Friday, June 23, 2017

All this and a box of Kleenex...

The other day, a guest came to meet with our discipleship dorm coordinator and handed her a box of
Kleenex. Her explanation for the Kleenex was that she'd used so much, she felt she should give back some of what was taken. As part of the discipleship dorm, this guest was experiencing mentorship and personal growth as a result of classes and counseling offered by the Mission. At a recent presentation, Gina, our discipleship dorm coordinator, then used a box of Kleenex, along with a Bible, as examples of the hope the Mission provides to guests. So many guests come to us with needs far greater than just food and shelter. Psalm 147: 3 says that God "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." These greater needs are why the Mission offers counseling, classes, and extended stay opportunities for guests who want to know more about the transformation and the peace found through the love of Christ. Gina then went on to describe the Mission as planting seeds in the lives of guests, and the reality is that those seeds are watered with tears--although they are no longer tears of sorrow but rather tears of joy at the possibilities ahead. Thank you, fellow rescuers, for helping us offer food, shelter, and--most importantly--hope to those in need!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Refuge for the Broken

I've been thinking a lot lately about broken people. Working at the Mission doesn't necessarily mean that I see more broken people, but it does mean that their wounds and scars are more open, more obvious. These are people who have come to a place where they can't hide any more. Often, we assume that the only "broken" people are the ones standing on the street corners, holding signs with slogans designed to evoke a generous response. But there are broken people everywhere: waiting in the line at the bus stop, serving your dinner at a restaurant, bagging your groceries, standing next to you while you wait to pick up your child from school. These broken people may be homeless...or they may not. The reality is that homeless people are just people. The thought that the only homeless people are the ones living on the fringes of society is an antiquated one.
 
There is a well known group discussing the "invisible people" who are too often purposely avoided in busy cities, the homeless and the "derelict," the addict or the mentally ill. But there is a large number of homeless in our community who are "invisible" because they walk among us. Many times, their "homelessness" is a symptom of their brokenness: broken relationships, broken health, or broken bodies. Still, they live their lives every day, experiencing many of the things we experience, facing the same challenges, yet with the increased obstacle of the search for a second chance, an opportunity for time and help to mend the breaks. Your gifts offer them that second chance. For all those who seek refuge at the Mission, whatever their story, whatever their background, thank you for enabling us to offer food, shelter, and hope to women, children, and men in need. Thank you for being a rescuer!

"The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Journey

I was recently talking with a fellow staff member for a staff highlight in an upcoming newsletter. During his time at the Mission, Steve has served in many roles, from security to maintenance. When asked what he loves about working at the Mission, he described the joy in seeing someone's "countenance change" when they come to the Mission, expecting to "find a zoo" and instead see that it's nice and clean. They learn that staff truly care about them. He remembers his own initial experience with the Mission, which was very different than mine. "I thought I'd really reached the bottom rung," he told me.

Steve and I arrived at the Mission around the same time. I came for part time work in December of 2004, a somewhat na├»ve 24-year old who needed income while I returned to school for a degree in motion picture direction. I had big dreams of directing family films in the growing Christian film market. Steve came through another door. I can imagine but can't begin to understand the life Steve knew before he came to the Mission. I was raised in a loving, two-parent home with Christian parents who were committed to each other and to the Lord. Steve...did not. He'd never experienced a loving home or a committed father. The only knowledge he had of Biblical things came from time spent at a boy's home and from a friend who had become transformed after giving his life to the Lord.

Yet God brought both of us to the Mission, and I think it's fair to say that both of us had lives that were changed. I say this because I believe it: no one has ever reached a place where there is nothing more they can learn from the Lord. Steve has a different view of the Mission and our great Rescuer because he comes from a different background and has a different angle on life, but the same Lord is Lord of all. The same Jesus Saves me that saved Steve. We both have the same example to follow, and with God, where you come from is not as important as where you are going. Your walk yesterday is viewed in the light of your walk today.

It's now been more than a decade since I came to the Mission. The big dreams have been replaced with better things, when viewed in the light of eternity. As it says in Proverbs, the Lord directs our steps. For me and Steve and thousands of others, that path has led to the Mission, where, if you allow Him the opportunity, He will change your life.

Friday, March 31, 2017

"Every good and perfect gift..."


Every month in the Mission newsletter, we like to take the opportunity to share with Mission supporters the story of one person they have helped through their gifts. Recently, I was able to interview some of the men at the men's shelter about their experience while at the Mission. Two of the three men with whom I spoke both quoted James 1:17: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." All three were so grateful for what the Mission, its supporters, and especially the Lord had done in their lives. They looked at what they had received and saw it not just as gifts but as "good" gifts.

In comparison, some might question what these men have to be grateful for. They lost everything and are building their lives all over again. One men spoke of the fact that he is not just rebuilding, but starting over because he wants to do things differently. He is grateful for a second chance at the hard work of making something good of his life. This is not an easy task or a quick one. And that is what he considers a good gift, not the fact of a meal and a bed, but a good meal and a safe shelter, where he can do what needs to be done in the process of making a new life for himself.

Thank you for being a part of that "good gift." For supporting so many on their journey from homelessness to independence.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

His Plan

When the City Rescue Mission purchased the former Maplewood Elementary School, the walls were still covered with the hand prints of the last classes to attend the school. Some of the students included sad messages at the thought of the building being closed. Those hand prints and messages are now at rest behind fresh drywall, as the Mission "rescued" the building for a new purpose.
 
For nearly 100 years, the building had served as a place of education and learning for children, including one special little boy who became the president of the Mission board and served for four decades in that capacity. When that door closed, a new one opened as the building was transformed from a school into a safe haven for women and mothers with children. Today, rooms where classes were once held now provide a safe night's rest.
 
Sometimes, in our own lives and the lives of those we serve, we see a door close. An opportunity has unexpectedly ended. However, God has a purpose and a plan for those who follow Him. We might not understand the "why" or see the "how," but He who has promised is faithful. Surely, the teachers and students wondered what would happen to the old building when the school district no longer needed it, but God knew what was coming. Since the building was re-opened for use by the Mission in 2010, thousands of women and children have found protection and peace within its walls. We, too, can rest in the knowledge that we are not forgotten; He is working for us and through us.
 
 "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13



Friday, December 23, 2016

One Chapter

Christmas is such a special time of year. I am always amazed at the amount of people who see Christmas as the perfect time to give, not only to those they love but also to those in need. At the Mission, we receive a large number of donations and calls for volunteering, and we are always appreciative of the overwhelming abundance of generosity.
 
But have you ever wondered why it is that Christmas seems such a special time of year? Why do hearts feel more generous? Why do we want to draw near to those we love? Why does even the most "grinchy" heart seem to grow when it looks beyond the tinsel and the wrapping paper?
 
For those of us who profess Christianity, Christmas is a special time simply because of what it represents: the greatest gift ever given to mankind. We celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. For us, the hurt and suffering cries of humanity were answered that night with the shrill cry of a baby. Immortality wrapped itself in mortality so that God could walk among His people. No longer a "voice from the heavens" or a message through mortal prophets, He stepped down from a heavenly throne and chose instead the humble manger in Bethlehem.
 
The beauty of His sacrifice is unquestionable. The purpose of His coming, unfathomable. He didn't come to restore the military might of King David or the material wealth of King Solomon. He didn't come to heal the sick, though He did that. He didn't come to feed the hungry, though He did that. He didn't come simply to conquer death, though He did that. He came to fulfill the greatest miracle ever conceived: "To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:79).
 
This was a miracle that only one could accomplish: Immanuel. God with us. And His birth is only one chapter in His Story.
 
My prayer for you this Christmas is that you experience Christ, as He is, the Savior, the fulfillment of the promise that sang through the hills of Bethlehem: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14)
 
Merry Christmas!
 
 

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Serve God with integrity..."

September and October seemed to disappear in an instant and November is already half over! The year has been one of unexpected challenges, I'm sure, for many of us. I thought this quote from Charles Spurgeon was especially helpful and wanted to share it as an encouragement to you. This is a reminder that we are not to be weighed down by the cares of the world...or by its so-called successes. As he says, "Serve God with integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will lie upon your conscience. Trusting God, you will not be guilty of self-contradiction. Be a [person] with living principles within; never bow to the varying customs of worldly wisdom. Walk in your path of integrity with steadfast steps, and show that you are invincibly strong in the strength which confidence in God alone can confer. Your heart will be fixed, trusting in the Lord. There is no more blessed way of living than a life of dependence upon a covenant-keeping God. We have no care for He cares for us; we have no trouble because we cast our burdens upon the Lord." I hope this is both an encouragement and a challenge to you, as we face a new year full of potential. As Spurgeon said so many years ago, walk with integrity.