For many years, Minister James Scott Melton lived the good life. He lived in Sunny California, had plenty of money, and dined at the best restaurants, but things hit rock bottom in 2007, and he found himself broke and homeless.
Scott was born and raised in Spartanburg, South Carolina but spent most of his life in San Diego, California. He obtained a BA in Sociology and Psychology from United States International University and a Masters degree in Education from San Diego State. After a short but successful career as a banker, he changed his career to teaching. For 30 years, Scott taught social science and social studies in the California public school system. He enjoyed the work that he did and was able to mentor and inspire the lives of many youths.
For many years things were good. When he retired, he was making 70,000 a year. But Scott had a secret. He had a severe drug addiction that he managed very well without anyone noticing. Later in his career, Scott’s drug problem began to affect his work, and he was forced to take an extended leave of absence when issues of job performance arose. Scott also began having problems with his health. While he was on leave from work sadly he was diagnosed with cancer, so he decided to retire from teaching and concentrate on getting better.
During his retirement, Scott was still able to take good care of himself. In 2006, he moved back to Georgia to take over his mother’s home. He received a lump sum of money from his teacher retirement and lived off that until he recuperated from cancer. But his money did not last. He lived off the money, made repairs to his home, and took care of some mooching friends that moved in with him from California. He also started back using drugs and after one year he ran out of money. When all his money was gone his so called friends left, and his home went into foreclosure. At one point a family friend helped with the mortgage, but he eventually moved out and turned the house over to his friend.
Now without any money and no home Scott decided to move to Atlanta. First he went to the Salvation Army, but they were not able to take him because he was disabled. Luckily, one of his cousins helped him find the Atlanta Mission, and he was fortunate enough to get a bed and stayed there a week. Scott says the first week being homeless was horrible. “It was nasty, dirty, and the people were crazy. At that time, they allowed people to stay on campus instead of leaving during the day. One day out on the yard I watched a guy chase a pigeon and take the bread out of its mouth and eat it. There were a lot of fights. I had bags and was afraid to leave my bags, so I didn’t leave them even to eat.” The last day of that week when the residents of the shelter left the yard he didn’t have anywhere to go so he went the Centennial Olympic Park sat on a bench, wrote in his journal, and cried. He asked God to “get him out of this mess.”
When Scott went back to the shelter that night, he found out about a drug rehabilitation program the shelter had and enrolled in it. The rehab program was a blessing because he gave his life to God. It also gave him something positive to do during the day. Scott finished the program in 6 months and gained deliverance from a 30-year addiction to drugs.
After that, Scott’s life got better and better. He lived and worked at the mission for seven years. He went from living in the shelter part of the Atlanta Mission to getting a room in Fuqua Hall that has rooms similar to dorms. During this time, he worked in several capacities. He worked as a servant leader in the program, led the Atlanta Mission Choir, taught various classes and worked at the front desk. “I did all I could to give back what was given to me and strengthen my relationship with God.”
In 2010, he was able to collect SSI and started having a monthly income. Two years later, he became a licensed minister at Faith Fellowship Church of the Nazarene in Decatur, Ga where he also serves as minister of music, teaches Sunday school, and Bible study. After many prayers and of lots of searching Scott found an affordable apartment and moved out of the Atlanta Mission in 2014. “Feels good to have my own place. I have always had my own place home or apartment. It felt good to get control of my own place again. Life is the way it should be.”