Sunday, June 13, 2010

All in a day's...not working...

Saturday was a very interesting day. Interesting in that I headed out into the gray, grisly morning with a carefully prepared list of "errands" to run. None of those errands involved work, well, one or two of them did, but most of them were personal errands.

First stop was my bank, where I had questions about my account. I was told to wait for the lady in the office, and while speaking with her, the conversation turned to my place of employment, the City Rescue Mission. "You work with Mark!" The lady said, and I wondered how she knew Mark. From television. I admit, I took the opportunity to brag on my boss (how often can a person do that?) and was pleased at the realization that people are beginning to recognize, not just Mark, but also the Mission.

The City Rescue Mission has existed in Lansing since 1911; our buildings on Michigan Avenue have housed our ministry since 1948. Our Jesus Saves Cross, the sign that hangs over the chapel building and is the focal point of our logo, has lit the night sky for over six decades, long before Mark was even born. But when I began working for the Mission in 2004, there was a surprising number of people who didn't know the Mission existed or why it existed.

It is so gratifying to reclaim a sense of awareness in our community, not just so supporters know that we need their help but also so that those in need know that we are here to help them. Rather a tongue twister, but it all comes down to "helping us help others." For nearly 100 years, the Mission has had the opportunity to meet physical and spiritual needs of men, women, and children. That legacy would never have been possible without the compassion and generosity of our community.

It may be rather startling when your boss' name comes up in conversation with a random stranger, especially on your day off, but it's worth it if the message connected with his name is about the Mission, the needs of those we serve, and the truth behind the words over our door: Jesus Saves.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What a Privilege

At a recent staff meeting in the chapel at the Maplewood Center, our executive director covered a passage from Paul's letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:3-16). Timothy, a protege of the Apostle Paul, was getting encouragement from his mentor on the importance of contentment in his daily life, especially as he served as a minister to the needs, physical and spiritual, of those around him. These words give us wisdom as we daily strive to follow the example left by men like Paul and Timothy.

From time to time, someone will ask if we "work" for the Mission or are we volunteers. While we do utilize several volunteers (and are extremely grateful for their faithfulness and support), the Mission does need a core group of dedicated staff members. The privilege is the opportunity to "work" for the Mission. Because we do not "work" for the "Mission" so much as work for God's glory and for the help, health, and transformation of our guests. It's a strange and wonderful feeling to "open your envelope" and see that you are getting paid to help people.

It is an awesome responsibility, as well, because while we "work" for our guests, we also "work" for our supporters. As a faith ministry, every dollar that comes to cover operational expenses (utility bills, building maintenance, staffing needs) comes from the compassionate gifts of people desiring to help us help others. Last year, we provided over 90,000 meals and 30,700 nights of shelter to men, women, and children in Michigan's capital area. Yet every meal and every bed was available solely because of a feeling of compassion and an act of generosity by you.

Thank you so much for the privilege of allowing us to serve as your hands, meeting needs, telling the good news, and reaching out to the lost. Thank you for helping us help others!