I was homeless and you gave me
A SAFE PLACE.
Here are the words of Jesus my staff and I are focusing on this fall: “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; naked and you clothed me.” (Matt. 25: 35-36)
Not everybody agrees on exactly what Jesus meant by these words: Was he referring to treatment of the poor in general or was he referring only to our compassion for fellow believers? Is this a picture of the judgment at the end of the world? Should you be opening your home to strangers? Are you and I responsible for starving children in third world countries? Who are the sheep? Who are the goats? (See the full story – Matt. 31-46.)
These are questions worth pondering for sure, and as you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts (send them “attention Phil” to email@example.com). For now, while I don’t claim to have the definitive answer as to what Jesus meant, I do know this: God loves the poor. He expects us to love them, as well, and He expects us to demonstrate that love in concrete ways. When we do, we honor Him.
Safety concerns may prevent you from inviting a stranger into your home and wisdom may warn you away from giving cash to a panhandler, but through your partnership with the Union Gospel Mission, you are loving the poor in ways they can experience – hot showers, clean pajamas, warm meals, comfortable beds, and medical care. You are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and welcoming the stranger. Like the Good Samaritan, you are helping to connect people with the care and resources they need to get back on their feet.
We hope you will think of our home as an extension of yours. Come serve a meal or sit down to dinner with the men, women and children who are living at our shelters. Hear their stories. Work in the clothing room. Check-in guests at the Crisis Shelter. Hand out clean towels and pajamas. Extend the love of Christ through conversation and a smile.
Webster defines hospitality as “the generous and cordial reception of guests.” That’s what you’re doing – extending a generous and cordial reception to the homeless.
You know how it seems like you’re always running to the store for the same few things? It’s the same way around here. We just can’t get enough of these items:Read More >
As part of her recovery, Dionne Varney needed to find a new career. Before coming to Anna Ogden Hall, she spent 14 years in the adult entertainment industry. “I had all this experience,” she said, “but I wanted to do something that my family and the Lord and I could be proud of. Bottom line, something wholesome.” Dionne worked with Tiffany Riddle, Director of Vocational Advancement, and determined she had strong skills in customer service, hospitality and sales. Next, they found a match for those skills at the Mirabeau Park Hotel. Dionne interviewed and was hired for a business practicum – a 12-week, unpaid staff position aimed at increasing her employability. As Dionne prepares to move out, she is poised to get a job in which she can “succeed and be healthy” at the same time.
Staff and management at Mirabeau are pleased, as well. “They have had nothing but great things to say about Dionne’s work ethic and professionalism,” Tiffany said. “She has earned an excellent reference.”
Bill and Jan Traynor were mentors before UGM had a mentor program. Several years ago they and other members from their church were preparing and eating dinner with the residents at Anna Ogden Hall once a month. They got to know Jennifer and her children and invited them to church. The relationship blossomed, and when Jennifer moved out, they stayed connected. Bill helped Jennifer create a budget and develop a resume. Jan encouraged her to cook healthy meals and shop for bargains. “She had a lot of inner strength,” Jan said. “It was the other things she didn’t have – the daily life skills you learn growing up.”
When UGM started the Aftercare program in 2010, Bill and Jan helped train new mentors. In time, they took over management of the entire department. Not what they expected their retirement to look like perhaps, but they are passionate about what they do. Having someone walk alongside UGM graduates and encourage them to walk God’s path “is critical to the whole recovery process,” Bill said.
Interested in being a mentor? Contact Bill or Jan for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kate Gibson, 18, has been coming to the Union Gospel Mission to serve meals with her family since she was six years old. “I remember standing on a milk crate to serve desserts, and my sister and brother and I would have competitions to see who could ‘sell’ the best.” Looking back, Kate said, she appreciates that her parents gave her the opportunity to interact with a whole different circle of people than she would have at school and church. “It got me out of my comfort zone.”Read More >