For “Don,” the crash in 2008 was when his life fell apart. “I pretty much lost everything, including my health.” After his marriage ended and his insurance ran out, he returned to Michigan for a surgery to save his life. While he survived, the surgery did not restore his health, and he was put on social security and disability. With limited income, he settled in a small house in Lansing and occasionally came to the Mission when the house was red-tagged due to his inability to pay utilities. Surrounded by the constant access to drugs, he took advantage of their deceitful comfort. Eventually, one of the local drug dealers, released on bond during COVID, listed Don’s home as his address and moved in. Don could not evict this man, and his frequent calls to the police led to his life being threatened and him being severely beaten. He fled his home and was in the hospital dealing with injuries while the “shelter-in-place” was in effect. Eventually, he was released from the hospital to “CHOICE,” a combined effort of the local shelters to provide a safe haven for newly homeless during the shelter-in-place orders (the Mission provided meals, cleaning, and staff).
After the shelter-in-place lifted and the temporary CHOICE shelter closed, Don returned to his home to find the house emptied and gutted of anything valuable, piping and belongings. So he came to the Mission. “These men that work here...are probably the best people I’ve met in some time.” Due to the accountability and the distance from access, Don has been clean from drugs for the longest time in years. He has been able to meet regularly with his doctors. In addition to physical healing, he has found spiritual healing. “I’ve gotten in touch with the Lord... Mind, body, and soul, I’m doing better than I have been in years.”
Don is so appreciative of the time to rest and grow and save money for a new start after twelve difficult years. “...how grateful I am for all those people who are giving... This COVID thing has made good people better...I’m glad for the good people.” When describing his time at the Mission, he says it is “a life-saving thing, not just this life but the life after, too.”
There are many men and women in our community like Don, individuals who are struggling to find their way in a world that seems dark and devoid of hope. Thank you for the gifts that allow us to shine the light of truth into the lives of those we serve. Our Michigan Avenue Project is an important opportunity in allowing us to provide a safe haven to the growing numbers of men who need to see compassion in action in their lives and in our community. For more information on this next chapter of Hope, visit BEaRESCUER.org/project.html.
“Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.” James 1:9-10
It seems that it doesn’t matter where we stand on the social economic ladder because our lives and this world are temporal. I find it interesting that the brother of Jesus, James, doesn’t say that “being rich” is wrong or being “poor” is a travesty of justice. He makes it clear that a brother-in-Christ is just as rich as anyone else in this world who is also a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the great equalizer when it comes to men and women. We tend to see people through worldly views and measure them according to “what they do” and “what they have.” A person who has his or her entire worldly possessions in a single bag or locker would not rank high on society’s “Who’s Who” or get much attention on “LinkedIn.” Clearly, success and value are not synonymous when it comes to the kingdom of God.
In example of this, a man came to me after I had preached in the chapel a short time ago. “Mr. Criss, I just want to tell you THANKS for this place. I know that it is God, but He is using you and others for this place to be open. It is so clean and safe. I am very thankful.” It became evident very quickly that this man was about my age, had recently returned to the Lansing area, and was a hard worker. He, of course, never thought he would be homeless, but he had already found an apartment after a few weeks. Alfred has continued to maintain his job in order to save his money for “first month’s rent and deposit.” Part of his expressed gratitude was because he appreciated the messages that are shared in the chapel each night. He explained that he is a “follower of Jesus Christ” and “this place gives a good name to Jesus in the community.” Alfred is so right. Although Christians have been filled with the One who is the head of all rule and authority (Colossians 2:10), not all people in our community understand the significance and importance of faith. Having the same master and authority, Alfred is my brother and is truly an equal in value and worth. His thankfulness and appreciation for God’s work brought me to a shared moment of thanksgiving and praise as well.
Although Alfred has nothing, he is infinitely rich and is not lacking in anything. Together, we meet his needs for food and shelter, so he can experience hope. Thank you for enabling people, like Alfred, to experience God’s provision and to daily focus on His goodness and mercy. Thank you for being a rescuer!
In Christian Service,
Community Meals: 3,120
Women & Children Nights: 11,935
Men Nights: 8,993
Drop-in Center Nights: 4,633
Counseling Sessions: 187
Chapel Attendance: 19,448
Individuals Served: 1,219
The City Rescue Mission Uplift Thrift serves a vital role in the ministry of rescue. They sort through the generous gifts of our community, sending needed items directly to the shelter so our littlest guests have new stuffed animals waiting for them, the woman coming in with no clothes to change into has warm pajamas, and no one ever has to leave our shelter and go out into the rain without an umbrella. They also provide clothes to our guests through our voucher program; this year alone there have been 267 clothing vouchers received. That is 267 shopping trips where our guests were able to maintain their dignity, shop for their own clothes, and have that little sense of normalcy without worrying about finances.
It is a big job sorting through all of the donations, getting items to the sales floor, and keeping the store looking presentable. We would love help from volunteers, with opportunities available Wednesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Volunteers can serve anywhere from 1 to 5 hours and can volunteer as it fits into their schedule. If you would be interested in assisting in this area of the ministry of rescue, please reach out to the volunteer coordinator to discuss scheduling. Email volunteers@BEaRESCUER.org or call 517.485.0145.