Impact Stories

Life-changing stories of hope, healing and wholeness

Joe & John: Walking the Path to Recovery Together

Sober for the first time after decades of addiction, Joe was living in a halfway house in Boston when he first as invited to attend an ISP spiritual reflection – or “tune-ups”, as they call them in Boston. He said to himself: well, what do I have to lose? And that’s where he first met John. 

John, also in recovery from alcohol addiction and living in a shelter, was invited to the same spiritual reflections and encountered connection and community for the first time in years. He and Joe had a lot in common and, as he says, “our relationship just flourished. Two total strangers, from the same type of backgrounds: homelessness, addiction, substance abuse. This is what ISP does. It brought two strangers together who were on a journey”. 

Both of their journeys up to that point had been rocky. “Some people had pretty much given up on me,” Joe says. “I had come to the realization in my mind that I was going to be a heroin addict for the rest of my life. I didn’t think I could get clean. I was stuck, and I thought there was no way out. It was a lie, but I didn’t know it.”

In those days of my early recovery, I knew there was something missing”, Joe says now. “And when I got involved with ISP, I knew that spirituality was that piece that was missing.”

John’s journey had included 30 years of alcoholism, divorce and homelessness. He’d had a few attempts at sobriety, but this time was different. “I had to get honest in saying that I am powerless over this disease. And once I admitted that, I was open for help. You have to do the work. It’s not easy, it takes baby steps, patience, and time.  But God had a plan for me. I wasn’t fulfilling my purpose in life. ISP walked in a door one day and that was just what I needed. It was the water for my garden, and it just blossomed.”

Joe and John spent years together, building a friendship, attending spiritual reflection sessions, becoming ISP leaders running their own tune-ups and facilitating overnight retreats. In 2021, Joe applied to become an ISP Ambassador of Hope. “They ask you to select someone to walk with you in the program,” he said. “I didn’t think John would be able to do it because of his work schedule, but I asked him anyways. He accepted, and now we’re here. And it’s all God. Through ISP, God puts people in your lives.”

John and Joe have been walking together on a journey in friendship and recovery for over 10 years, supporting one another in their own growth and healing.  Without recovery and without ISP, I know for sure I wouldn’t be here,” Joe declares.

“Life on life’s terms is not an easy thing. Whether you have an addiction or not, life is tough — but when you’re a part of ISP, you, figure out ways of dealing with it rather than using negative emotions,” says John. He has seen a difference in himself – one that others have noticed, too. “I’m more empathetic, kind, caring. I’m no longer that person of old. I have my children back in my life, and they love their dad. It’s little things like that that are the reward, the gifts. You know, God doesn’t make junk. We were created for a purpose, and we found it through ISP.

You can read more about our alumni participants who have experienced life-changing hope, healing, and wholeness, in our book, Stories of Hope.