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Go and Do Likewise: a heart-to-heart message from Phil Altmeyer

“But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”  (Luke 10:33)


Phil-Heart-to-Heart

Although the paths that brought Debra, Bennie, and Sabra to our doors were different, I’m struck by what they had in common: they’d each reached a place of desperation from which no amount of white-knuckled determination could pull them out. Bennie said it best: “When you’re at the bottom, it’s impossible to think about changing everything. It’s overwhelming.”

Most men and women who come to UGM don’t just have a singular problem; they’re overwhelmed with problems. Just like everyone else, including you and me, their lives are complex. Many have ongoing legal battles, lost paperwork, lost IDs, medical and financial issues, relationship problems, and intertwining layers of trauma, poor choices, and negative consequences. Add an addiction to that and the chances of climbing out on your own are slim.

There’s no easy solution to a life riddled by such complexities, but one of the benefits of a long-term program like UGM is the chance to take a step back and start facing those challenges one at a time. That’s why UGM LIFE Recovery is at minimum 18 months long. It takes time to peel back the layers, open up in community, and allow healing to happen. If you try to tackle everything at once, you’ll inevitably be defeated time and time again. 

In a similar way, you and I can get overwhelmed by the enormity of the homelessness crisis on our streets. Many of us witness homelessness, addiction, and panhandling every day. We may ask ourselves if anything’s working or if it’s even worth trying to effect change. 

What I want you to see, though, is what I have the privilege of witnessing every day: people walking through our doors saying yes to change. I see the Debras, Bennies, and Sabras, the ones who reach a place of desperation and say, “I can’t do it on my own. I need help.” And, thanks to you, when they make that decision, there is a place they can come that’s clean, safe, sober and has everything they need to build a new life. 

 

“Your partnership reminds me of the Good Samaritan.”

 

Your partnership reminds me of the Good Samaritan who went to the inn and paid the resources to take care of the man by the roadside. He took pity on him, poured oil on his wounds, set him on his donkey, and got him the care he needed. When Jesus told this parable, He asked those who had challenged Him, “‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10:36-37) 

Let it be said of us that we did likewise. 

 

 

This article was also published in the September 2023 Mission News.

View the print version of the September Mission News.

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