Monday, December 23, 2013

A Lesson in Faith

One of the joys of being a part of the Mission is the opportunity to pray with and for our guests. The Mission has existed for 102 years on the premise of faith. God has always provided to meet needs, and guests recognize that everything, from the meal they eat to the warm bed at night, is a gift from the "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17). We encourage prayer, as an avenue to express gratitude and to ask for God's continued provision.

Recently, a staff member shared about a young girl who always asked prayer for one of the little boys also staying in the shelter. This little boy was autistic and his condition made him non-verbal. Many children could have been afraid of him because he was different and his loud expressions, that passed for speech, seemed intimidating. Her prayer was that this little boy would one day talk.
It was a humbling reminder of the need for faith as evidenced by this young girl. We, in our "knowledge" of his condition and obstacles, might consider this an impossibility. We might not even presume to ask for something that would require a miracle. But she had faith that God is able to do, as He said, "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20).
Our prayer for you, this Christmas, is that you experience faith like this young girl. That in the midst of the busyness and the "obligations," you get a sense of the wondrous miracle that is Christmas. God, in His love, sent His only begotten Son, as the great Redeemer and Rescuer of mankind. A gift born to set people free. And you can go to Him with your troubles and your fears. Your needs and your failures.
The little boy in this story has since left the shelter, with his mother. The staff were excited to see the improvement made during his time at the Mission. God alone knows the future of this little child, as He knows the future of all the children, and men and women, who come to the Mission. We can have faith in His love and care for them.
Thank you for your gifts to the Mission. You enable us to provide food, shelter, and hope in our community. Thank you for being a Rescuer by helping us help others.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All in a Day of Rescue!

One of our staff members once compared working at the Mission to experiencing Christmas every day. The truth is that we never know, when the doorbell rings, what blessings await us. Either gifts coming in to help us help others, or people in need whom we can help. The following list was made by one of the men who work at our men's shelter. Below is his description of a few highlights from his day.
How God Uses His People to Provide for His Children
Saturday, December 7, 2013
  • Panera provided 30 sandwiches, 3 specialty salads, pickles, and bread. It was an order that wasn't picked up. This was eaten that day for lunch.
  • A man gave 2 turkeys, flour, sugar, and some canned goods. His father was an alcoholic, came to the Mission program. The family was grateful for the City Rescue Mission.
  • A husband and wife gave blankets and bests in remembrance of their son who died.
  • A man brought 10 new hooded sweatshirts.When he purchased these, he told them what he was going to do with them. They gave him "No Charge" for 5 of the shirts. He also gave a gift of $100 and said he would be back on Monday with more shirts.
  • A mother dropped off 4 bags of coats and gloves, a lot of them new. Her daughter put out signs at Central Michigan University about collecting coats to be given to the Mission.
  • A lady gave a large bag of new stuffed animals, plus 2 bags with food and toiletries.
Every one of these people gave with joy and very large smiles.
God is Good!
In addition to these gifts coming in, we were able to provide food, shelter, and hope to about 150 women, children, and men that night. Indeed, God is good, and we are truly blessed by our great community of fellow Rescuers!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Don't Forget Those Who Have No "Home for the Holidays."

Christmas Gift for City Rescue Mission of Lansing Men's ShelterRecently, we received a call from one of our Fellow Rescuers. Karen had participated with a church drive last year to provide Christmas gifts for the men who stay in our shelter. Although the church had chosen another focus for 2013, Karen still wanted to provide some gifts for those in need. We were excited by her request because the men at the Mission are usually overlooked at Christmas. Although Karen cannot provide gifts for all 70 men who will call the Mission "home" this holiday season, she wondered if others would be willing to join her efforts to make a difference in the lives of those who are truly needy. We hope you will consider helping her help others. While the Mission meets immediate needs for food and shelter, your gift would help remind them of the "hope" we also offer. At Christmas time, we celebrate the greatest gift ever given to mankind, God himself wrapped in a small baby, in a humble stable, in a small town. The men who come to us have learned humility the hard way. Your compassion can provide a bright memory this Christmas.
Below is a list of items to place in each Christmas bag. Our goal is to make every bag standard, as these are all items the men can use. Feel free to fill the bags and bring them right to the Mission (607 E. Michigan Avenue, Lansing). You can include a Christmas card or note of encouragement, but we ask that you do not include any personal information.
If you have questions, feel free to contact Karen directly at or call the Mission at 517.485.0145. (Click here for pdf flyer.)

Men's Christmas Bag Items:
Soap (in a ziploc bag)
Shaving Cream
Twin Blade Razors
Cough Drops
Kleenex (small packs)
Hand Warmers
Gloves (ski type)
Knit Hat
Warm Scarf (if possible)
Card/Note of Encouragement (no personal information please!)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Junior League Luncheon at the U-Club!

Mark "serves" Board President Bill Rinck and his wife
Sandy at a previous Junior League of Lansing luncheon.
On the 14th of November, Mark Criss, our executive director, will be participating in the Junior League of Lansing’s Lunch with League at the University Club in Lansing.  This is a fundraising event which helps to support volunteer efforts for things such as:
• Special Olympics
• Haven House Dinner & Youth Activity Project
• Allen Neighborhood Project
• Ronald McDonald House Dinner
• And much, much more!
The Junior League of Lansing provided funds for the classroom kitchen at our women and children's shelter and continue to support the Mission in many other ways.  Please help us support their efforts by letting Mark wait on you!  He’ll refill your drinks and run back and forth for your every need.  Tickets cost $25 and will be for a specific seating time ranging from 11:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. If you are unable to attend, please consider leaving him a generous tip instead…all proceeds will benefit Junior League of Lansing.

To purchase tickets and guarantee a spot in Mark's section, you must go to: (Click on the number of seats for Mark Criss at 11:45am or 1:00pm seating times).

Friday, September 13, 2013

Encounter with Hope

Intent on reaching my office and the work that awaits me there, I take the stairs two at a time. I'm so focused I barely manage a nod and tight smile for the boy and young woman coming down the stairs in my direction. He, too, is intent and moves purposely toward me, so that before I even realize I've walked straight into...a hug. He beams a smile at me that, if science could manage it, would light our entire building. My glance lifts to his mother, who is also smiling.
"He hugs everybody," she tells me.
I ask his name, and he tells me his nickname. Work waits while we share a moment's conversation in the stairway, yet even as I talk with him I'm seeing beyond his smiling face and into the bleak future that could lay ahead of him.
If my job were in a business or a retail setting, these thoughts would never occur to me. But I work at a homeless shelter. The stigma and obstacles attached to a child in poverty, let alone a homeless child, are very real. As real as the smile on a face that sees nothing but hope. He is not afraid for his future. Like every other child, he dreams of being a firefighter. Or an astronaut. Or a basketball player.
They go on their way, this child of hope and the mother who so obviously dotes on him. And in spite of the statistics and the studies, I take a little hope with me too. Because where he may go is not as relevant as where he is. He is safe, and he is here. Praise the Lord, he and his mother have found shelter at the Mission. Where the love and compassion of an entire community come together to provide him with food, shelter, and the hope that is ingrained in his personality.
You will probably never meet this little boy, but to those of you who support the Mission through donations, volunteering, and prayer, Thank You. On behalf of this boy and his mother, and the 553 moms and kids we sheltered last year, I want to tell you that you have made a difference. You are making a difference.
Thank you for being a Rescuer by helping us help others.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Any Mission staff person will tell you that it is a blessing to speak with our "Fellow Rescuers" whose gifts, prayers, and volunteer efforts support the ministry of Rescue. However, I can still be surprised by things that are said to me when I represent the Mission at various events.
Recently, as I waited by our display at an event, I was approached by an older person who is a member of an organization that has supported the Mission for many years. While I did not recognize this gentleman, I was pleased that he'd stopped by to talk while so many walked on by without a word.
He mentioned the organization of which he is a part and made further comments about the Mission, which showed he knew something of our history. I shared with him the number of those we're serving now, 142 every night, and expressed that was a definitely an increase from how many we served even a few years ago.
He nodded and said, "Well, I know most of them want to be homeless, but they still need help."
I must admit I found myself suddenly speechless, especially as he was standing in front of a display featuring the smiling face of a little girl whose mother brought her to the Mission after escaping a rather tragic, domestic situation. He seemed a sweet man, and I didn't feel it was the time or place to argue with him. Nor was I able, in my semi-shocked state, to come up with words that would educate with kindness.
The truth is the man was looking at homelessness and our work among the homeless with a "stereotypical" viewpoint that may have been somewhat accurate seventy or eighty years ago, but not many people "want" to be homeless. The opposite is often true: we have many guests who long to be independent. Who want employment that enables them to support themselves. While they are grateful for the Mission and for those who give, they are willing and wanting to be self reliant.
Truthfully, there are those who fit the "stereotypical view." I've met one man (one person in nearly nine years working at the Mission) who enjoyed being homeless and living "in every state in the US." And we help men and women who are homeless due to addictions or other problems. However, there are "homeless," unseen and unknown who are working all throughout this city. People waiting in line at the bus stop. Children going to school. Young people attending college. Just regular people...who are homeless.
I am grateful to this gentleman for his support of the Mission and even for speaking with me. His words are a reminder that we still need to communicate what we as an organization do and whom we serve. Just by telling our story and the stories of our guests, we are making a difference. We are transforming a "number" into a person. And a "person's a person," if you will allow me to paraphrase, no matter where they live, a house, an apartment, or a shelter.
-post by CRM Communications Manager
Get regular "Rescue News" telling the story of the Mission and those we serve by signing up to receive our monthly email (click here) or mailing (click here).

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Cost of Drinking

This article recently ran in the August 15 issue of "Street Smart," the online newsletter of the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions. Many Missions, like the City Rescue Mission, have some kind of ministry dedicated to meeting the needs of those who are alcoholics and/or addicts. It is no surprise to read of the devastation caused by alcoholism, as in the case of this article, or addiction. We see issues resulting from this lifestyle on an individual basis every day, in the lives of the men and women we serve. However, the cost of drinking is a cost paid by everyone, as described in this article:
A CBS News report notes that the health woes related to heavy alcohol use costs the U.S. more than $223 billion a year in health costs. Heavy drinking carries major health risks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including increased chances of long-term ailments such as liver disease, heart problems, fertility issues, some cancers, and neurological issues such as stroke or dementia. Shorter term, alcohol poisoning, traffic accidents, falls, violence, and risky sexual behaviors are also associated with large amounts of alcohol consumption. Binge drinking—defined as when men drink more than five drinks and women drink more than four drinks in two hours—is responsible for more than 70 percent of the excessive alcohol costs, a total of $171 billion annually. The report estimated state-by-state economic costs of drinking, including those from binge drinking and underage drinking. The median state cost associated with excessive drinking was $2.9 billion, with about $2 out of every $5 of these costs being paid for by the government. The state that absorbed the least alcohol costs was North Dakota, coming in at $420 million. The most costs were found in California, totaling nearly $32 billion. Researchers broke down the numbers even further and found based on population, the District of Columbia has the highest per-person cost associated with excessive drinking ($1,662 per person) while Iowa had the lowest ($622). Across all states, excessive drinking costs due to productivity losses (such as missed work) ranged from 61 percent in Wyoming to 82 percent in the District of Columbia. The share of costs due to added health care expenses ranged from 8 percent in Texas to 16 percent in Vermont.

To read the original CBS News report, click here.

The City Rescue Mission's Life Transformation Program, for those dealing with addictions, is available at no charge to men and women in need. This is a one-year, in-house, Bible-based addictions program. Visit our website,, to review the information; then call the Mission at 517.485.0145 if you have further questions.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"The charitable tax deduction works." - John Ashmen

In 1917, Congress created the charitable tax deduction in an effort to provide support to the many non-profits and charitable organizations bearing the burden of "social welfare." The Mission, founded in 1911 and registered as a non-profit in the late 1940s, is one of the qualifying charities that benefits from this provision. With current economic woes still sending shock waves through our economy and recent revelations regarding the Internal Revenue Service, a current congressional committee is toying with the idea of rewriting the tax code by "starting with a clean slate," one that could possibly wipe out the charitable tax deduction.

In a recent response to an op Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, several non-profit association leaders reiterated the importance of independent non-profit organizations for providing much needed services. John Ashman, president of the Association of Gospel Rescue Mission, joined his voice to this group and highlighted very important information about the role of non-profits in America.

Per his words, "For every $1 a donor deducts, $3 are returned to communities in the form of services and support." This means that for every $1 of revenue that the government returns to the tax payer (not a credit but a deduction toward what they "owe"), $3 are used to meet needs within that community. A $10 deduction, for example, is a return investment of $30 to women, children, and men in need.

In contrast to the "clean slate" approach, another recent report, published by USA Today, found that "Americans by more than 2-1 say the best way to make positive changes in society is through volunteer organizations and charities, not by being active in government." (Susan Page, USA TODAY).

To read the whole Wall Street Journal article, click here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Feeding the Hungry

Food Drive held by First National Bank.
While updating some of our display information regarding hunger in America, I decided to check current stats for the number of those facing "food insecurity." Food insecurity is technically defined by the USDA as "At times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security andvery low food security." The original figure I used in 2009 (based on data that was already a few years old, as the numbers are churned out rather slowly) showed that 36.2 million Americans face that uncertainty. Current numbers (based on data collected in 2011) show that number to be 50.1 million. This 50.1 million includes 8.6 million children, and  845,000 children (1.1 percent of the nation's children) lived in households with very low food security. Very low food security is defined as "In these food-insecure households, normal eating patterns of one or more household members were disrupted and food intake was reduced at times during the year because they had insufficient money or other resources for food."
These numbers are staggering but not surprising when compared to the Mission's own rise in meal production. In 2007, the Mission served about 72,500 meals. Last year, we served over 106,000. It is not always easy to meet this need, but we are blessed by fellow Rescuers whose donations have enabled us to continue increasing meal production. Thank you for all you do to help us feed women, children, and men who are physically and spiritually hungry!

To host a food drive for the City Rescue Mission, email or call 517.485.0145. More information is available on our website: To give a donation to the Mission, click here to Donate Now!
More information on Food Security in the United States from the USDA.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Spaces Open for Volunteering at CRM!

Kim volunteers at CRM.
We have plenty of space (currently) available for our upcoming volunteer orientation on Tuesday, July 2 at noon. Yes, it really is almost July ;) Below are some of the areas where "Rescuers" are most needed:
  • Women and Children's Shelter: evening check-in volunteer, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. There is one spot available for each day. This is an opportunity for a woman volunteer.
  • Men's Shelter: breakfast server Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. There is only spot available for each day. This is an opportunity for a man or a couple.
  • Thrift Store: most days from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). This is great for groups up to 6! Can be men or women. Bring your teenage children to help ;)
If you are interested in filling any of these positions or learning more about volunteering to help us help others check out the "Get Involved" page of our website (for our volunteer application). This page will also have further descriptions regarding these and other opportunities. To contact our volunteer coordinator, email or call 517.485.0145.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shelter By the Numbers

It's that time again, or, to be more technical, it's "stats" time again. Math is definitely not my first language, and while the moving "voice" of our guests gives life to the services we provide, I am still somewhat in awe of the sheer amount of those services. With May numbers coming in, we see the trend for an increase in needs, especially for shelter, only continuing.
An overview of the past few years reveals that:
  • In 2010 (before renovations were completed on our expanded women and children's shelter), we provided 33,375 nights of shelter (20,427 to men, 12,948 to women and children);
  • In 2011 (with renovations completed in the Spring), we provided 48,705 nights of shelter (20,958 to men, 27,747 to women and children). That equaled out to an increase of 42 people every night;
  • In 2012, increases continued, with shelter surpassing the 50,000 mark at 51,891 nights of shelter. That nightly average was less dramatic but still came to 9 people every night;
  • In 2013, if the current trend shown for the first five months of this year continues, we will repeat 2012 with an additional 9 people every night, to bring our nightly total to 151 people and over 55,000 nights of shelter.
A lot of numbers and words to mean that in three years (2011-2013) we will have increased capacity to shelter 60 more people every night than we did in 2010. "Increased capacity" is a generous term that includes so much more than finding space in which to put a bed. Each person requiring shelter also requires food, hygiene items, electricity, water, support staff (for intake, kitchens, maintenance, etc.), and more. These increased needs were met without any real change to the overall budget since 2011.
In the June 2013 newsletter, we reported that services are "up" while giving is "down." We are so grateful to those "fellow Rescuers" who continue to give faithfully, whether monetarily or from our needs list, even during difficult times. Thank you to volunteers, whose thousands of volunteer hours provide much needed support to staff. And thank you to our prayer warriors, who pray for the Mission, its needs, and our guests. Truly, you are making a difference in Michigan's capital area by helping us help others!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rapidly Rehousing Homeless Families: New York City—a Case Study

Recently, the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness published a report addressing the "Rapid Rehousing" or "Housing First" programs that have been seen as the key to ending homelessness. This report, which uses New York City's program as a case study, seems to echo many of our own concerns regarding the "Housing First" mindset.

In summary, the difficulties with the "Rapid Rehousing" program uncovered in New York City are
  • an "explosion" of homeless rates, as those "doubling up or living in substandard housing" moved into shelters to take advantage of housing assistance available to those who were "verified" homeless (usually proven by a shelter verification of stay);
  • an overload on the shelter system as the numbers of homeless underwent the eligibility process to receive housing assistance;
  • an increase in "recidivism" (return to homelessness) and its included costs, as many underlying issues of homelessness were not addressed and led to a cycle of homelessness;
  • once the "housing first" subsidies were halted, families "caught" in the cycle of homelessness were unable to find housing at all, resulting in an increase in not only the amount of those staying in shelter but also in the amount of time they stayed.
"The lesson to be drawn from all of this should be clear: 'one size fits all' policies for addressing family homelessness do not work. Not all families are equal. Some families successfully transitioned to permanent housing after their shelter stays, but others did not. Many have multiple needs beyond simple housing that should be addressed before their move to independent living. Rapid rehousing was a failed experiment that produced unwanted incentives and unwarranted costs, all of which the city's Department of Homeless Services must now address. In New York City, rapid rehousing became a short-term fix for a long-term problem. Whether or not it is successful in the future in other parts of the country, for now the caution light is on."
Ralph da Costa Nunez, PhD
President and CEO

To read the full report, click here:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Recycling for Rescue

Recycling efforts have helped
provide over 17,000 meals!
This summer will mark our 10th anniversary in "recycling for Rescue" with the help of FundingFactory, a company which recycles used inkjet and toner cartridges, as well as cell phones and other small electronics.
How it works (per their website) is that “every qualifying item you send in has a cash value that's credited to your online account. And everything you send to FundingFactory is responsibly recycled or remanufactured.”
Since 2003, we have recycled nearly 1,200 pounds of cell phones, 3,500 pounds of inkjets ,and 83,000 pounds of toners. Per our “sustainability report,” which shows the impact made through our recycling efforts, the resources we've collected are 31,950.28 lbs. Plastic, 2,711.16 lbs. Nylon, 27,457.71 lbs. Steel, 3,582.22 lbs. Aluminum, and 209.82 lbs. Copper. Altogether we've offset CO2 emissions from the consumption of 101,700 gallons of gasoline.
 All this adds up to $45,706.12 since we sent in our first shipment about 10 years ago.  As for the impact on people’s lives, at current budget numbers it adds up to about 2,285 nights of shelter or 17,247 meals.
If your business, church, or organization would like to partner with us in "recycling for Rescue," follow this link ( and put in the Mission's ID Number: #29930.
For more information on FundingFactory, visit or you can call us at 517.485.0145

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Message from Mark: "Good Friday, indeed!"

Loved Ones,
Today, I can’t help but reflect on the depravity of man and the impact of sin.  I think we don’t
often remember or attempt to weigh the impact of our rebellion against God.  Consider how dead we were in our transgressions and sins in which we once lived.  Consider what it would be like to fall in the hands of a living God without knowing Christ. Consider this day where we would be if God didn’t awaken our hearts and enable us to see the uselessness of our rebellion against Him.
Oh what marvelous and matchless grace! “Grace, grace…marvelous grace!”  Can you see it today?  Let’s take a moment and reflect on God’s loving act on Calvary.  Thank Him for enabling us to cling to His righteousness through faith.  “It is by grace you have been saved through faith.” 
Please join me in remembering the rich mercies of God in which He loved us.  Yes, even when we were dead in our sin and transgressions.  How much easier it is to be a servant to others when we reflect on the price that was paid on our behalf. We are not our own.  We were bought with a price. Let’s glorify God in what we do.  Thank you for being an important part of the ministry of rescue.  Your role at the Mission helps to bring the transgressor nearer to the cross of Calvary in order to see the glory of the Gospel!  The beauty of Christ…victory over sin and death!
Good Friday, indeed!
To God be the Glory,
Mark Criss
Executive Director
City Rescue Mission of Lansing

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Difference a Decade Makes

There has been a lot of change at the Mission in the past ten years, and many of those are in the area of services. Much of the increase in need has occurred in the past six years, and we see little sign that there will be a decrease in the near future. Thank you, to all our fellow Rescuers, whose gifts to support the Mission enable us to continue to meet the physical and spiritual needs of women, children, and men in Michigan's capital area.

2002 Mission Services Statistics:
Personal Need (Hygiene Kits): 794
Nights of Shelter for Men: 9,440
Nights of Shelter for Women and Children: 8,252
Meals: 53,020

2012 Mission Services Statistics:
Personal Need (Hygiene Kits): 1,834
Nights of Shelter for Men: 21,477
Nights of Shelter for Woman and Children: 30,415
Meals: 106,742

Below are some events to help remind us just what happened in 2002:
The Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A Beautiful Mind won the Academy Award for Best Picture
The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl.
The first anniversary of the September 11 attacks is held.
The Beltway Sniper attacks end with the arrests of the men involved.
The Iraq Disarmament Crisis occurs.
United Airlines and US Airways both file for bankruptcy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

City Rescue Mission Upscale Thrift

The City Rescue Mission of Lansing, in partnership with RMA, is in the process of opening a thrift store in Lansing. Since the Mission opened its clothing distribution center (as it is now called) in 1994, we have always had items donated which we could not use. Those items we could not distribute were sent to thrift stores, none of which supported the efforts of the Mission. The board and executive director, after reviewing ways to be better stewards of donations, decided to partner with RMA to open a thrift store.
While excess donations will be sold at the store, we will also continue our clothing distribution center to meet the clothing needs of the men, women, and children who are staying in our shelter. We will also continue to provide hygiene items through our personal needs closet.
For this reason, we are currently accepting donations of clothing, household items, small appliances, and small electronics. Once the thrift store is fully operational, we will also be able to accept furniture donations.
To keep updated on the progress of the thrift store, "like" us on facebook at!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Walking among Miracles

When people ask me, "What's the best part of your job," my standard response is that I get to do what I love and help people while doing it, but recently some reflection made me realize that the truth is maybe a little deeper. Every day I come to work, I walk among miracles. We are blessed by a foundation laid and maintained by godly men and women over the past 100 years, and the result of stepping in the footprints of those predecessors is that we are seeing the "fruit" of decades of dedication and diligence, both in donations and in transformation.
Every day, the Lord provides our needs so that we can provide for the needs of our guests. Last year, an average of 142 women, children, and men found shelter at the Mission every night (with the largest percentage of our guests being women and children). We served, on average, nearly 300 meals each day in 2012. How was so much accomplished? Because of the everyday miracles of someone sending a check, making a donation online, or dropping off items at our door. The continued compassion of our community is a miracle.
Greater than simply meeting physical needs, we have the opportunity to show the love of Christ to those who are hopeless and hurting. I could write page after page of stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of the message and actions of the Mission. I work beside some of those individuals and can't help but be moved to think of where their life is now compared to where it could have been. Praise God that "rescue" refers not only to the temporal but also to the eternal. And what a blessing to be, not the cause of life transformation, but the means by which God can reach into the lives of those in need of His grace.
As you support the Mission, never doubt that what you do matters. What you do makes a difference. It is the continued compassion and faithful generosity of our fellow Rescuers that assures that as I step across the threshold of the Mission I walk among miracles.

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Helping Hand

On a snowy day, much snowier than this one, I learned a lesson about people that I have never forgotten. Back then, the administrative offices were still located on Michigan Avenue. From the large window, a person could look over the snow-covered street to the snow-covered parking lot beyond. The snow had piled and drifted and piled and drifted. Everywhere was mush and muck, and everyone hugged their coats closer around them. And just a few feet to the east of where I sat were men beginning to line up for lunch at the Mission dining room, as they did every day. Sure, Michigan Avenue is the "Gateway to the Capitol," and looks straight toward the majesty of our beautiful capitol building itself, when it's not shrouded in fog or blowing snow. These men, however, weren't interested in the view. They cared about a hot meal and shelter from the elements. Some were chatting, as they do, while others were silent.

Through their midst came a woman in a rich suede coat, as black as her hair. She marched through the snowy sidewalk and the group of men gathered for a meal and knocked on the office door. I'm not sure if it had been her intention to reach us, I rather doubt it as she continued down the sidewalk after her short barrage at my general vicinity. Her complaint: we enabled "people like that" when they should be out working. She said slightly more than that but not much. I guess she felt compelled to voice her opinion before she moved on to her real business of the day. She was gone before I had even a chance to think of a response.

Down the sidewalk she went, her back a black shadow against the snow as she moved away from the Mission and the men waiting there. I almost wish she had turned. Or that she had come just a few minutes later. For as I watched her disappear, I saw those same men rush toward the street. Across the snow-covered street in that snow-covered parking lot was another woman, pushing vainly at her car. Stuck. And stuck good. She was fighting the elements and, to her rescue, came a troop of guys who had seen her trouble and come to offer a helping hand.

Altogether they worked at the car and dug at the snow with their gloved hands, until the little car was free and the woman they had helped continued on her way with a wave and a "thank you." And they returned to the Mission and went in the door to sign-up for a meal. We gave them a "helping hand," a hot meal and shelter from the elements. They knew that our help was a "gift" and they expressed their gratitude by offering a hand of help to someone else in need.

People helping people. Not "people like that." There is no such thing as "people like that"; There are just people. Because haven't we all needed "rescue" in our lives at one time or another? And isn't it offered again and again, every day, from the Hand of Grace?

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22-24

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Building Blocks for Life Transformation

The City Rescue Mission of Lansing provides a Life Transformation Program to men and women who are seeking to overcome drug and/or alcohol addiction. We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to people who 1) need more in-depth "treatment" and 2) cannot afford the costs of a rehabilitation program. Your gifts help us to help those seeking Life Transformation.

While reviewing their many blessings in 2012, the women in our program wanted to be sure to give their personal thanks to those whose gifts are helping them reach their goal of Life Transformation:
We would like to thank the City Rescue Mission and the Women's Life Transformation Program for all that they have done for us this year. We are very thankful to everyone who donated their time, supplies, and even Christmas gifts for our children. Without God and each and every one of you, it would be impossible for us to transform our hearts, minds, and lives to glorify God!
These feelings of gratitude our echoed by the men on our program, as well as by staff. We recognize that without your support we would be unable to meet the needs of our students.
Below is a wish list of some "extra" items for both areas of the program:

Men's Program
Life Application Study Bible (NKJV), hard copy or leather bound
XL Bible Covers (for men)
Mach 3 refillable razors and blades
Greatest Area of Need: Employment. Our men are in great need of jobs during their final months with us and after they graduate. We are especially appreciative for employers who could be an encouragement and support for these men.

Women's Program
Bathroom Scale
Lap desks
Kitchen items, such as microwave safe containers with lids
Laundry baskets
Current calendars in a planner style
Great Area of Need: A doctor who can assist with the care of our students and be supportive of our work with them and their place in the Mission's Life Transformation Program.

For more information on the program, you can check out the brochure for men or for women.