Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"See what the Lord has done"

Reading through the book of Nehemiah, chapter 3 is a list of those who helped rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. There is a lot of history behind this little book, but what is important to remember is that this is the story of a people returned from exile to find their ancestral capital city a desolation. To the returning Israelites, Jerusalem represented more than a city. It represented a promise between them and God. To repair the walls and rebuild the temple was to make a declaration about a renewed relationship, the revitalization of a community.
As I skimmed the list of names, there were feelings of excitement and awe for these people; I imagined the excitement they must have felt, the camaraderie, as they worked together throughout the city. Then, I came across an interesting note in verse 5, "The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work under their supervisors." What a tragedy! For decades, the men and women (yes, there were women who helped with the repairs) could walk through Jerusalem, look at the bricks, and say, "That was done by my own hands." The memories and the legacy for their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren would be amazing. These nobles cheated only themselves. The walls were rebuilt, because this was God's will for His people, but these men had no memories. They had no fellowship. They had no claim to the mighty work that was done.
The work of the City Rescue Mission is similar to that undertaken by Nehemiah so many years ago. Instead of rebuilding walls, we work to rebuild lives, to help renew relationships, and to revitalize members of our community. By your gifts and donations, you labor together with us. You are an integral part in the work of the Lord, in drawing people to Himself.
We are so appreciative of your gifts and your compassion, and I would encourage you to come, stroll through the Mission. Look at the walls and realize that your gifts helped build a sanctuary, a shelter for those in need. Read the newsletter and experience the stories of lives rebuilt because of your generosity. The first Thursday of the month, we have a director's luncheon for those who've never come to the Mission. Consider reserving a place or scheduling a tour at another time. Come and see what the Lord has done, what mighty work is taking place every day, with you as an important part of that work.

Director's Luncheon:

Newsletter Sign-up:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peace and Good Tidings to Men

I learn so much from speaking with our guests. People are fascinating. The individual differences that make us unique personalities help define who we are. Once you know a person, and by that I mean know those individual differences, see that unique personality, you can no longer place them in a box or categorize them by a single circumstance.
As we look at recent "current events," the news and social media seem full of people using those current events to define their own position and outlook. However, what is missing is the individual or individuals involved. If we could look beyond a single "category," and start to see people as people, with their own mannerisms, quirks, dreams, and experiences, how much harder would it be to pass judgment? To feel anger and frustration and take out that anger and frustration on innocent, uninvolved people. People with lives and dreams and hopes, the same as us.
Visitors who tour the Mission occasionally ask what brings people to the Mission. The answer to that question would be too involved for a tweet or facebook post. I wouldn't even begin to tackle it in this blog. The truth is that there are many paths and roads that lead anyone to the Mission--guests, staff, volunteers, or even the visitor on the tour.
A "homeless" person is first of all a person. They like their coffee a certain way. Or they don't like coffee at all. They're a morning person. Or a night person. They laugh at silly cat videos even though they prefer dogs. They love babies or they feel nervous that they'll drop the tiny things. They were top in their class in college. Or they never finished high school and are working on their G.E.D. They have family that help as they can. Or they are all alone in the world. They are the same as us. They are very different. People from a variety of backgrounds, nationalities, cultures, families, and circumstances, with a single commonality: they are homeless. That commonality does not define them, any more than you can write the story of their life based on whether or not they believed in Santa as a child.
As we celebrate the Christmas season, let us look with the eyes of the Savior, born to set us free. What did Jesus see when He looked out over the faces of humanity, the many in need, crowding around Him. "Heal my son!" "Feed those who are hungry!" "Teach us how to pray." "Bless my child." We find in Matthew 9, that Jesus looked on them with compassion. He looked at a pushing mass of people and saw, just that, people. Individuals. Lives in need of compassion. In need of a Savior. And isn't that the exact reason He came? Isn't that the entire point of Christmas?
My hope for you this Christmas is the same as for me. I hope, and pray, that before I write that nasty comment on a facebook post, or become harassed with that shopping clerk, before I scold the person on the phone telling me what I don't want to hear, or become angry at a (let's admit it) infuriating family member, that I take a moment to see a person. A person who is dealing with his or her own frustrations, sadness, fear, anger, issues... And give that person the gift of kindness this Christmas. A moment of peace and joy and compassion. All those amazing things that Christmas should be about.
Merry Christmas! And may God bless you!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The "Sweet" Spirit of Christmas

The below was an email from the coordinator for the Life Transformation Program for Women:
Good morning, fellow rescuers!
I thought I would share an encouraging story with all of you. I was talking about decorating for Christmas on Friday with the program students and they expressed they weren’t too excited about decorating (or, for some of them, the upcoming season at all). As we were talking, I got a call and was told someone had dropped off the makings for gingerbread houses specifically for the program students. We don't know who it was (and the individual didn’t leave a name), but it was full sets of prepared icing, graham crackers cut to the right dimensions, candy and typed instructions for how to assemble them with large bags of candy to decorate.
I still don’t know who prepared this kit, but the students had an enjoyable time putting them together and it certainly put them in a different frame of mind for Christmas. In fact, one of them did a nativity scene! It was fun, relaxing, and I think it helped each of them look at the upcoming holiday differently. They were touched that someone put in the time and effort to show love to them in this way and had no desire to be recognized or thanked.
I was thinking a lot this past weekend about Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.” Although the context of this verse is a warning, I was reflecting on the reality that as believers, we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken, even when everything around us seems like a mess (as many of us are dealing with daily, whether it’s with those we work with or in our own lives). It was fun for me to realize that assembling gingerbread houses could be an act of worship, praising God for His faithfulness, provision, perfect timing, and love for us as we go into the holiday season.
Praying this story blesses you as watching it unfold blessed me and that you are able to see signs of God’s “sweet” provision in your own life as you go into the Christmas season!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gratitude Comes from the Heart

I think we've all felt some frustration with the Christmas season creeping over other holidays. Holiday decorations begin to show up in stores as early as September. Overall, as a holiday, Thanksgiving has always seemed overshadowed by Christmas, a time of giving gifts and celebrating with family. However, the truth is that the "spirit of Christmas" would be lacking without the prior presence of Thanksgiving. Peace, true peace, comes from a recognition of our many blessings, an acknowledgment that those wonderful things owe their existence to a Source greater than ourselves.
This Thanksgiving, try setting down the "Black Friday" sales flyers, turning off the game (at least for a few minutes), and taking time to count your blessings. There's no need to take turns around a table or scrounge up something that makes you sound deeply spiritual. Find a quiet place, away from the noise and the rush and the "busyness" to really examine your heart and life for the good things you'll find there.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Finding the Balance with Compassion

In a recent article, Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was quoted as saying "let your heart break." She was addressing that awkward feeling of paralyzing guilt when you look at the troubles of others and compare it with your own life.

It is very easy to find bad news. There is no difficulty in finding people who need help. Often times, we can become overwhelmed by the heart breaks and tragedy that are a part of the fallen world in which we live. The way many people deal with this is to compartmentalize. We find this often as a non-profit. There are communication opportunities available for businesses that are not available for us. People are hesitant to "mix" happy, fun events with awareness of real problems. "That just brings everybody down...right?" We feel guilty enjoying the blessings of our life when faced with the reality that there are people who don't have those blessings. However, we can't just ignore very real needs in our community.

So, what is the answer?

The answer is to let your heart break. Feel compassion. This is healthy! It's okay to want to do something. Just as it is okay not to take on the weight of doing everything. No one can do everything, not even Melinda and Bill Gates. But we can all do something.

Choose a passion. Don't let guilt be the motivating factor in any decision making process. Let me repeat that: don't let guilt be the motivating factor in any decision making process. Be wise in how and where and why you offer help. Sometimes, our impulsive gestures, based on fleeting feelings of guilt, actually cause more harm than help. It's okay to think about things.

My hope is that when you support a non-profit, like the City Rescue Mission, you truly feel you are part of a team, working toward something you believe in. We encourage you, if you'd like to know more about the Mission and how we're meeting needs in our community, come for a visit! On the first Thursday of every month, we have a director's luncheon. You'll have the opportunity to talk with Mission staff, visit our facility, and hear from guests how supporters of the Mission have made a difference in their lives.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Story of a Mouse

When I began working at the City Rescue Mission, nearly 10 years ago, I helped out in the office by processing donations. Every once in a while, a card would arrive with no name. There might be a money order tucked inside a partial envelope with the sticker of this little mouse. It took me a few times to realize this donation was "anony-mouse." This unnamed donor was not the only person to give in honor of this furry, little fellow. Hardly a day goes by that something doesn't come to the Mission, whether it's money or a needed item, that is donated anonymously. These donors, as with most of our donors, don't ask for recognition, but that doesn't mean we don't recognize the importance of their gift. We are grateful to all of our fellow rescuers. Our guests are grateful. Thank you for the difference you make every day in the lives of women, children, and men in need. God bless you!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Impact of a Life

It was just a few words, written on a slip of paper, and tucked into an envelope with a donation. We occasionally receive notes from supporters and are always humbled and blessed by their encouraging words. These words, however, were especially poignant.

Just a line to let you know why my thoughts and prayers are for the Rescue Mission.

My brother, who was 19 years old and a Marine, was on his way to war in Korea. He went into the Mission in Chicago and he gave his life to the Lord. He was baptized at the marine base in California before he was shipped out. He was killed the last day of the war.
I will be 92 in a few days, but praise the Lord, because of that Mission, I will soon see my brother again. His name was Robert McConnell.
Thank all of your workers for what you are doing for the Lord Jesus.
We've all heard the analogy about ripples on the water, and how one action can continue out to affect many other lives. The City Rescue Mission impacts hundreds of lives every day, but it is the generosity and compassion of our fellow rescuers, Mission supporters, that enable us to provide food, shelter, and hope to our guests. Each of those individual rescuers may feel that what they are doing is small and unimportant, but you never know the difference made by a single decision.
Robert McConnell's life was changed forever by a brief visit to that Mission in Chicago. His sister's life was changed when she received a note from the Mission and learned of her brother's decision for Christ. Her decision to support the City Rescue Mission, in honor of her brother, has no doubt resulted in many lives being changed here in our community.
The decisions you make today can make a difference. They don't have to be monumental or involve press releases or fanfare. They may even seem small and unimportant, but the result could change someone else's life forever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Brother, Saul..."

Recently, during our regular Wednesday night Bible study, our Pastor covered Acts 9. For us, looking back on Acts as ancient history, we know the "rest of the story" and interpret what we read based on what we know will happen. However, if we open our eyes of understanding and really look at what is happening in this section of Christian history, we see the very first steps in the transformation of a young Christian persecutor named Saul into the Christian hero he became as "Paul."

In this passage, Ananias, seemingly a side note in Paul's testimony, steps out in tremendous faith, to take a message of hope and forgiveness to a man responsible for so much evil. We know Saul's heart had already been changed. We know all the amazing things he would do for the name of Christ. The miracles he would perform, the sermons he would preach, the Inspired letters he would write. We know that Jesus had already performed a miracle in his life, but Ananias only knew that God had a plan for Saul.

When he goes to the home where a blinded Saul--broken and probably afraid--has found temporary refuge, Ananias utters one of the most beautiful phrases in all of Scripture: he calls Saul "brother." There are no recriminations. No demands for apologies or explanations. God has told Ananias that Saul is now His chosen vessel, and Ananias treats him as such.

The lesson we learn from Ananias is that God is not concerned with our past, except in how He has used it to lead us to Him. He is concerned with our future. Because of Ananias' faith in action, Saul/Paul could later write from personal experience, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Take heart! Don't allow the past to become a stumbling block to your future. Know with assurance that "all things are become new"!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Write Your Epitaph

"of whom the world was not worthy" Hebrews 11:38a

As a high school senior, I and my fellow students were charged with writing our epitaphs. It was rather a gruesome thought for a seventeen year old, but the exercise turned my focus outward, on what was truly important to me. To this day, I occasionally find myself questioning what people will remember about me. What will my legacy be? How will I be remembered?

You'll find much today encouraging us to "live big," because success is measured by how much attention it receives. But the most meaningful actions are often the most "meaningless," when it comes to bringing fame or "building important connections."

  • One regular donor makes items on behalf of the Mission. She is going to be celebrating her 90th birthday and has been donating for more than 20 years. Things like adult size quilts for our beds are especially needed.
  • One gentleman calls and asks what the most needed items are for the kitchen. He just purchases what he can, but he regularly meets immediate needs.
  • Some of our donors give every month and include notes of encouragement for staff, to assure us that they are praying for us. They write that they wish they could give more.

You may never know their names, but they are remembered, just as the "unnamed" heroes of Hebrews 11 are remembered. Their actions do not garner success or fame or much attention, but the results are read in the hearts and on the faces of women, children, and men in need.

How do you want to be remembered? In words of stone or letters on a computer screen? Or do you want your legacy to be reflected in the sudden smile of a child who is safe and sheltered; the softly spoken voice of a young woman as she prays with a staff person; the satisfied sigh of an elderly man as he sits down to a warm meal after walking the winter streets; or the tears of rejoicing as a mother gives her burdens to Christ...

What is your epitaph?

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Kids Can Be Kids"

Stopping in the day shelter on a quiet afternoon last Friday, I heard one of our moms reading aloud to her little boy as he crawled around in the child care room. It is a normal enough scene if not the normal "home" setting. However, I was sharply reminded of a recent conversation I'd had with another guest, about how the kids can be kids. She, a single woman, had no children but she spoke in amazement of how "normal" the children acted. I could understand her astonishment and echo her words of relief. While not all of us have had children, we have all been children. Childhood is such a precious time, and the experiences our young guests face, when they come to the shelter with their moms, could be one of deepest tragedy. Praise the Lord, they experience compassion and care. They are protected and they are loved. As is the case in every situation, kids add a measure of chaos, but "kids can be kids" here. And that is truly a wondrous thing. Thank you for your gifts, that enable us to provide food to eat and a safe haven of rest. But thank you most of all for your prayers that strengthen us and enable us to provide hope to those in need.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"It Will Be Worth It All"

Recently, a friend moved back into the area after ten years. The move happened to coincide with my pastor's message series on heaven. As I thought about my joy at greeting my friend, I couldn't help but compare it to the joyous reunion celebration there will be in heaven. Looking over the faces of family and friends will be inexpressibly sweet.

But there is one face in the crowd for which I'll earnestly seek. His face will be one I've never seen but know by heart. The face of my Creator. My Savior. My Rescuer. He'll hold out a hand of welcome, and I'll see the nail prints--those wounds He gladly suffered for my redemption--and I'll finally be home.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Choice of a Moment

Stopping at an intersection on my way to work this morning, I happened to have my window rolled down. Over the noise from my radio, I heard a bird. We're blessed to hear lots of birds, but I turned my head to see this dark, drab fellow perched on a telephone wire and singing his little heart out. Beneath him, traffic rumbled ever on, the bustle of the street all but drowning out his little tune even though his body was so puffed up with his singing that he was practically in flight.
The light turned green, and I left him behind. But as I drove to work, I thought about that little bird. I thought about me. About us. How we all have this amazing opportunity, every day, to impact the lives of those around us. By our actions, our words, and our attitudes, we can aid in a person settling for selfishness, for greed, for a narrow, windowless life. Or we can sing our little hearts out. We can, by our actions, our words, and our attitudes, encourage those we meet to be something more. To be someone greater. To be kinder, wiser, more merciful, more compassionate, even more creative. Which kind of person am I? Which kind of person will I choose to be today? Now. Even in this very moment.
My prayer for you today, my prayer for me, is that God will grant me the ability to be greater than myself. To stand up for right. To be kind to those who seem uncaring. To show love and compassion without thought of return. To sing even when no one seems to be listening.

"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen." Ephesians 3:14-21

Monday, April 7, 2014

God was Watching

The story takes only four verses in the gospel of Mark and again in Luke. Four verses to describe an event that has been the topic of sermons and study for hundreds of years. In those days, the temple would have a place for people to deliver their offerings and gifts to the Lord. This special donation "bin" was out in the open for all to see. Jesus Himself was standing there with His disciples, watching the wealthy put their tithes into the box. They were obvious with their clothes and the large amount of their offering, but it wasn't the wealthy to whom Christ drew the attention of His disciples. "Look at this," you can almost hear Him whisper, and the disciples turn to see what amazing gift will come next. But it's only an elderly widow, and all she contributes is a few tiny coins. Perhaps she felt a bit shy about coming to give her gifts in the midst of all the wealth around her. Still, she gave. And she gave not out of her wealth but "out of her poverty," scripture says. What she didn't know was that God was watching. And He wasn't keeping tally of the amount of her gift; He was seeing the generosity in her heart. (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)
At the City Rescue Mission, we are constantly blessed by the generosity and support of our fellow rescuers. Without your gifts and prayers, we would be unable to provide food, shelter, and hope to the hundreds of women, children, and men who come to us in need. We are grateful for all gifts, but we are truly humbled by the sweet notes we receive from some of our faithful supporters who give, as the widow gave; their notes include words of gratitude, that they can contribute, and words of regret, that they cannot give more.
I truly believe that the heart behind the donation makes a difference to our guests. The food that they eat, the bed where they sleep, the clothes that they wear, and all the other help we can provide, is a gift of love. An act of compassion. It comes from people, our fellow rescuers, who desire to help us help others.
Thank you so much for your prayers and your generosity, but most of all, thank you for seeing the "people" beyond the need. People who need encouragement, shelter, hope, and compassion. Thank you for being a rescuer by helping us help others.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Team Rescue

As we drag ourselves out of one of the worst winters we've experienced in some time, I can't help but take a moment to reflect on what have been four of busiest months in our 103 year history. We expect to be "busy" during the winter, but our staff and volunteers have definitely gone above-and-beyond. So far this year, our staff have provided a safe haven for 157 women, children, and men every night and served more than 310 meals every day. Volunteers continued faithfully to arrive, bundled up but ready to serve alongside staff. In spite of the raging winter and frigid temps, we were able to serve our guests as we do every day, as we have done for over a century.

While we have "weathered" Michigan winters before, every day is a learning experience, and we are blessed to have such great "team" members to share the joy and the responsibility of providing food, shelter, and hope in Michigan's capital area.
If you are interested in joining "Team Rescue" there are lots of opportunities, both as volunteers and as staff.

Volunteer Information: and email

Employment Information: and email

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Story Behind "The Streets of Our City" March 2014 Mission Outlook

Nearly a year ago, we sorted through the incoming mail to find a precious letter from a girl named Jasmine. Jasmine had seen a man in need, who was walking the streets in tattered clothes. Her heart broke for this man and others she saw in need, and she asked us to please help him. What Jasmine didn't know is that the man about whom she wrote suffered from a mental illness. We had tried to help him, but until he was willing to receive that help, his condition would remain the same.
There was little debate about what to do. Jasmine needed to know that people did care. That we at the Mission cared for those in need. However, the issues of homelessness are varied and complex, and trying to condense those issues into a carefully worded letter was indeed a challenge.
Finally, the letter was sent, along with much prayer, because our hope was that, while Jasmine would understand the issue a little better, she would also realize that her concern was a beautiful and wonderful thing. We do not underestimate the power of compassion, nor would we minimize the strength of a tender heart. Jasmine's heart hurt for those in need, but that pain is, oddly enough, a gift.
That pain is what Paul might describe as love. In 1 Corinthians 13, he wrote, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing."
Often, after sending that letter, I would think of Jasmine, the little girl with the big heart. I would pray for her and wonder if we would ever find out if the letter helped. Then, during our recent "Share Night" at Culver's, Mark Criss, our executive director, was approached by a woman, Jasmine's mother. What a blessing, to meet Jasmine in person and to be able to hear, firsthand, about how the letter was received.
We always enjoy meeting our "fellow rescuers" at events like the "Share Night." It is such a joy to hear from you and to be able to say "thank you" in person for all you do to help us help others. Thank you for your tender heart and the compassion that enables us to provide food, shelter, and hope to hundreds of women, children, and men in need!
Jasmine stands with Laura Grimwood, City Rescue Mission Communications Manager

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thank you, Health Bus Heroes!

Sitting in my office, drinking Vitamin C in the form of orange juice, and hoping the lingering remains of my cold will end soon, I can't help but reflect on how much more difficult even having a cold is when you're homeless. Where do you go? Whom do you see? We are here to help with food, shelter, and hope, and we are so grateful for the agencies who work and serve, as we do, to meet needs in Michigan's capital area.
Some of those unsung heroes arrive at the Mission every Monday in a renovated RV that we call the Ingham County "Health Bus," a service of the Ingham County Health Department. These faithful medical practitioners have been providing medical care to our guests and others with limited or no income for many years, and they have a definite compassion and rapport with the homeless community. They also coordinate to be sure our guests have access to things like the Flu shot, to protect them and others with whom they come in contact.
Thank you, to the "Health Bus" team! We are so grateful for your service to guests of the City Rescue Mission and for your continued work throughout our community!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Behind the Scenes: February 2014 "Mission Outlook"

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the interview. I knew about Rev. Robert Jones III; he's something of a legend at the men's shelter, having served as night security for more than twenty years. My feelings going into any interview are usually the same: a mixture of curiosity and trepidation. That kind of hesitant waiting where your brain prepares to pay attention and know how to direct the questions to create a solid foundation of accuracy and detail for your resulting story.

The end result was unusual in that I asked maybe one question and Mark asked only a few more. The remaining hour and a half was Robert describing his thoughts and fleshing out what he's experienced in two decades of Rescue Mission work. Robert has an amazing aptitude to remember people and dates and times, and it became almost eerie as he drew word pictures of those people he had known.

"It's like I can still see [them] sitting there," and I could see them too. For Robert, the Mission is filled with the memories of those who have worked there, volunteered there, been sheltered and fed there. An overwhelming and very real mix of tragedy and triumph. There were terrible stories of men and women who never left their addictions or destructive lifestyles. Men and women who died long ago. There were victorious stories of those who used the Mission as a "stepping stone," "a bridge," to a better life and better life choices. And there were wonderful stories of men and woman who came faithfully to preach the word or serve a meal, who ministered to guests out of love and compassion. Men and women who had an impact on our guests and on Robert, as well.

When you are a part of a ministry like the Mission, that has served our community for over 100 years, you discover it is rich in history. The Mission, in a sense, is connected to the very heart of Michigan's capital area, because for over 100 years it has served as a physical embodiment of that heart, of the compassion of the people who live here, reaching out toward those in need. The Mission has legacy of service that spans generations.

Robert is a part of that legacy. As are those he remembers. As am I. As are you. Those who support the Mission do more than provide food and shelter for today. They lay a foundation of hope that will impact our community into the future.

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

To read the February newsletter, including Mark's reflections on the interview, click this link: To sign up for the monthly newsletter:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"And the Light Shines in the Darkness..."

The ice storm of 2013 has a different memory for me than for many in mid-Michigan. With Christmas quickly approaching, Mission staff had collected funds and, due to the diligence of Icon Signs, managed to procure the perfect gift for Mark Criss, our executive director: a Jesus Saves cross.

I was contemplating just this morning on the many roads that lead us to the Mission, whether guest or volunteer or staff. For Mark, that avenue began with that Jesus Saves cross that hangs over the Mission chapel building on Michigan Avenue. He was heading to a Lugnuts game when he saw it. The resulting curiosity led to him become a volunteer, serving meals then serving on the board, and finally to his current position as the executive director. So when we had the ability to give him a smaller version for his home, the idea seemed inspired.

Then the lights went out over Lansing.
The blackout hit right before Christmas, and while the Mission was blessedly immune to the power outage, our executive director found his house to be one of the many without power. In fact, his entire neighborhood was blanketed in darkness.
Until he received his Christmas present.
When I see this photo, which Mark posted to his facebook page after plugging his gift into a generator, I think of Christmas. The real Christmas. The message of Christmas that gets lost in the lights, and the tinsel, and the glitter, and the gifts. That message, that Christ came to earth to die for us, isn't just meant for Christmas. It's meant for every day. In that hushed, dark stillness caused by the blackout, the message shone with a brightness unequalled in the whole of its surroundings.
Then the lights came on.
This little cross got lost in the glare of porch lights and television sets, and, if we let it, the message gets lost too. In Romans 12:9 we read, "Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good." Hold fast. It's so easy to be distracted by the glitter of things that, if we truly think about it, are unimportant.
Thank you, Fellow Rescuers, without you that light of Truth would have stopped shining long ago. Instead, we can proclaim a message of Hope to all those in need.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. Isaiah 9:2

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Resolve to Rescue in 2014!

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
Lately, I've noticed a recurring theme in the words of my pastor and daily devotionals, the theme of choice. Joshua asked the nation of Israel to "choose," and that idea of choice included more than just a determination. More than just good intentions. While he asked his fellow Israelites to make a choice, his final words indicated that, for him, that choice had already been made and put into action. Choose and Do. No hesitation. No pause. No "I'll start tomorrow."
A friend once gave me a great piece of advice: make your resolutions (goals) measurable. Don't be vague and say, "This year, I'll be a nicer person." Or "In 2014, I'm going to make a difference." Put specific goals in place; look at your schedule; check out your budget. Do the homework and the research. Create a specific plan and follow through.
Recently, we received a call from one of our fellow Rescuers. Like many others after the ice storm, she was without power for several days. She was calling to ask direction to deliver a donation of new, heavy duty gloves, hats, and flannel shirts. While being without power, she'd come to better understand the needs of those out in the cold weather. So, she put a plan into place and made it happen. Today, there will be several grateful people because she put action to her compassion.
Another year has arrived. Its blank pages lie open, waiting for the actions that will shape our lives and the lives of those around us. You have a choice. Your options for 2014 are open. What will you choose?