Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sounds of Joy

The week before Christmas is never "business as usual." The administrative offices are located in our women and children's shelter, and for Christmas a type of "store" is set up in the classroom. This store is filled with donated toys and other gift items for the mothers who stay in our shelter to "shop" for gifts for their children. Tables with wrapping paper, tape, scissors, and gift bags (for those of us who are wrapping challenged) are set up in the hall leading to the offices. There is even a plate of cookies to de-stress the challenges with tape and tissue and corners that aren't straight.

Yesterday, the sound of sudden laughter echoed right down the hall, through the wall, and into the board room, where we were opening a meeting in prayer. We often pray for our guests, supporters, and fellow staff members, and the sound of the laughter seemed a perfect background for our requests.

Christmas, especially with recent events, can be a sad time for many people. They look at what the day is supposed to represent and they regret what they do not have or what they have lost. Our guests could feel the same; homeless and in need, they could let present circumstances rob the joy of this celebration of the greatest gift ever given to mankind (John 3:16). But there, in the midst of a shelter, was the music of spontaneous joy.

In her struggles with wrapping gifts for her children, the wrapping paper had rolled clear off the table. Frustration? No, laughter. And with the laughter, gratitude at the generosity of those whose compassion has allowed her to provide a bright Christmas for her children. Even in the midst of trials and struggles, they are surrounded by love.

Our prayer for you is that you overcome the frustrations we too often feel with the "hassles" and rush of "Christmasing." Instead, may you find joy, no matter your circumstances or personal trials, and celebrate Immanuel, God with us!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The First Thanksgiving

Contrary to popular belief, the first official Thanksgiving Day was celebrated on Thursday, November 26, 1863, after a proclamation by then-President Abraham Lincoln. While the country was torn apart by the Civil War, he agreed with Thanksgiving Day proponent Sarah Hale (probably most famous as the author of "Mary had a Little Lamb") that the establishment of a day to recognize our blessings and express our gratitude to the "Giver of all Good Gifts" would bring unity to the war-torn United States. Below is a section of his proclamation, and may it be our hope that during days of division or suffering or economic troubles, we can echo Lincoln's prayer for the "Almighty hand to heal the wounds" of our nation.

"...the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed."
Done at the city of Washington this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What is a blessing?

At last night's Bible study, someone brought up the idea of what a blessing looks like and how our view of a "blessing" can be very different than God's view. The conversation brought to mind a recent interview with a guest at our women and children's shelter, whose story will be featured in our December newsletter (yes, we're working on the December newsletter already :). As we approach the holiday created for the sole purpose of expressing thanks for the blessings we've been given, it's good to keep in mind that sometimes God's blessings are the prize at the end of a tortuous marathon, and sometimes God brings us outside our comfort zone to enable us to be a blessing to others.
Occasionally, our guests will ask a question that I can't answer. The kind of question you ask yourself when you're trying to think your way around a difficulty. This guest asked me if I would be willing to step into her shoes and lose everything if it meant gaining the blessing of having settled the question of faith. She has no choice now but to rely on God. Her own efforts have only led to homelessness and despair. But the prize: she has cleared away the "white noise" and now knows with a certainty where she stands with her Savior and how much her weakness is strength when it is resting in Him. She believes that God brought her to the Mission for her safety and spiritual growth. And her blessing.
Now, if you want to read the rest of her story, check your mailboxes (either in life or online) in December or sign up to receive our newsletter through our website at

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How much is your time worth?>
Time is one commodity we can never get back, but just how much is your time worth? For the Mission, five minutes of your time, from now until the end of December, is worth quite a lot. $10,000, to be precise. Right now, you can click on this link, sign in to facebook, and vote for the Mission to receive $10,000 as part of Summit Community Bank's giveaway in honor of their 10th anniversary. So, $10,000 is a lot of money, but if you think of value in more important terms... That's nearly 5,000 meals or shelter for about 500 people (broken down to regular statistics that's 200 men and 300 women and children). So, while you're shopping online or checking out a friend's status update, just ask yourself, what is five minutes worth to you?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lansing's "Best Kept Secret"

Early this morning, I was driving my car north on Larch and had the opportunity to pass the Mission on Michigan Avenue. The sky was a mix of colors, starting at almost gold where the rising sun was mixing with the lights of the city and slowing fading into a deep midnight of a cloudy night taking it's time rolling up for another day. I knew that as I drove over the Michigan Avenue intersection, I'd be able to glance to my right and see the light of the Mission "Jesus Saves" sign blending into the lights of a city rousing itself to face the morning. It was beautiful and reassuring to know that the Mission has been there, steady and unwavering, for 100 years. And that for about seven decades the cross has also been there, shining the light of hope into the dark places of our community.

As I was mulling over these feelings, I remembered the words of a guest with whom I'd recently had the opportunity to talk. She had come to the Mission after losing a great job and a wonderful home. Never having known poverty or want, before now, she'd also never known of the Mission. Seeing the surprise on my face, she admitted that she'd only lived in the area ten years.

Ten years! And never knew of the Mission until drastic circumstances had brought her within hours of living on the streets. The Mission truly is what our executive director recently described as "the best kept secret in Lansing. And it shouldn't be."

It should not be. For 100 years, we've been providing food, shelter, and hope to men, women, and children in Michigan's capital area. We're not funded by the state or federal government. We really do survive on faith and the gifts of those who do know about the Mission and who help us help others. Are you a Rescuer? If you are, don't "keep it under your hat." Not only can you encourage others to become involved but you can make someone aware of a place of refuge and safety. A place of shelter and rescue.

The guest to whom I was speaking? She was contemplating the final act of taking her own life when faced with the "inevitability" of sleeping on the streets. She was terrified of what would happen to her. She was ashamed of her "failure" and angry with God. The last minute encouragement of someone from her church, who told her about the Mission, changed the course of her life.

So spread the news: there is a place to find "rescue" in our community! The City Rescue Mission of Lansing.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coming Together

Thank you to all those who were able to attend our recent appreciation banquet. It was a blessing to be able to express our gratitude to our fellow rescuers and to be able to fellowship together. The food, provided by Colleen's Cuisine, was wonderful, and those guests who were able to give their testimonies did a great job. One of my personal highlights of the banquet was the Mission Choir. For the first time, we asked our program men to sing at the banquet. They were, understandably, very nervous at the prospect, but our staff was more than willing to stand up with them and sing praise to the Lord. The song itself, In Christ Alone (Townend and Getty), is very meaningful, but the choir represented more than just a singing group. Staff were able to come alongside our guests and give them support and encouragement; that's not what we do just on the night of the banquet but rather our opportunity in ministry every day of the week. The Mission is here to provide rescue, and that rescue would not be possible without staff giving support and encouragement to those we serve.

And staff would not be able to provide support and encouragement without our "fellow Rescuers" standing beside us, through prayer and donations, as we minister to our guests. It is your support that "helps us help others."

If you were unable to attend the banquet this year (we were filled to capacity this year), save the date of Thursday, October 10, 2013! We'll send out a reminder in the form of the newsletter and e-Outlook, as the date approaches! Visit the "follow" page of our website (, if you haven't signed up for those yet.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rescue = Investing in People

Wednesday, October 10, our monthly newsletter will mail. The cover story features one of our former guests who was enthralled with the goodness of God. Looking back over her life, she admitted to making many mistakes. Many of the difficulties she faced were a result of her own bad choices. However, God had brought her to Him, and she rejoiced that God had "invested" in her.

Those words accurately reflect the purpose of this ministry of "Rescue." We invest in people. Providing for their physical needs allows them to trust us with their spiritual needs. There are times when people disappoint us. They are not grateful or they squander our help and their opportunities. However, we know that no one is a "bad investment." That's the thing about "Rescue," it's not about what we deserve. Just like Grace, it is not earned. But it must be accepted. (Ephesians 2:8)

Our guest had come to accept her own responsibility and her own opportunity to look at life from another side. To overcome despair with hope. Thank you for caring for not only her physical condition but also her spiritual one. Thank you for being a Rescuer by helping us help others!

To sign up for the Mission Outlook, a monthly newsletter of the City Rescue Mission of Lansing, click here. To receive an email version, click here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Threads of Our Life

When I think of Mrs. Dollarhite, I may always bring to mind an image of an elderly woman with a coronet of braids and an almost eager, expectant look on her face. What little I knew of her past didn't matter because what brought her to the Mission was very real and very present in her life: her desires to help others and to serve her Savior. Touring the men's shelter one day, her face, again with that eager expression, lit up to see the dorm. Many of the beds had quilts that she recognized for the simple reason that she had made them. She enjoyed telling us why she chose the pieces and the patterns, and it was always obvious that she put thought and love into every stitch.

The Mission, with 100 years of service to Michigan's capital area, is blessed to have so many supporters, like Mrs. Dollarhite, who care passionately about the ministry of rescue. For some, there is a legacy going back to grandparents who served in the Mission. Occasionally, we are blessed to hear from a man whose life was transformed decades ago because someone was willing to give of their money and their time to make a difference in our community.

I am often amazed at how interconnected our lives really are. Would you be surprised to learn how many of your neighbors, your fellow employees, your friends, also support the Mission? We look over our mailing list and see people who must live only a few houses away, who support the Mission on a regular basis. Do they know the connection even exists?

And that connection goes beyond supporters to those we serve. Your cashier at the grocery store, one of your child's friends at school, the young man you passed on his way to class, these could be the faces of someone whom you have helped by supporting the ministry of rescue. Throughout the community, the Mission serves as a thread, connecting us all in a pattern of hope.

Mrs. Dollarhite understood hope because hope reaches fulfillment through love, and her quilts were an expression of the overwhelming love in her heart for those in need. In September 2012, her eager eyes finally opened on the sight of hope fulfilled, as she saw her Savior face to face. Though she is now present with the Lord, the warmth of her legacy lives on through the ministry of rescue. We are grateful for those whose gifts make it possible for us to meet physical and spiritual needs, as we are grateful for those who went before us, showing us the true meaning of love, one stitch at a time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Bless This City

CRM Centennial 3-6-5 Photo for 8/31/12
No matter how often we see God provide in miraculous ways, we are still humbled every day by the times He does "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Recently, a local church decided to focus a worship service on the needs here in our community. As part of this worship event at our capitol, they felt it necessary to include an opportunity for outreach. They asked what was most needed, and we replied that summer was a time of many needs but especially food. We serve annually over 100,000 meals a year, and August is actually one of our busiest months. They responded by providing about two tons of food items. We are amazed and very grateful to see the line of men, women, and children walking from the capitol to our buildings on Michigan Avenue. The food was very welcome and will definitely make a difference, as we provided nearly 10,000 meals in August and are, so far in September, averaging more dinners than we did in August. Praise God for His supply, and thank you for being His hands, to provide rescue to those in need!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Changes to the "Face" of Homelessness

Staff stop for a quick meeting.
When I was first employed by the Mission in December of 2004, one of my fellow employees told me that the winter months were our "busy" months and summer was a slow time. In 2004, we had not yet expanded our women and children's shelter and the economy was doing well. However, over the past few years, a trend has developed where our services remain steady throughout the year and actually peak during the extreme cold and again in the late summer months. (The women and children's shelter especially sees increases in July and August.) For example, our public dining room served more lunches in July than any previous month and more lunches in August than in July. Unfortunately, while our actual services have increased and changed in the past seven years, the image of homelessness has not. Most people would assume that homelessness increases during the cold weather because the image of homelessness is a chronically homeless, aging, alcoholic male. Instead, the majority of those we shelter are women and children. And many of the men who stay at our shelter do not fit the stereotype either. The result of this change in the face of homelessness is that the Mission never really experiences a "slow time." Our resources are always being expended because there are always needs to meet. That is why we are so grateful for you, our fellow rescuers. So far this year, nearly 10,000 hours have been "given" by volunteers, and your monetary gifts help keep the lights on and the doors open to the nearly 150 women, children, and men we shelter every night. Your prayers, too, are so important in encouraging staff to continue to serve. Thank you for being what you are, compassionate rescuers! Thank you for helping us help others!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Path to Transformation

This year, we at the City Rescue Mission were excited at the opportunity to extend our Life Transformation Program. Through the years, the Mission has seen many transformations, not just of program students, but also in how the program itself operates. The completion of our Maplewood Center allowed us to offer this one year program to women. Women seeking to overcome their addictions can meet with the program manager and begin their first steps on the path to Life Transformation. It is certainly a joy to watch these women grow, and our prayers are with them as they begin to rebuild their lives and, hopefully, their broken relationships. We also ask you to pray for us, as we seek to live a Godly example and to present the truth to them in a way that is clear and practical for their lives once they graduate from the program.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Prayers for Home

Mark, our executive director, has the opportunity of volunteering in children's chapel at our women and children's shelter. Last night, the group of four-to-eight-year-olds gathered together to pray, and the leaders asked if there were any prayer requests. The majority of the kids assembled offered the same, simple request, that their moms would get a home. What a blessing to be able to offer these moms and kids a place of safety and shelter. Please continue to pray that these families find a permanent home that would also be an environment where Truth and Love live.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


July was a busy month, with the Mission serving more meals than any other month this year. Already, August looks to be even busier, and our food supplies are beginning to feel the summer pinch. As reported in our recent newsletter, we are especially in need of meat. Below is an email sent out from our director of operations, which shows the Lord's provision through the compassion of our fellow Rescuers:

I have to share with you an experience we had here on Michigan Ave with our kitchen staff today. Two of the kitchen staff were informing me that we were low on meat so I asked them if we had enough to get us through this week because we have two steers coming to us in a few weeks that were purchased at the fair a couple weeks ago. They said yes we did have enough, if we really stretched things out we could get by. I then said to them that we need to be in prayer for meat. That conversation was after lunch around 2pm today. After I got finished with that conversation the front door bell rang so I went to answer it. It was a man donating a bag of chicken tenders, so I gave it to the cook and said well… it’s a start. We both kind of chuckled and he put it in the refrigerator. Later this afternoon, I was putting some things away that I had just picked up when the back door bell rang. One of the cooks was with me and answered the door to find a mom and two or three kids handing him some meat. He got the cart and said that they have more so I helped him bring it in. I didn’t really get a chance to talk to them, but the mom did say that they received our newsletter and saw where we were in need of meat. We received 240 hamburger patties, 6 bags of chicken tenders, and about 8-10 bags of meat balls. We were so thrilled that we prayed to thank God for answering our prayers. I was coming back from a pick up just earlier praying that God would give us wisdom and discernment on how to use the meat we had. Not more than an hour later this meat comes in. What a mighty God we serve. I just had to share this with everyone because we sometimes get so busy that some things go unnoticed...

Thank you, fellow Rescuers, for your faithfulness in helping us provide for the physical and spiritual needs of men, women, and children in Michigan's capital area. And thank you for your prayers for wisdom and continued provision as August usually is one of the busiest months for the Mission.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Mission: Play"

CRM Centennial 3-6-5 Photo, 8.3.12
Last year, South Lansing Kiwanis took on the "Mission: Play" project to "promote leadership through active youth" by building a new playground for our women and children's shelter. Project Chairperson, Alfreda Schmidt, undertook raising $24,000 for this project. She presented her goal to her local Lake Trust Credit Union, as she knew of the very active role they play in our community. Lake Trust was excited at the opportunity and offered to match funds by dedicating a total of $12,000 for the project. In less than a year, the matching funds were raised and a groundbreaking event took place on July 11, followed by the first build day on the 14th. We are so grateful to Lake Trust, South Lansing Kiwanis, and the many who gave toward this project. Lansing Kiwanis also partnered with this project by providing safety fencing around the property and the play area itself. The project will make a difference in the lives of hundreds of homeless children in our community!

Now for the "rest" of the story: The photo chosen to represent our centennial 3-6-5 project for this week features our very own Ginasaurus. Our staff was almost as excited about the new playground as the children who stay with us. When Jim, director of volunteers and project coordinator, informed us that a "dinosaur" was part of the playground, we all thought of our dinosaur aficionado, our very own Gina. And the Ginasaurus was born :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rains from Heaven

I love rain. The smell in the air. The sound of a good rain hitting the roof and windows. However, when you work for a homeless shelter, you begin to look at weather in a different way. While I love rain and don't mind the occasional drenching, to be in the elements because I had to be, because I had nowhere to find shelter, that would probably cause me to look at rain in a rather negative way. I guess I can say that I have looked at rain "from both sides." And now I can look at the rain and be very grateful. First, because with this heat and the drought in which Michigan seems caught, everyone is grateful for these signs of the abundance from heaven. Second, I am thankful that, because of gifts from our fellow Rescuers, we can offer shelter to men, women, and children who are homeless and have nowhere else to go.

For some time, "shelter" has also been seen in a negative way. However, the word as it is defined refers to a haven. A place of refuge and comfort. That is what we have the opportunity to provide for our guests. A haven. A place of refuge and comfort. Where they are given more than a temporary relief from their physical needs. They are given a sense of hope, a realization that they are loved. Not a shallow, human type of love, but the kind of love that would lay down life itself for their eternal well being. The love found in John 3:16. Thank you for your gifts to those in need. And thank you for allowing us to let people see "shelter" from both sides.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Little Boy Snoozes

Another great photo for the 3-6-5 project! This week, we featured one of our very young guests as he took a little nap in the cafeteria. Most people may not realize that the majority of homeless children are under the age of six. Already this year, support from our fellow Rescuers has helped the Mission provide over 5,000 nights of shelter to children like this little boy. Thank you for helping us help others! Your gifts truly do make a difference in our community.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


The photo chosen to represent the Mission's Centennial 3-6-5 project tells its own story of triumph. Recently, we had the opportunity to witness a graduation celebration from our Life Transformation Program. The graduate had completed the required one year of intensive Bible study, classes, and counseling. While a year of sobriety is quite a milestone, the graduation ceremony is really only that, a milestone. A marker along the path we are all taking as we journey to our final destination. The gifts of those who support the Mission offered this man a means of "Rescue" from the path of addiction he had traveled for so long. However, there is still a long road ahead of him. As the Mission takes a smaller, supportive role, the responsibility belongs to the graduate, as to whether he'll stay on this new path or return to the old, destructive path. We appreciate what you have done to help us help this graduate and ask that you continue to pray for him as he seeks to rebuild his life on a new foundation.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Chalk Truth: Jesus Saves

Paul admonishes Christians to conduct themselves with simplicity and godly sincerity (2 Corinthians 1:12). For 100 years, the Mission has sought to do just that, present a simple message, pure and unadulterated by enigmatic words and skillfully turned phrases. The photo chosen to represent the Mission this week as our 3-6-5 project proclaims that simple message, the words that fill the sign that has lit the night above the Mission for seven of the ten decades of the Mission's existence.
We specialize in hope, beyond mere food and shelter, and in a world that can be, at times, hostile to the message that "Jesus Saves," we pray for the strength and the ability to continue preaching that simple message, without artifice or pretense. After all, that is the message of Rescue. As a reporter once said, more than forty years ago:
..."[Homelessness] is a life that degrades. That robs a man of his dignity, his energy, and his self confidence, and very often leads to a tragic end. This does not have to be the case, however, and the proof of that is the building behind me and what goes on inside it."
Thank you for enabling us to continue meeting physical and spiritual needs, as we seek to reach out to our guests with "Words of Life."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mission Manna

Once again, the City Rescue Mission of Lansing had the opportunity to participate in the BWL Annual Chili Cook-off. Since 2008, the Mission has been giving people a chance to sample "Mission Manna" at the cook-off.  The photo chosen to represent the Mission as 3-6-5 photo of the week was of one of cooks, Candy, preparing a batch of Mission Manna for the cook-off. Candy's chili was featured in the corporate category, and Abby, our kitchen manager, prepared meatless chili. Both chilis received awards, and, best of all, we were able to spread awareness of the Mission and the quality of work we are doing among homeless and low income men, women, and children in Michigan's capital area.
One of the difficult challenges of Mission work is that of public awareness: informing the public of the role we play and breaking the stereotype of what Missions and their guests are like. Not only does the cook-off give us the opportunity to meet this challenge, it also allows us to participate in a community event. We are a very active part of the community and feel blessed to be able to serve, here, in the heart of our great state.
Thank you, fellow rescuers, for helping us help others! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Power of Joy

CRM Centennial 3-6-5 Photo 6-7-12
Today, there is a lot of emphasis on happiness. "Do what makes you happy." I remember being taught as a child that there was a great difference between happiness and joy. We were taught that happiness was fleeting and rooted in temporary circumstances, while joy is deeper and lasts because it is based on something else deeper and more lasting than temporary circumstances.
The children at our shelter, logically, have very little to give them happiness. But it is a blessing to see how often they have joy. That joy comes because their lives, in spite of often being empty of material things, are full of love. Not just the love of family but also of the staff and volunteers. We are here to provide more than physical needs but to show the love that God has for each of them.
The 3-6-5 photo for this week is of a little boy who is undoubtedly happy but who is also experiencing a moment of joy, because of the compassion of others. He's not been given a "priceless" possession for him to keep but rather a moment of far greater value, a memory that he can hold onto. A memory of a time when people came together to show him that he, too, was of great value. Cared for and protected. Sheltered.
That's what we do. That's what we can provide every day because of our fellow rescuers, who give so faithfully to help us help others.
Thank you, for the opportunities you provide for us to give the gift of joy. Thank you for being a rescuer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"Mission: Play" 5K

CRM Centennial 3-6-5 Photo 6.1.2012
Late summer of 2011, the South Lansing Kiwanis met with CRM staff about the possibility of building a new play area at our women and children's shelter. As our playground equipment is outdated and difficult to find replacement parts, the Kiwanis (whose main focus is children) wanted to provide a new, safe place for our young guests. This play area would be divided into two, age-specific playgrounds. The project also included new safety fencing separating the play area from the parking area and providing decorative fencing facing Maplewood Avenue. The South Lansing Kiwanis goal to purchase/build the play area was $24,000. In less than a year, these diligent Kiwanians raised over $28,000, especially thanks to Lake Trust, who provided a matching fund of up to $12,000. Some of that money was raised through a "Mission: Play" 5k, undertaken by one of the South Lansing Kiwanis members. A photo of one of our staff participating in this event was chosen to be our 3-6-5 photo for the week.
Lansing Kiwanis came together to cover costs and to build the needed fencing. We hope to have the new playground in use by the end of July. Please keep this project in your prayers. Having provided shelter for over 330 children last year, we are excited to have a safe place for them to play and to enjoy the sunshine.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

They Match

The 3-6-5 Photo for this week is a photo of Shelley, who works in the women and children's shelter, and a young guest who was excited because her pink shirt matched Shelley's Mission employee uniform. I love this photo for the tenderness and affection it shows. Shelley, as a mother, can treat these children as a caregiver while still showing the structure that children desperately need. In the case of this young girl, and too many children in our shelter, there is only her mother to give her the guidance and care she needs. This can be very difficult for anyone, when they are solely responsible for such an important task as raising a child. We are grateful for the opportunity we have, while our guests stay with us, to give them added support and encouragement from women who have raised children of their own. This support and encouragement is just one more aspect of the shelter we are able to provide because you help us help others!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pretty as a Princess

The story behind this picture, recently chosen as the Mission's 3-6-5 photo for the week, is of a birthday. Three hundred and thirty nine kids called the Mission "home" in 2011. Meaning that when that last school bell rang those same kids packed up their backpacks with books and homework and headed for the Mission.

While that image can be colored by despair, we try instead to capture that spark of real life that exists and continues regardless of the location. There is an undoubted and unarguable sadness at the thought of a homeless child. But at the Mission, there is also joy. Some of the greatest sources of that joy are the children who stay here.

In this case, the young girl looks like every other young girl celebrating her special day. She's wearing princess jewelry and coming up with her own accessories (whiskers out of pipe cleaners). Her world is not what we might consider "the normal one," but she can still have excitement and joy, because your gifts enable us to provide safety and security for all who find shelter at the Mission. Thank you for being a rescuer and for helping us help others!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Emily's Prayer

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about prayer and, to me, Emily Dolton (whose photo was chosen to represent the Mission for our 3-6-5 project this week) is a great representative for prayer. Emily Dolton founded the Mission with her husband over 100 years ago. She and her husband Thomas, like most Mission founders, were reaching a hand of help to familiar faces. Emily was raised in the knowledge of Christian things but, as an adult, made self serving choices. One of those choices was to marry a man who hated the restrictions of Christianity and loved "laughter" and "fun," the same as she did. He also loved alcohol. When their children were born, Emily began to take a look at her life and realized that her priorities had changed. She returned to her Christian heritage and discovered a personal relationship with her Savior. Thomas' feelings on her decision were negative. Her response was to pray. For ten years, she prayed for her husband. Being a firm believer that God always answers prayer (either yes, no, or not yet), I can see why Emily continued steadfast in prayer, never giving up on her faith or her husband. Now knowing the rest of the story, we know that Thomas did come to accept that "Jesus Saves," and his newfound passion for that truth led to the founding of City Rescue Mission of Lansing. For the rest of his life, Thomas would faithfully serve the Lord in this ministry to "rescue" the lost and hopeless. And Emily served at his side until he passed away in 1942. She continued to minister at the Mission until her own health declined, but she was able, daily, to witness the power of prayer, not only in her life but in the lives of those impacted by the Mission. Her prayers made a difference to her husband and family, and they continue to make a difference today, to every man, woman, and child who comes to the Mission and receives rescue. Thank you for helping us continue the work begun by the Doltons over a century ago. Thank you for being a rescuer and helping us help others!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Twila at Work

This week, the 3-6-5 photo chosen to represent the Mission as our profile picture was "Twila at Work." Twila is the daughter of our director of maintenance. She is a living example of the transformation that happens when God uses the work of the Mission to change the hearts of those who come through its doors.  Twila's father was saved at the Mission, graduated the program, and met his wife at the Mission. We have the opportunity to see her grow and enjoy seeing her shadow her dad.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The 3-6-5 Photo chosen to represent the Mission this week is one I call "Rosie and the Sun." I actually love this picture, taken by a very talented staff member. The Mission focuses on three key areas: food, shelter, and hope. However, the biggest part of the three is Hope. For 100 years, our main purpose has been sharing the gospel. Because this is our goal, we do everything to the best of our ability, from cooking to cleaning, because everything we do represents Christ. Sometimes, we face challenges or discouragement, but moments like the one shown here help remind us of the joy found in serving Christ. This little girl doesn't understand the concept of homelessness; had her family not found shelter at the Mission, her experience could be very different. But they did find shelter at the Mission, and we had the joy and opportunity of showing them love, not because we are so good or even because they are. But because God is. See her smile and realize that she is happy and safe because your compassion helps us help others. Thank you for being a rescuer and for making a difference in the lives of those in need.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Haven of Rest

The photo chosen for our Centennial 3-6-5 Project this week is an image of a young girl wrapped in a blanket and dozing in one of the child care rooms in our women and children's shelter. What a blessing it is to be able to provide shelter and protection to these young lives. Last month, 47 children, like this young girl, were able to find that same comfort at the City Rescue Mission of Lansing. This is only possible because of your gifts to the Mission and your prayers on behalf of our ministry. Please keep this girl and her family in your prayers, as her mother seeks stable employment and they seek permanent housing.

I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah Psalm 61:4

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Matthew 1:41

Working for a non-profit, you often use and hear the word "compassion." However, on this Good Friday, I wondered what would happen if I prayed, "Lord, today, for one day, open my eyes and allow me to see others as Christ saw them."

I truly believe that we, as humans beings, are incapable of fully seeing with the eyes of Christ. Not only because our pride too often gets in the way but also because the burden of that compassion would be unbearable.

When Christ looked out over the multitudes of those gathered to hear Him speak, He didn't just see their motives and their attitudes, the secrets of their hearts. He saw beyond what they were to what they had been. To what they could and should have been. He saw them as children, full of potential and possibilities. He saw the gifts they had been given. And how those gifts had been squandered. He saw the paths they had chosen. And how every step had only taken them further beyond even the hope of rescue.

The scars of sin...what ugly marks they must leave on the human soul. And those are the scars that Christ took upon Himself, for us, on the darkest day in human history.

Praise God that in the moment when the full ugliness of man's heart was revealed to His creator, Christ did not turn away. He spread His arms in surrender and bore the weight of that ugliness and the consequences of our sin on the cross. He dragged that darkness into the grave and left it there when He rose again.

So that we could know rescue. Because Jesus Saves. Only Jesus Saves.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:8-13

Friday, March 30, 2012

Children's Chapel

As we continue with our centennial 3-6-5 project, the photo chosen to represent the Mission as our facebook profile pic is "Children's Chapel." Last year, the Mission provided shelter to 339 children. A large part of that "shelter" is the opportunity to share the word of God with them and to show them the love of Christ. This would not be possible without your gifts to the ministry of rescue. As we pass the one year anniversary of the completion of our women's and children shelter, we look forward to the opportunity of seeing and serving more children in need. Thank you for enabling us to do so. Thank you for being a rescuer and for helping us help others!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pay to Stay

There is something of a debate going on regarding some recent decisions at some shelters around the country to ask guests to "pay to stay." While there are pros and cons, what was more sad was the attitudes revealed by those who chose to "comment" on the article. I was especially saddened by the statements from some who claimed to work or to have worked for shelters/service agencies.

Anyone who does read the comments on any internet article recognizes that the anonymity of the internet and the fact that you don't personally know those with whom you are arguing leads to extremely negative comments that the filter of personal knowledge or direct discussion would normally "block out." However, Christ said, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34). And the majority of the "mouths" who chose to speak on this particular topic were surprisingly venemous in regards to those who are homeless.

Rather than enter into the argument of "to pay or not to pay," I'd like to offer a defense for Missions and a re-statement of our purpose. Missions by their very nature are independent; however, they were founded to further the message of the gospel to men and women who were lost in sin. The cast-offs, the unwanted.

Our founder, Thomas Dolton, was an alcoholic who was violently opposed to Christianity until his own conversion. His goal in starting a Mission was to reach out to men who were as he had once been. While the face of homelessness is changing (with unemployment, poor financial decisions, domestic abuse, divorce, etc. becoming contributing factors for homelessness), the Mission should continue to reach a hand of rescue to the unloved and unlovable. We have seen men and women that the world would consider hopeless. They would make their comments and use them as examples of the homeless stereotype that is so despised. Some of those same men and women have "used the system" for years before the message of Christ, preached faithfully by Missions, began to produce fruit in their lives. God forbid that we give up on these men and women. That we stop looking at them with the eyes of Christ (as sheep having no shepherd) and being to look at them with the eyes of the world (worthless losers who don't deserve compassion).

I would never say that Mission work is easy. Or that working year-in and year-out with such men and women doesn't require us to be in constant prayer for God's strength and compassion. But I would reiterate the words of Paul, "do not grow weary in doing good" (2 Thessalonians 3:13). The world is hungry for the unconditional love that can only be found through the grace of God. If Missions stop shining the light and spreading the truth that "Jesus Saves" even the ones who deserve it the least, then how will they hear? After all, the true "mission" of a Mission is not to provide a meal or a bed but to present the Good News that God's grace is sufficient for (and needed by) everyone.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! Romans 10:13-15

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter Comes Early

The photo chosen for this week's 3-6-5 was of Tiffany (director of women and children's ministries) and Sherri (women and children's shelter manager) receiving a donation of Easter baskets for the children at our women and children's shelter. This same church also provided Christmas gifts for our guests. We are so grateful to the many in our community who think of others and look for ways not only to meet needs but also to show compassion.

What a great time of year to express compassion! Although we called this photo "Easter Comes Early," the truth is that the Mission has the opportunity to express the message of Easter all year long. This is possible because of your gifts. Thank you for being a rescuer and for helping us help others!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All Good Things...

Last week's 3-6-5 photo choice was one a kitchen staff member took of our volunteers having their own celebration of Oreo's 100th anniversary! It was exciting (especially to those of us with a partiality for the sandwich cookie) to realize how many great things happened around the same time. Not the least of which is, of course, the Mission :) We are so excited at reaching the milestone of 100 years of service to Michigan's capital area and the opportunity to bring eternal joy to the lives of men, women, and children in need.

It's great, too, to be able to fellowship with our fellow rescuers and not only to give joy but also to live it, while we serve!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The View from the Top

Most of us, at this point, would prefer to forget that just days ago there was snow on the ground. However, the photo chosen to represent the Mission as the profile pic of our page on facebook shows the snowy ground as seen from above: the roof of our Maplewood Center. This view helps me look at once in the past, present, and future. Seeing Maplewood is a reminder that a year ago, the building was still under renovation. While the east wing was occupied, the west wing (and largest portion of the project) still had to be completed. The quietness is reflective of that waiting period, where we had to "quiet" our spirits, our anxieties and eagerness, and rest in God's timing for the project. Now, in the present, it's difficult to remember those frustrations as we deal with today's challenges. The view also looks toward the future in that I can see the projects yet to be completed. A great example is the playground. Contemporary to the building's service as a school, the play area is in need of its own renovations. With the help of our local Kiwanis groups and Lake Trust Credit Union, we hope our "Mission: Play" project will be underway within the next few months. So many opportunities to continue to serve our guests! Because of your support of our efforts on behalf of men, women, and children in Michigan's capital area.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wash Me Whiter than Snow

The City Rescue Mission has been "capturing" images to represent the Mission as we celebrate our 100th year of service to Michigan's capital area. This week, the photo chosen was of the recent (and rare this winter) snowstorm that blanketed our community in a layer of white. In Psalm 51, David asks God to wash him "whiter than snow." For many of us, not just our guests, we have things in our past that haunt us. Choices or circumstances we would love to forever purge from our memories and our lives. It's more than just the consequences; there is the guilt that covers us in darkness and despair. However, Psalm 103 also encourages us that "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." Once we put our trust in Him.

That is the message we have proclaimed for our 100 years of existence, the message that shines from the cross that symbolizes the Mission, the message of "rescue" and forgiveness. "Hope lives and rescue can be found, within sight of the cross."

Friday, February 24, 2012

All Creatures Great and Small

This week, our 3-6-5 photo highlights the fearlessness of a little boy named Elijah as he confronted Azan, a rather large dog. Don't get me wrong, Azan really is a walking teddy bear. Our executive director brings his (can I say gigantic?) chocolate labradoodle to the shelter, and most people eventually give his head a pat. And Azan loves the attention. He loves to be loved. However, in many cases he can look our young guests in the eyes, and his teeth, yeah, they're intimidating. But Elijah was fascinated by this "creature" that walked into his world on four paws and settled onto the floor like a rug. He actually thought Azan might be a rug and tried laying on him a few times. Then he wondered what was hiding inside the giant toy to make it move, but gazing inside Azan's mouth didn't reveal anything more than a long red tongue.

The truth was that Elijah's fearlessness came from a state of ignorance. He didn't know that big things, like Azan, are not always as nice and forbearing as Azan happens to be. Elijah trusted that he was safe and would be protected. It's fitting that his name means "My God is the Lord" and comes from the fearless (most times) prophet Elijah in the Old Testament. Elijah doesn't yet realize that there is such a thing as homelessness and shelters or poverty and want. He trusts. A simple, fearless faith that we should all emulate.

Praise the Lord, Elijah and his mom have a home of their own now. And we pray that it will be a house blessed by faith in "the Lord is my God" and fearlessness that God will always protect them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Life Transformation

The recent expansion at our women and children's shelter (coming up on a year!) allowed us the opportunity to provide a Life Transformation Program for Women. We are excited at this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women, and we have been blessed with our first "applicant." Gina, our women's program manager, is very dedicated to this new responsibility, and her excitement and enthusiasm for the ministry is contagious. Please keep both staff and our guests in your thoughts and prayer. And please continue to pray that those in need of the Mission and the truth we represent will have the courage and determination to take that first step on a journey toward life transformation!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Feeding the Multitudes

Over the past few months, the Mission has been working on our Centennial 3-6-5 project. The idea for a 3-6-5 project did not originate with us, but we are grateful to be able to use this idea as a tool to show our supporters (fellow Rescuers) the work the Mission does on a regular basis. Each week, seven photos are chosen to represent that week in the "life" of the Mission during its 100th year of service. Staff and those who visit the Mission's page on facebook are able to "like" and comment about the photos of the week. The photo with the most comments is chosen to represent the Mission as the profile pic of our page on facebook.

This past week, the photos have all been of drawings done by some of the children who stay at our women and children's shelter. Too many people are unaware that the Mission actually provides shelter to men, women, and children. And the reality is that we are currently providing shelter to more women and children than men. (Last month, for example, we had 153 different women and children stay at our shelter.

The theme of these photos included Jesus walking on the water, self portraits by the children, and the feeding of the 5,000. Our executive director works with the children every Wednesday evening and had the opportunity to help teach them this story about God's provision.

One of the great things about this story, and the photo that was chosen, is how it represents what the Mission does every day. For 100 years, we have existed solely on the faith that God will provide. Last year, we served 118,000 meals, and we could only do that because people were moved with compassion and donated funds and food. These "Rescuers" were an answer to prayer, our prayers and those of our guests.

Thank you for helping us help others. Thank you for being a Rescuer!