Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Flexibility and Focus

Looking over the 100 year history of the Mission, there is one thing we've "always done": preaching the gospel. The many other services we've incorporated over the years--feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the needy--are results of our mission rather than the whole of it. There are other services, too, that have come and gone, depending on ability and need. And we are grateful that we can stay true to our core purpose of preaching the gospel while being flexible enough to adjust through the years.

Recently, an article in the paper featured a local agency's backpack giveaway and mentioned that this is a service no longer provided by the Mission. What they failed to explain was that the number of men, women, and children we are sheltering has more than doubled in the past few months. The need for food has also increased. As a result, we've utilized that flexibility to adjust the "results" of our mission, while holding fast to our original purpose. Instead of providing a child a backpack, we are providing a roof over his head, food for him and his family, a safe place to go during the day, a shower and the things necessary for cleanliness and health, and a measure of stability in a world that can seem increasingly hostile to a child unsettled due to poverty and homelessness.

Last night, there were 6 more men staying at the men's shelter than we had beds. They slept on mattresses on the floor of the chapel. There were 106 single women, mothers, and children at the women and children's shelter. One hundred and seventy two people, not counting men in our Life Transformation Program, were under our care and received help not only for their physical needs but also for their spiritual ones. This is an amazing opportunity, as each person represents a life, a living soul, that is being impacted by those who choose to support the City Rescue Mission. People who choose to "be a rescuer."

Rather than focusing on all the "could haves" and "what ifs," let us take some time to be grateful for what we do have. Times are difficult, for those we shelter and for the Mission, as funds are stretched more than at any time in our past. Friends, fellow rescuers, do not grow weary in well doing! You are making a difference. Thank you for your compassion and for helping us help others!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

From Where I Sit...

This morning was our monthly staff meeting, and I felt somewhat "out of joint." Maybe it's working on the "centennial book" that has me feeling rather sentimental. Or the rather gray overcast that's been hovering over Michigan's capital city these past few days. Whatever the reason, I sat back in the corner, sunk into my folding chair, and smiled, somewhat benevolently, on the chatter going on around me. Sherri, shelter manager, was sharing information with Tiffany, our women and children's shelter director. Gina, administrative assistant, was chatting with Amanda, one of our intake coordinators. Dave, a coordinator at the men's shelter, was smiling and sharing a joke with Mike, our Biblical counselor. Tabby was talking animatedly to Abby (yes, Tabby to Abby). To the side, Mark, our executive director was speaking with Russ, our former director of volunteers, who's about to embark on a new ministry in Nicaragua. All around was talk and smiles, and the chairs in the classroom had filled well before the 8 a.m. meeting was scheduled to start.

It was our monthly staff meeting. A chance to share not only our concerns and prayer requests but also to reconnect as a group of people united for the single purpose of "rescuing" men, women, and children in need.

For just a few moments, I was out of time and place, as I looked at the gathering around me and compared it to 100 years ago, when the Mission was just born. Today, there were roughly forty pairs of hands clasped in prayer. That day so long ago, there were two. For some reason, I can picture them very clearly. Thomas was about forty seven, just recently saved, Emily only a year or so younger, had been praying for her his salvation for a decade. Everything was all so new. And they were not, by any means, wealthy people, with the goal of sharing their wealth with those in need. They were people who had very little, but what they did have, they gave. From such humble roots, the Mission has grown to serve hundreds of men, women, and children every day.

Sometimes, we'll get letters from donors, who lament that they have not more to give. Who apologize for not being able to give more. The very fact that they give anything at all, whether it be money, food, or prayers, is a blessing; it is all needed. Every gift, no matter how "humble" in the eyes of the giver, makes a difference, just as it did that first day nearly 100 years ago.

Thank you for your compassion and faithfulness. Thank you for being a rescuer.