In October of 2019, we told the story of “Sebastian,” a man with severe learning disabilities. He had found refuge at the Mission after suffering years of mistreatment from his “payee,” a person appointed to handle the disability funds that were set up to make sure his needs were met. Instead, his payee kept the money, forced Sebastian to live outside in a tent, and physically abused him. Eventually, our casework coordinator was able to help him find a new payee, a reputable organization who paid his bills and provided him with a stipend. However, shortly after that interview in 2019, Sebastian, now with money in his pocket, made new “friends” and his overall attitude began to change. These so-called friends convinced him that the Mission was holding him back and that they would help him live independently. He moved out of the Mission and disappeared.
There was a long silence until, one day, Sebastian returned. He had quickly learned that the “friends” were more interested in his funds than in him. We are so grateful that he recognized that the Mission provided a true refuge for him. He was welcomed back with joy and relief.
Today, he continues in our supportive dorm, which offers shelter and meals adjusted to the income level of those it serves. For many men, like Sebastian, this is life-changing. Due to mental and physical disabilities, they are not able to find long-term, livable employment, and, therefore, housing is precarious. More than that, they need the accountability, structure, and support they receive at the Mission. While they are completely capable to physically care for themselves, they are easy prey to so-called friends, willing to take advantage of any income they have.
This is a large part of our hope for the Michigan Avenue Project, to enable us to increase our ability to help men, like Sebastian. “Single Room Occupancy” units, with shared living space, are a huge need in our area. In addition to meeting the need for Food and Shelter, this opportunity will allow us to offer Hope to those who find very little hope or help from those they encounter and, sometimes, their own families.
Recently, we experienced some difficult setbacks regarding the Michigan Avenue Project, see update on page three, so we appreciate your continued prayer not only for the project but for the men, like Sebastian, who need the future and the hope that this project represents.
“Love is patient and kind…love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13:4a-8a
I am writing this newsletter with a heavy heart. As many of you know, my mother had been recovering for six months from a stroke on the last day of 2020. She had many complications and persistent pain when it came to medical procedures and continuing her dialysis on a regular basis. Ultimately, my mother decided that she wanted to “be with my Jesus.” You certainly cannot blame her for her desire. For just as the apostle Paul says that he “would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord,” this was my mother’s desire as well. Gloria Criss is home with the Lord. I am forever thankful for her faithfulness to the Lord. St. Augustine once said, “My mother was in greater labor to ensure my salvation than she had been at my birth.” I believe that is true in my life as well. I will forever be thankful for a praying mother that ultimately wanted me to serve Jesus and know Him forever.
If you read through the five verses of 1 Corinthians 14:4-8, you’ll notice a list of descriptions that define love. We often hear these verses at weddings but, truth be told, we are incapable of doing any of these unless God enables us to persevere and walk in humility and love through the Holy Spirit. Hopefully, as Christians, we can glorify God by walking in the spirit and we continue to make progress in these areas. I am thankful that, every day, we at the Mission get to see God’s love through the proclamation of the Gospel and the work of God’s people. The beginning of verse 7 says, “Love bears all things.” The Greek word for “bears” is interesting because it carries the idea of “thatching over or covering” in order to “keep secret or conceal.” Ultimately, this covering is for the purpose of “protecting and holding out against, so as to endure or forebear” on behalf of someone or something else. There is a splendid similarity to my mother’s work in my early adult years, her prayerful and fervent protection, and the persistent work of the City Rescue Mission for the precious souls who come each night of the year. Ultimately, I see a mother’s unconditional care and love evidenced in the ministry of rescue. Thank you for your love and care for those who need it most. Thank you for being a rescuer!
In Christian Service,
For those of you new to team rescue, you may not have much information regarding our Michigan Avenue Project. The challenges of 2020 revealed not only the necessity of increasing our presence in the 600 block but also presented opportunities to meet needs in the days ahead. In 2020, we were able to purchase two additional buildings in the 600 block of Michigan Avenue that would allow us to increase and improve services from our public dining room, chapel, and men’s shelter. Also, included in this project are the “Single Room Occupancy” units described in this month’s cover story.
Recently, we received a slight setback to the progress of the Michigan Avenue Project. We did not receive one of the grants for which we had applied. This grant would have been a great help in providing a significant portion of funding for the project. With this news and the rising costs of building materials and labor, we have decided to delay demolition on the 603 and 605 buildings while we assess how to be the best stewards of gifts given to meet needs at this location. We are also reviewing other options for this much needed opportunity. Please continue to pray for wisdom and provision as we work toward the next chapter of hope in our community. For more information on this project, please visit BEaRESCUER.org/project.html. To have a Mission representative come to your church or business, please call 517.485.0145 or email info@BEaRESCUER.org.
We are so thankful to be safely accommodating volunteers in a number of different opportunities. As we are able to widen our circles, maybe you have been considering a way in which you could give back to your community. We would love to have you join our team of faithful volunteers involved in the ministry of rescue.
Do you need something before work or after the kiddos have gone to bed? We need help cleaning at the Outreach from 6 AM to 7:30 AM and from 8:30 PM to 10 PM, as well as assistance at the Men’s Shelter from 5:50 AM to 8 AM. We also need assistance at the Outreach from 11 AM to 1 PM, if early afternoon is when you find yourself free.
Do you love feeding people? Is washing dishes your love language? We have openings at both our Men's Shelter and our Women and Children's Shelter assisting with dinner service.
Do you need a blessing after a day at work or school? Come in and help us with Infant Care from 7:15 PM to 8 PM. After a long day, laughing with one of our littlest guests can really make a difference for you and for them.
Do you love thrifting? Come help us at City Rescue Mission Uplift Thrift! All the profit made at the store goes into funding the ministry, and we are able to provide free items to our guests through our voucher program. We need help pricing, tagging, and sorting items so they can go on our sales floor!
Do you have a crazy schedule that never seems to stay the same? Just call our volunteer coordinator at 517.485.0145; I am sure we can find the right volunteer opportunity for your life.