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