Friday, September 1, 2017

Our Daily Bread

When I saw this beautiful bread waiting to be served to our guests, I was reminded strongly of the example Christ gave when His disciples asked Him how to pray. After giving honor to God and expressing a desire for His will to be done, Jesus includes, "Give us this day our daily bread." Be our sustenance. This request, set so firmly in the present, seems so simple, yet has so many purposes. First, it shows us the importance of living life one day at a time. As human beings we are so worried about securing our future. We like our plans because they give us a sense of control, a false sense of control, over our lives. In reality, the future is in God's hands. Second, be grateful for what you have...today. Don't covet or envy what you don't have or might not have tomorrow. Be grateful today. Third, go to God every day. You prayed yesterday for your needs. Pray today. Talk with Him today. Keep that relationship open and current. Don't relegate your relationship with your heavenly Father to a monthly "phone" call.

As I talk with our guests, I am often humbled by the strength of their faith. They know what it is like to live one day at a time, to rely fully on God to supply their daily bread. We call our meals "Mission Manna," because every bite is truly what God has provided that day, and He provides wonderful things...through our fellow rescuers. None of our guests need to go hungry, and our cooks are careful to include healthy ingredients as well as filling ones.

Thank you for the part you play in providing these quality meals and for giving our guests the opportunity to face the challenges ahead without worrying what they will eat or drink or what will they wear. Thank you for being a rescuer by helping us help others.

(Matthew 6:11)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

"Rejoice with those who rejoice..."

Yesterday, a shelter guest called asking for one of our casework coordinators. When I told her that she was out of the office for the rest of the day and asked if she'd like to speak with someone else, the guest replied that she had received good news on a new place and wanted to share it with her case manager. I congratulated her and assured her that she'd be in the next day. Hanging up the phone, I couldn't help but smile at the excitement in the guest's voice and her desire to share her good news with her case manager.

In Romans 12, we are reminded to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice." The care and concern of our staff is evident when guests can't wait to share their good news...and their sad news. The verse also reminds us to weep with those who weep, and there definitely have been times when guests ask staff to pray in situations where they are hurt, confused, or afraid. These are difficult times; living in a shelter and trying to re-build a life is not easy.

Through your generosity, our staff can offer guests more than just a meal. More than just shelter. We can provide Hope. You are a big part of making that possible. Rejoice with us, as we rejoice with this guest who will soon be leaving the Mission for her new home.

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