“There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
I hear that statement – generally attributed to a 16th century evangelist named John Bradford – all the time. According to tradition, Bradford was watching criminals being led to their execution. The expression has lasted for close to 500 years because it hits on a basic truth: We are not all that different from the people panhandling on our street corners and filling our prisons. If not for God’s grace, we could be standing in their shoes, and the grace we have been given, we are called to share.
When we truly understand the gospel, we understand that everything good in our lives is a gift. Take my life for example. Because my father chose as a young man to give his life to Christ and married a woman who loved God with all her heart, my brothers and I were raised in a Christian home with values based on the teachings of Scripture. My mother prayed for us consistently throughout her life. We were taught to work, to love our neighbor, and to give generously to those who had less than we did. I grew up in a small town and had teachers, coaches, pastors and Sunday school teachers who encouraged me. I had the opportunity to go to college. I am who I am today because of the people who cared about me, believed in me and invested in my life. Had I not had all these gifts, I might have been a very different man. When I recognize God’s abundant grace in my life – knowing that I did nothing to earn it or deserve it – I am compelled to extend that grace to others.
At the Mission, grace takes the form of food, clothing, shelter and medical care, but more importantly, we seek to manifest God’s grace by creating an environment like the one described above – one which communicates to residents that they have value, that people care deeply and that life can be more than mere survival.
Through your partnership, we are inviting the poor and homeless of our community to partake of God’s abundant grace. Together we are saying, You are loved. Come into our home. Here, you will find healing and hope and the strength to begin again.
Because of your involvement, we have a highly skilled, compassionate staff and the resources to re-create some of what I experienced as a natural part of growing up. While nothing can ever make up for the neglect and abuse many of our residents have experienced, it is never too late to be introduced to – and changed by – God’s unconditional love. Thank you for making that possible.