June 2018

Most of the people finishing the UGM LIFE Recovery Program this month experienced trauma as young children: Abuse. Neglect. Abandonment. Homelessness.

Those experiences left emotional wounds that were covered up and left to fester. The children became adults and sometimes looked fine for years, but the wounds were still there.

Left alone, that pain grew until it couldn’t be ignored and they’d do anything to make it go away.

That’s why people who have gone through multiple traumas as children are 7-10 times more at risk for alcohol and drug abuse, with all its destructive consequences.

The following stories are hard to hear – even harder for them to tell – but only by listening to the stories can we begin to understand how those wounds can be healed.

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Speak Truth. Speak Life.

I had a teacher in sixth grade who thought she’d motivate me to try harder in school by giving me straight Ds. It didn’t motivate me. Quite the opposite, I began to believe I was stupid. The memory still stings.

I carried that false belief for nearly 14 years. It wasn’t until I was working on my master’s degree and one of my professors told my wife I was a sharp student that I began to believe I had academic potential. It took a university professor, speaking words of truth and encouragement, to remove that label and bring healing.

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A New Family

For people who come from broken or dysfunctional families like those in our cover story, plugging into a local church provides the healthy “family” they need to continue to thrive. Church involvement is one of the most important keys to ongoing recovery after moving out of UGM.

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March 2018

Jolene is beautiful. Her cheerful countenance overflows with love, especially for her two children.

Two years ago, she was sleeping in abandoned buildings and couch-surfing at drug houses. No home. No contact with her kids. No hope.

The Jolene we know today is a miraculous work of God. 

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The Truth of Easter

“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, who could stand?”

This is the Gospel.

All of humanity is under a curse. No matter how hard we try, we can never be truly pure, kind and good. We are blind to the goodness of God. We rebel against His authority in our lives, and we care more about our own self-interest than the interests of others. The Bible calls us wicked, evil, lovers of darkness and describes our hearts as hard and our necks as stiff. And because of all this, we are separated from God, the author of love, beauty, truth and all good things.

Still, amazingly, He loves us. And, so, He created a way back into relationship with Himself. He became man, lived a perfect life, modeled faithfulness and obedience, and allowed Himself to be sacrificed in our place. He suffered the consequences of our wrongdoing, so that we might be forgiven, and in that place – where our sins are separated as far as the east is from the west – we fall into His arms, loved and treasured.

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Partnering to Share the Gospel at the Crisis Shelter

The chapel in the new Crisis Shelter for Women and Children is pretty humble. No organ or pews. No windows, stained-glass or otherwise. No elaborate altar or pulpit.

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January 2018

Thousands of individuals, churches and businesses came together to be part of God’s miracles of provision and transformation, big and small, in 2017. Here are just a few of the highlights – including a few bonus items we didn’t have room for in the print edition! 

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Strengthen and Solidify

2017 was a year of strengthening and solidifying ministry work throughout UGM. Frankly, it all started by identifying some weak areas and strategizing how to improve.

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November 2017

Over the past several years, Union Gospel Mission has seen an increase in the number of young moms with children coming to our shelters.

“Helping young moms in crisis is vastly different than helping single women,” said JoAnn Zajicek, Director at the UGM Center for Women & Children. “You have the abuse, the addiction, the unhealthy coping mechanisms, but you also have women trying to be good mothers when they haven’t been parented well themselves. Sometimes you have children raising children. They desperately want family and, consequently, are often drawn into unhealthy relationships. We have to teach them how to stay present in discomfort, how to do the difficult work of being a single parent without numbing or running away.”

Barely 18 when she came to the Center, Martha is an example of the new face of homelessness.

Growing up without a father, Martha started partying at 13. “It was just my mom raising me and that’s just not the way that God designed it so when we step out of God’s design, then the enemy has so much room to move and destroy and kill and steal. So there were a lot of things stolen from me definitely.

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The Gift of Mothers

Tasked with raising five boys, my mom was an expert at energy management. She knew we needed to keep busy. She played baseball with us, worked alongside us in our daily chores – weeding the garden, pushing a mower over our hilly acreage – and taught us the value of hard work – inside and out. We took turns in the kitchen with her, learning to cook. I was the caramel expert in our house while my brother Steve mastered fudge. Her mantra was simple: You work; then you play. When we fell into bed at night, we were tired.

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