God of Restoration
When Dan Garrett stood in a prison yard and first devoted his life to God, he began his journey toward restoration. He describes going through recovery as “one of the hardest things you can do in life,” as his devotion to God was tested with ups and downs that threatened to tear his new family apart. Now, he and his wife Taneya lead the Adult Rehabilitation Center of The Salvation Army in Long Beach, a center newly renovated to help 99 men at a time achieve recovery. From prison to pastor, from old to new, “that’s our God,” he says, “God of restoration.” Today is move-in day, and the keys are waiting.
Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Lt. Dan Garrett: It’s going to be seven beds set up in here. One more hurdle, final inspection. Then I get the keys.
This is one that I might have to pay attention to. It got a hideaway. I have to watch nooks and crannies like that, because if not, things can go on out of sight, out of mind. That knowledge come from me doing and living the way I was living at times.
I’ve been to prison a whole lot of times. I wasn’t a good guy. I’m just gonna tell it.
Living life on the streets, running around, trying to hustle every day to make a dollar, to do nothing but get high. Back and forth, back and forth constant jail. What kind of life is that?
In 1996, I was informed that I was going back to Corcoran State Penitentiary. But in going across the prison yard, God spoke to me. He said I was going back, but it would be the last time in prison. I knew God was with me, and at that point I surrendered my life to him.
I told him, wherever he lead me, wherever he guide me, I will follow. And I’ve been following him ever since.
In the Bible when they tell you to follow God, nowhere in the Bible that tells you life is going to be easy. It tells you you’re going to go through trials and tribulations.
There was a new program that they incorporated at Corcoran, a drug treatment facility to help those with drug addiction. I actually went to the drug program.
Upon completion, they paid three months of sober living, and at that point, life started to take different shape and form. I met my wife. I met my wife actually in the program.
From there, sober living was ending. Me and my wife moved into an apartment together. At that time she had her son, Christopher. Me and my wife had our first child together. My daughter, Daniella. We started forming and putting our life together as a family.
I have to say life was hard. Trying to focus and do things different I think is one of the hardest things you can do in life. I had to change my mindset, change my friends, change my location, change my whole attitude and things that I was doing. One day my wife decided she wanted to go back and use. I made the decision that I was going to go and use with her. I can say it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.
That vicious cycle started again, round and around and around.
Going through that up and down struggle, me and my wife separated.
My wife kept the kids.
I called home to my mom. She was in Ohio. I asked her to send me a bus ticket. I had to get out of California and go home.
I love my wife. I didn’t want to separate, but that was the choice she made. This time I had to make a choice whether I follow her or I follow God.
The choice I made was to follow God, as hard as it may be.
I went home, regrouped, but in the process of regrouping,
I had to come back to California to get my kids. My wife would show up every two to three months to see the children. It was getting hard on us, dealing with the emotional stress and strain. Kids wondering where their mother was, wanting to know, where was she going? Where was she at?
It was too much on us, so I had to let my wife know that if this is what she wanted to do, she couldn’t come see the kids anymore.
My wife called me the next day and told me she had got arrested.
Upon her release from jail, my wife called and she asked, Can she come home? That’s the choice she would have to make. And she made the choice to come home.
So we’ve been together ever since, doing life and full-time ministry together. We got a God of restoration, and for that I’m thankful.
This is a different area. Going to be an office for my lead counselor. And then coming down this way, my wife wants this office for program. She want to be close to her staff.
Some of the people in this program are here for rehabilitation. Some is because of homelessness, but we accept those to come in and want to come in and get their life back on track.
This program help those get back on their feet.
This is going to give us an opportunity to just reach out.
This whole thing work is if we come together as a family.
A family that prays together stays together. So we want to be known at Long Beach as a family that prays together. If you let all that go and come in here and put new things in your mind, you’re going to be a new creation, a whole new man.
Your family going to be looking at you, smiling, happy that they got you back.
That’s what we do when we’re here together. That’s why I asked y’all if ya’ll gonna ride with me.
All it takes is time. We’re almost in there. One more sign-off. Just one more.
Going back in my life, I see God taking me through situations where he gave me opportunity to Minister to other people. I had an opportunity to go up in fellowship with a group of men.
And that’s when I actually heard God speak to me, letting me know that he wanted me to go into Salvation Army, to be a pastor. In the Salvation Army, to become an officer, if you marry, you have to go in and serve together.
When I went and told my wife that God had spoke to me, first thing out my wife’s mouth was, “I’m not doing that.” So my wife prayed on it.
One day she came back and she mentioned that God had spoke to her. It was a beautiful thing, because now she’s telling me that God said for us to do full-time Ministry together.
When we came to Long Beach the first time, was a building, doors in certain areas looked like it was hanging off the hinges, wires hanging, leaks coming from this pipe, that pipe.
Here it is now coming back to Long Beach. I get to move in and help men restore their lives in a brand new facility.
That’s our God. God of restoration. He restored me. And here it is now, he restored Long Beach.
Okay, these are the ones I need. These are the ones to my building.
I’m getting the keys to a whole brand new building.
99 men I can bring in. 99 men’s lives I can help try to save. So that’s the part that makes my heart jump for joy. Can’t wait to see what God does at Long Beach.
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