Amanda describes God breaking into her life like defibrillator paddles shocking her heart – a clear death to life experience. For almost a year, she had been walking in darkness – addiction, destructive relationships, homelessness. And in the midst of that darkness, God came to her.
The Union Gospel Mission exists because of an extensive community of people like you.
People who recognize that they have been blessed and want to give back.
People who take seriously God’s command to love the poor.
People who share a belief in the value of hard work and recognize that recovery, getting your life back on track, is hard work.
People who believe a community that cares for the hurting is a better community for all.
Imagine yourself in these real-life situations.
You’re living in your car because you lost your job and your home. You can’t take a shower, let alone print a resume or get clean clothes for a job interview.
You’re sleeping on a couch in a drug house, just living for your next fix. You’ve tried to quit, but you’ve failed over and over.
You’re afraid to leave your abuser because you don’t know where you could go with your kids and be safe.
If someone said you need to change your life, you’d probably agree. But how? Where do you start?
Our beliefs about God and His purposes shape how we serve the poor. UGM is here so people created in His image can experience real change in a safe, healing environment.
We believe no one was created for mere survival on the streets.
It takes five years actively pursuing recovery for an addict to have a strong chance (about 85%) of lifelong recovery.
Five years minus the length of our recovery program leaves a gap of at least three years in which our clients are most vulnerable to relapse.
That’s a gap we’re working to bridge. Just like the program, the transition back into society must consider the needs of the whole person – spiritual, social, emotional, mental and physical – to be sustainable.
More than food, shelter or even the air we breathe, we need Jesus.
That’s why the gospel is the cornerstone of UGM, holding up everything we do and believe. Our need for Him unites UGM staff, residents, volunteers, and partners around the cross – and the empty tomb – of Jesus.
Resurrection (new life) is what makes UGM not just a well-meaning charitable organization but a Spirit-empowered partnership of believers and churches, sharing the good news with people trapped in spiritual poverty and death.
Charity was one of those people.
Here are just a few of the partnerships that helped the homeless at UGM in 2018.
“I can go without. But I will not let my daughter sleep on the streets.”
Kylee shows the desperation and resolve of a homeless mom with a three-year-old.
There are more people like Kylee than you might expect. Homeless families make up 41% of the homeless population nationwide, and UGM shelters about 113 women and 52 children every single night at three locations. Each has a unique story, but there are a few common threads that stand out: domestic violence, addiction, poverty, mental illness, and the tenacity with which any mother can fight for her kids.
“All my needs were met when I got here. The food, the shelter, and the fellowship. … I tried to do it on my own, and I couldn’t do it.” - Mike
Mike Baker is a self-described mountain man who, for a lot of years, preferred the company of trees to people. When he found himself living in his car in North Idaho, the thought of coming to the Union Gospel Mission in Spokane scared him, but the support and fellowship he found surprised and changed him.
As you read Mike’s story, you’ll see some themes common among people experiencing homelessness.
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.
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.