Skip to the main content.
Donate Need help?
Donate Need help?

whalens
“He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children
and the hearts of the children to their fathers…” – Malachi 4:6

“Everything was spiraling down. There was a lot of hostility in our home toward each other. A lot of hostility. Very little kindness. We’ve lived in addictions our whole lives and incarceration,and we had these two little girls and our son Matthew, and everything was spiraling out of control. We didn’t want to lose our family, so we sold a lot of the things we had and moved to Spokane to be a part of this program” – John Whalen.

When John first arrived from Montana and found out he would be living in a mission, he wanted to turn around and go back home. The friend who told him about the program and encouraged him to come in the first place asked him if he was afraid of a little humility.

“So I stayed and the end result of that, in a nutshell, is that I found out that there are a lot of broken people in this world for a lot of different reasons, and I am one of them. I’m not any different.” That humility impacted his marriage, as well.

John told a story about what he described as “one of the biggest revelations of my life.” During his stay at the Mission, John worked in maintenance under Gayle Havercroft, UGM Facilities Manager. They talked as they worked, and John came to view Gayle as a man of wisdom.

“In the Bible it talks about how the wife shall obey her husband, and I think a lot of people – a lot of men especially – get really caught up on that verse and use it as a tool to dominate their wives and control them, but I was speaking with Gayle and he told me that wasn’t my mail. ‘Your mail is the next verse where it says that you shall love your wife as Christ loved the church, and don’t you ever, ever expect for her to follow you and be led by you if you don’t.’ Huge revelation in my life.”

John and his wife, Trisha, went through the recovery program together – John at the Mission; Trisha at Anna Ogden Hall. In addition to one-on-one counseling and classes, John and Trisha received marriage counseling. They agreed that the work of the past two years is some of the hardest they’ve ever done.

“For me,” Trisha said, “the hardest part about doing this program was the marriage piece because I was not only trying to deal with what was going on with me and why I acted and behaved the way I did and what my beliefs were about myself, at the same time, we’re trying to figure out how to fix a broken marriage, so it was a lot all at once.”

John added: “It takes a whole lot of prayer. Nobody wants to admit they’re wrong. And nobody wants to say they’re sorry. And nobody wants to be humbled in that way. But sooner or later, we have to. . .We had to come to a realization that all these things in the past are in the past, and we can’t keep beating up on each other if we love each other and we want to carry on in this relationship and be a family. And I think that’s what God calls us to do.”

John and Trisha will be part of the UGM graduation celebration on June 19th, 7:00 p.m., at Fourth Memorial Church. John described the significance of the event: “What it means to me is that we stuck to it and that we finished something that we set out to do for the betterment of our family and our marriage.”

While John emphasized that he is still a “very flawed individual,” he also knows he has changed. “I see my children more through the eyes of Christ now. When I look at them, I know they are my reasons. Without the Lord in my life, I can’t have those, and I won’t have those. Where I will be is back in a prison cell where I already spent ten years of my life, and I don’t want to go back there. That’s how I’m a different dad. I’m a completely different person – the way I treat people, the way I look at people. I’m just a lot nicer guy.”

Rebuilding A Life: Brenda’s story of resilience and hope

3 min read

Rebuilding A Life: Brenda’s story of resilience and hope

Many individuals we serve have endured significant losses. How can someone rebuild their life when they lack the resources and emotional strength to...

Read More
Honoring Mothers in Recovery

4 min read

Honoring Mothers in Recovery

The 18 to 24-month-long UGM Life Recovery program requires vulnerability, persistence, and commitment from the men and women who participate....

Read More
UGM Camp: The lasting impact of faith and friendships

4 min read

UGM Camp: The lasting impact of faith and friendships

Preparing for UGM Camp The 2024 UGM Camp season will be here soon, and we are prepping in anticipation of all the children who are about to be...

Read More
The Emotional Toll of Fatherlessness

The Emotional Toll of Fatherlessness

A common thread among many people who enter the LIFE Recovery program is an absent or abusive father. Samantha’s story reflects the devastating...

Read More
A Graduation Story

A Graduation Story

John and Trisha Whalen, who came from Montana to join the Union Gospel Mission recovery program, will be part of the graduation ceremony on June 19...

Read More
Three of God's Children

Three of God's Children

CHRIS family breakdown, substance abuse Chris’ mom went to prison when he was three for selling cocaine. His dad hung himself when Chris was eight....

Read More