Story of Hope: Neil of The Father's Heart
Every year, we celebrate Easter and the power of gospel transformation with special stories of hope from our affiliates. We hope you will be touched by the incredible ways our affiliates are helping their clients make holistic life changes. Read and hear the story of Neil, who found Jesus in an unexpected way at The Father's Heart Ministries!
Hi, my name is Neil Weiss.
I grew up in a Jewish family in Rockland County, New York—my mom, dad, a brother, and a sister. We had a yard, my dad loved his garden. I had to mow the lawn every weekend. I was bar mitzvah-ed. Grew up in a good school district, went to university. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Around the time I went to college, I realized then that I had depression, or a form of it, and ADD. I was a loner—I loved being on my own. I moved to England, went to London School of Economics. I met the woman who was going to be my wife out there. We got married and had two kids, a son and a daughter.
We came back to the United States in 2008, just as the Great Recession hit. I had a job, but literally the day the plane landed with my family on it, my company let 25% of the company go—so of course, as somebody that hadn't started, I was first on the list. I did a couple jobs that I felt were beneath me. This was my narcissistic type of background, and I freely admit that. I went from job to job, struggled, and we eventually moved into the city.
From there, everything started to snowball. My daughter got extremely ill—a life threatening illness. My dad was also ill, and I remember one time visiting him at nursing home, and he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and he said, "I just want to go home." I couldn't do anything. My wife and I split up, and I lost my job.
In 2017, I became homeless, living in my car. I lived in my car up until the end of September, and I sold it for some money. I had lost everything—my family, my friends. When you're homeless, you are a non-person. You’re invisible—people don't see you.
That October, I waited for the last perfect sunset at the beach. And, I got it. I sent pictures to all my family and friends and said, "Folks, this is it." I started taking all my pills that I had, and believe me I had accumulated quite a lot of great stuff. I had one goal, which was to stop hurting.
I don't even remember the timing, but I was about a quarter of the way through the vodka bottle, and I was physically stopped. Something, I didn't know at the time, physically held me. Stopped me from lifting my arms. Held my hand. It was almost like it was a hug. I don't remember the next 24 hours—all I remember was me ending up on the A-Train up in Inwood.
Two days after that, I ended up in Bellevue Hospital, then I went to a couple of drop-in centers. That's when I met a woman who said that she volunteers on Saturday mornings at The Father's Heart ministry. So, I went. That was the start of my going to The Father's Heart every weekend for breakfast.
I started to meet people who would pray for me. There was a woman named Laurie with her husband, and she spoke to me about Jesus. Here I am, somebody that's Jewish—you have a string of garlic around when somebody puts a cross in front of you! I didn't push her away but I took it in. It just was so beautiful the way that she spoke with me.
I ended up going to a men's group at The Father's Heart, and there’s a gentleman who runs it named Ross. He's Jewish but he found Christ 32 years ago. He wasn’t trying to sell me on Jesus, but he asked a simple question, "What's holding you back from accepting Jesus as your Savior?"
I didn't have that ah-ha moment, those angels in the background, the trumpets. It was just that it started to make sense to me. I saw Jesus in the people at The Father’s Heart—not fire and brimstone, but the Word of God as love, as hope. I saw care and compassion. And so I started to follow Jesus. It just made sense, and I started to understand what it means to have a personal relationship with him.
After I accepted Jesus in 2018 and surrendered to him, he started to change me. When I understood that Jesus was on the cross, dying for my sins, that was a whole sea-change for me. He needed to deal with my narcissistic part, my feeling that I needed to be in control. I used to be a ferocious liar, but Jesus is helping me to be honorable and honest. Jesus has taught me that if you're hurt, if you're desperate, if you need help, it actually is a strength to ask for that help. I always believed that I was invincible. I didn't ask anybody for help.
Jesus also started providing for me, and in November 2018 I was able to get a voucher for a really nice shelter. I was regularly volunteering at the Father’s Heart, eventually becoming a supervisor for the breakfast line. I entered therapy, and I haven’t missed an appointment in two years. And just last month, I was able to move into an apartment of my own. In the past, I’ve had a problem in the past of knowing something and feeling it—sometimes the two don't match up. But now the two have matched up—knowing what's right and feeling what's right, and knowing that Jesus is in my life and feeling that Jesus is in my life. I have a hope. Jesus is helping me know and get on a different path, and I can take that path because He's with me.
As I look to the future, there are things I’m hoping for. I'm looking for a job, even at my age, which I know is against me. I want to reconcile with my family. I know that's going to take a long time. I want them to know that I'm proud of them and that I love them. As Pastor Chuck from Father's Heart says, "You've got to get back on your feet. It's going to take time, but Christ believes in redemption but also in reconciliation."
I want to be able to accept what comes, and I know and I feel that I can because the future is brighter for me now than it was in the past. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is. Jesus came for the Jews 2000 some odd years ago—I may be late to the party, but now I’m coming to the party. I'm here.
- More Stories of Hope: Ricky of Brooklyn Teen Challenge
Hope for New York Relief Fund
As of mid-March, 95% of our affiliate programs have been suspended or modified because of COVID-19, and your giving is more important now than ever. Our 60+ affiliates are still providing programs and resources, such as food and shelter, job skills training, youth mentoring, and more, to our most vulnerable and marginalized communities.
We are committed to sustaining the vital work of our affiliates, and we ask that you consider giving generously toward our Relief Fund—100% of your gift this year will go towards relief grants and more resources for our affiliates.