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More About the Mission

"I saw the cross"

cover image

Lyric was riding down Cedar Street in her friend’s car when she saw the “Jesus Saves” cross. “It kind of like went 3D,” she remembers, and she asked her friend if the building was a church. When she heard it was a Christian shelter for women, she determined to call. Recently divorced, she had been struggling to find safe housing. The places she stayed were infested with mice and had other health concerns. Her friend tried to discourage her by saying, “They make you go to church,” but that was only an encouragement to Lyric. She called, and when space became available, she came to the Mission.

“I had a very snooty attitude toward people,” she said, as she describes what she felt like coming to the shelter. Even needing help herself, she had the assumption that people who came to a homeless shelter were choosing to do nothing with their lives. “I didn’t know what to think...I had the wrong thought.”

At first, she kept to herself, but she soon began to see changes in her attitude. God began using her to help others at the shelter. While at the Mission, she found that “chapel keeps you strong,” and as she grew in her faith, she became an encouragement to others.

She faced many difficulties during her time at the Mission, with family problems and financial concerns, but as she took those struggles to the Lord, “He would work it out.” One of the positives during her time at the Mission was finding a church home at Crossroads Church, in which she is still very involved today.

Lyric has been independent for some years now, and recently, she joined the Mission as staff. Her previous attitude toward “homeless people” has been altered by her own personal experience. Today, she is serving at the Mission’s drop-in center, the Outreach. She works through the night to provide a safe, clean place of refuge for those living on the streets. “I have a burden for them,” she says, and we are so grateful for Lyric and other staff who are helping us provide this vital service in our community.

Lyric saw the cross and it brought her in. Your gifts keep that symbol of hope illuminated for so many in need. Thank you for being an important part of providing food, shelter, and hope. Thank you for being a rescuer.

“Who will hear?”

message from mark

“For the needy will not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.” Psalm 9:18

The building is mostly dark with strategic lighting for safety and operations as our guests rest at the Mission’s drop-in center called The Outreach. The place is so quiet in the middle of the night that you can hear someone unzip their backpack or open a granola bar from across the center. There is a low hum of instrumental Christian or classical music to help soothe the mind and soul. It is a sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of the streets that never seems to quiet down. Guests are safe from the dangers of the streets and the increasingly cold weather, both hostile to the unprotected and unprepared person. Approximately 30% of these guests are women. Most of them are chronically homeless because of severe mental illness or addiction to drugs and alcohol. They have nowhere else to go. This is their last resort besides the streets. Who will hear the cries of the poor?

It seems a little ironic that King David so eloquently talks about the deeds of God and then ends the 9th chapter of Psalms with praise for His care for the needy. How can a king such as David relate and have such insight? Of course, King David himself was in great need when he fled from his oppressors, and he feared for his life numerous times. He would have died if not for God’s grace and mercy. How can a dozen or so people at the City Rescue Mission’s drop-in center be analogous with one of the greatest figures in history? Because, God has not forgotten them. No matter how dark, lonely, and desperate life seems to be a times, God is there. They are certainly not forgotten. They have exercised their hope by entering through the door of the drop-in center, and they find a safe refuge. Their heavy burden is lightened by experiencing the love of God’s people. Though dismissed and rejected by society, they are on God’s heart. God has remembered them by working through His children to meet needs every day in the heart of Michigan’s capital city. God still provides and cares for the afflicted. The greatest hope is eternal in Jesus Christ, and the poor of heart will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Please pray that this first step of finding hope becomes eternal.

Thank you for helping the Mission keep our shelter and drop-in center doors open to over 200 children, women, and men each night. Thank you for helping us help others. Thank you for being a rescuer!

In Christian Service,
Mark Criss
Executive Director


rescue news

Over the past two years, the number of those “panhandling” in our area has steadily increased. This is especially obvious downtown. Recently, local business owners, social service agencies, and other community representatives met to discuss better options for our downtown. The goal of all in attendance was to create a way to provide long-term services, especially as a number of these individuals are from outside the area and are not regularly utilizing services offered at local non-profits. Many steps have already been taken. The Mission has opened our drop-in center, the Outreach, for evening hours, with plans to be 24 hours once staffing is in place. Staff at our men’s shelter are reaching out to those who are lingering in our area. Another local non-profit has a team dedicated to meeting with individuals downtown who are homeless. There will also be signs soon, encouraging visitors to the downtown to consider an alternative to giving a handout: making a donation to our local continuum of care, the Capital Region Housing Collaborative. The continuum helps local non-profits coordinate efforts to better provide services.

Second & Third Shifts

mission expansion project update

If you have ever wanted to serve as the hands and feet of Christ in our community, we have full and part time positions available throughout the ministry, especially in second and third shifts. You can provide food, shelter, and hope with as little as 1 shift a week or 2 every other week, and we have a variety of weekend and evening opportunities. There are also a number of full time openings. Find out today how you can do more, visit

Pumpkin Pie Bars

volunteer spotlight

Family Size: 12 Servings
4 large Eggs
1 1/2 cups White Sugar
2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
1 (29 ounce) can Pumpkin puree
2 (12 ounce) cans Evaporated Milk
1 (15.25 ounce) package Yellow Cake Mix, divided
1/2 cup Butter, melted
1 (8 ounce) container Whipped Topping

Mission Size: 96 Servings
32 large Eggs
12 cups White Sugar
1/3 cup Ground Cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 1/2 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoons Ground Cloves
8 (29 ounce) cans of Pumpkin puree
16 (12 ounce) cans Evaporated Milk
8 (15.25 ounce) packages Yellow Cake Mix, divided
4 cups Butter, melted
8 (8 ounce) containers Whipped Topping

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat Eggs in a large bowl. Whisk Sugar, Cinnamon, Salt, Ginger, and Cloves together in a separate bowl. Stir sugar mixture and Pumpkin into Eggs until completely incorporated. Gradually stir Evaporated Milk into pumpkin mixture. Add 1 cup Yellow Cake Mix to the pumpkin mixture and stir to remove any lumps. Pour mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining Yellow Cake Mix over the top and drizzle butter over the cake mix. Bake in the preheated oven until set, about 1 hour. Cool to room temperature and cut into bars. Top with Whipped Topping. (In place of Whipped Topping, we used icing, for ease of serving.)