As the unmarried homeless couple stood on a street corner in northern California with their four children holding up a sign that read "Family Needs Help God Bless," little did they know that within 10 years they would be living comfortably in their own house overlooking Lake Elsinore and living their lives by "God's design."
In a recently released book called From The Curb To A Castle, author Robert Wessely recounted how he and his homeless family were saved by a "perfect stranger," who picked them up off the streets and let them live in his home for seven months, leading them to God and helping them eliminate all drug and alcohol addictions.
In interviews with The Christian Post, Robert and Melissa Wessely admitted that their lives were in a dark place in the winter of 2004-2005, when they were living night-by-night out of motel rooms, and spent the days begging for money on the streets of Eureka so that they could afford the next night's room.
But as the last part of their sign read, "God Bless," God truly blessed them just a few days before Christmas, when a strange woman drove up to them as they were panhandling from a curb and gave the family $10.
Robert said he immediately went into a nearby gas station and spent the money on food for his children, all of which were under the age of seven. The mysterious woman drove up again to the street corner and this time gave them her husband's cell phone number and told them that he could offer Robert a job at his construction company.
That night, Robert called the number and was given a job as a day laborer working for a man by the name of Carl Hawkins. As Christmas eve approached, Hawkins told CP that he felt inclined by God's will to let the family stay in his own home with his family over the holidays, rather than having them spend Christmas on the streets.
"The next day was Christmas morning. It was a whole new start on life. It was a beautiful thing, the perfect stranger to answer God's call. That is a blessing," Robert said.
But as the Christmas came and went, Hawkins said that God called him to continue providing for the family and to help them get their lives in order so that one day they can provide for themselves.
"He started working for me the day before Christmas eve. I felt the Lord saying 'Christmas is all about me and my love. Show [them] my love,'" Hawkins explained. "It started out that they were just going to live with us over the holidays. It was after that that the Lord impressed upon me to really open the doors and offer him a place to live with his family, if they were willing to live by God's design."
But if the family was going to live in his house, Hawkins laid down some ground rules that the family needed to abide by, such as honoring God with thanksgiving for every meal, going to church for worship, having worship and family time during the week, no using drugs or alcohol, no cursing, managing the finances appropriately and extending forgiveness to each other.
"When you live your life by God's design, you are going to see the results and produce and the fruit from that and it is going to be positive, I guarantee it," Hawkins asserted. "At that point, it is just a question of whether you want to submit to God and his existence or not. I am not going to try to convince you. He will do it Himself, if you live by His word."
The Wesselys said they were so desperate to stay off the streets, that they willingly accepted Hawkins terms. Hawkins explained that he first had some concern about Melissa, because of her upbringing in an atheist household. However, Melissa said she felt pulled toward God as she started going to Bible studies. Within three months she and Robert were both baptized and saved.
"It was pretty amazing. I had lived so long without [believing] in anything," Melissa explained to CP. "When he first said we had to go to church, I was like 'OK, it doesn't really mean anything to me.' But as I went to church, I met the ladies and it was really interesting and it just came into my heart to believe in Him. I started going to Bible study with the ladies there and it was just really great to have that family."
Robert had his own struggles dealing with his alcohol addiction, but reluctantly gave up drinking one night after being confronted by Hawkins about his problem. After Robert decided he needed to stop, the entire family went out for pizza and he had his ceremonial last pitcher of beer.
"That's what [Robert] wanted to do for his last drink and so we all agreed and we went and that was his last one and he has not drank since." Melissa stated.
In the 2005, Robert and Melissa decided to finally get married after being together for about four years and having children. They asked Hawkins to officiate their wedding. Having grown close with the church community, members from their church pitched in to help provide them with some extra cash for their honeymoon.
After months of living under "God's design" the family finally mustered enough cash together to get their own apartment and moved out of the Hawkins household later in the summer of 2005.
"Eventually we did get back on track. When we were broken, we were broken together and we healed together. It was an amazing thing," Robert said. "The Lord always had a plan for us. He was always guiding us from location to location, from street corner to sober living. He was always there for my family and at the time we didn't realize that until we got saved."
After living on their own for a few months, Robert said they decided to take a "leap of faith" and move down to Southern California, where he originally grew up so that his kids could know their grandparents and other relatives. They moved down without jobs, but were eventually able to find employment and get an apartment of their own again.
As Robert got a job working as a supervisor for a logistics firm and Melissa became a restaurant manager, the Wesselys saved enough resources to buy their own house. About two years ago, the Wesselys purchased a home on a hill overlooking Lake Elsinore, which is about 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
"Instead of looking at a trickling of water on a curb, now on our front porch, I get to look at a lake. The beauty behind God is a true blessing," Robert said. "We literally went from curb to castle."
Wanting to share his story with other homeless individuals and families, Robert periodically hits the street corners to help spread hope in the lives of the homeless.
"I am able to use this book as a tool now to go to that curb that they are sitting on and I am able to go and give them some inspiration," Robert said. "I am able to tell them that 'The Lord is just waiting for you.'"
Hawkins, who is referenced in Wessely's book as "Chuck," has started his own ministry called Chuck's Love. Hawkins' goal is to take the program that he ran in his house with the Wessely family and use it to enable homes and churches across the country to do change the lives of homeless families in their neighborhoods.
"I am excited to see what type of provision God is going to bring to bring this about, whether it is just one house in one town or one house in every county in California or the United States, I don't know. I just want to be faithful if God is calling me to do something and do it to the best of my ability," Hawkins said. "If we were to have that type of Christian-based ministry where Jesus came down and ate with the sinners and made himself one with the sinner so that he could win the sinner, that is really the heart behind Chuck's Love. It's not my love, it's God's love,"