest times, Luis never gave up on his faith. But he wanted more.
“When I was first born again in 1995, I had a zeal for God,” he said. “But then life took over, and I lost that fire.”
Luis went to design school, worked as a fashion illustrator and was even a model for a time. He later joined an early wave of designers and illustrators who learned to use computers for their trade. He excelled, designing everything from posters to websites.
“I went from more traditional illustration using acrylics and oils to everything turning digital,” he said.
After Luis first visited Colorado in 1999, he fell in love with the mountains and the weather — he vowed to one day return as a resident. Soon after, he landed a job with a local, multimedia company and moved to Colorado Springs.
“I was doing really well but my drinking started getting really bad,” he said. “I felt alone. I felt so stressed out. I was battling some things inside me, but I knew something was stirring.”
Drinking gradually consumed Luis’ life, until one day his friend told him about the New Life Program at Springs Rescue Mission.
“I think God wanted me to do this program,” he said. “That was the beginning of my true transformation.”
Luis accredits his success in the program to his faith and a deep connection with his case manager, who has helped him gain new and important perspectives on life.
“I feel like he’s been a catalyst,” he said. “I felt the spirit of God in those meetings, and it’s really helped me have a deeper understanding of my core beliefs.”
The Bible verse Luis chose to share for his graduation in July was 2 Samuel 7:18: “Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.”
Luis now lives in housing for sober men, works for the City of Colorado Springs through its WorkCOS program and continues to create art. The cross he created for Springs Rescue Mission stands as a statement of his faith and a testament to his skill.
“I feel that fire for God again,” he said. “I know He has placed me here.”
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