Where Change Begins

Posted by Union Gospel Mission Nov 13, 2019 8:51:00 AM

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?


When they get to UGM, usually people have very few resources left: They’re out of money, they’re cut off from friends and family. They’ve lost jobs and housing, served time, been sick. They’re exhausted, hungry, and cold.

The idea of a changed life might seem so far away that they have no idea how to take the first step.

Thanks to your partnership, our job is to help them do that. UGM is a place where change begins.

 

Providing an environment for change

“I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” – Matthew 25:35

For people in crisis, change begins with the simplest of things: something to eat, a clean and safe place to be.
UGM is here to provide a safe and healing environment for change. Before anything deeper can hold their attention, people need to:

  • satisfy hunger and thirst.
  • be protected from the weather.
  • rest and sleep without fear of being harmed or having their possessions stolen.
  • separate from relationships and addictions that have led them into desperation.
  • have practical opportunities to contribute to the community.

Because of lifelong health issues that limit his ability to work, Mike has been homeless off and on for two decades, even before he broke his back in 1997 and began using a wheelchair. Out of options, he came to UGM.

“This is probably about the best shelter in the Northwest. It’s clean. They feed good. People who want to work can usually get day labor and I’ve also heard of people getting permanent jobs.”

Mike is working to secure Social Security income and permanent housing. He can concentrate on such an involved process because he’s in a safe place that accommodates his most basic needs.

For people in crisis, change begins with the simplest of things: something to eat, a clean and safe place to be.
Laundry, showers, and suitable chores also promote the sense of dignity and self-worth that jump-starts deeper
changes.

 

Christ, the source of change

As Lexi is learning, change happens through understanding and living in Christ’s forgiveness for all our past sins and mistakes.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His
grace that He lavished on us.” – Ephesians 1:7

If meals and beds must come first chronologically, chapel and spiritual care are first in terms of importance at UGM. We believe communicating the deep, deep love of God is absolutely key to beginning a process of change from the heart.

Coming to UGM from a life filled with trauma, it was crucial for Lexi to know and experience the unconditional love of Jesus. Accepting His grace and salvation at the Crisis Shelter was the foundation for her desire and motivation to pursue change in her life.

“I am learning what it means to be a disciple. Everything’s just blossoming open. … I have to ask myself all the time, what would God’s child do? I’m kinder. I’m caring. I’m starting to deal with a lot of the trauma I’ve experienced. Redemption is way more than the law. It’s denying the flesh and carrying your cross and learning what that really means.”

As Lexi is learning, change happens through understanding and living in Christ’s forgiveness for all our past sins and mistakes. When our identity and our faith are in Jesus, they are unshakable even when circumstances are difficult, even when we continue to make mistakes.

 

Relationships, the means of change

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

Many of the underlying causes of homelessness – dysfunctional families, abuse, cycles of poverty and addiction – have their own roots in broken relationships, and the consequences are heartbreaking.

But we believe relationships are also God’s instrument to change people. Healing comes from connection and sharing God’s love with one another. Homeless or housed, we all need that.

Healthy relationships are the way God has provided for us to experience joy and meaning, to fill our need for love and belonging, to challenge us to grow, and to hold us accountable for our choices.

For Phillip Reese, who completed the recovery program this summer, relationships are key to repairing the damage childhood abuse and neglect had done in his life.

For Phillip Reese, who completed the recovery program this summer, relationships are key to repairing the damage childhood abuse and neglect had done in his life.“I've been very intentional in moving toward learning how to do relationship in healthy ways. … Being connected to other healthy people is vital to my recovery.”

Phillip works at UGM Motors and values the relationships there. They provide not only ongoing acceptance and
encouragement, but accountability – a commitment to speak even difficult truth with love into his life.
“When I started working here, I just fit right in. People were just like, ‘Hey, come on in here. We know where you’re coming from. And it’s what we’re here for. We're here for people like you.’ … If I were to go work somewhere else, I would have to explain all this stuff: ‘Hey, I’m in recovery, and you guys need to watch for this, and I need to make sure I'm not isolating or whatever it might be.’ But here, it’s like they’re already there. They’re already up to speed.”

No matter where he works, Phillip doesn’t want to take those relationships for granted. He knows his time with UGM is only the beginning of a lifelong pursuit. 

“Stay in the herd and stay on the path. I have to be in community and I have to be in relationship.” – Phillip

Click here to partner with the area of ministry that means most to you through UGM's Holiday Gift Catalog

 

Topics: homelessness, change, featured, real people real change

Click here to see all articles for the November 2019 issue.

 

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