We Asked Shelter Residents to Define Grace

Posted by Genevieve St. Martin, Staff Writer Oct 29, 2020 1:41:06 PM

The Union Gospel Mission seeks to provide a safe, healing environment where grace flows freely. 

GRACE IS THE FOUNDATION for everything we do. God extended His grace and mercy to us, and in turn, we seek to extend it to others. Everyone in our community is encouraged to recognize him or herself as a beloved child of God and to embrace Christ-likeness as the standard for behavior. Since failure is an inevitable part of the process, clients and staff are held accountable to each other and must be willing to evaluate their behavior within the community.

Neon-Sign-1Grace may sound like a given among Christians, but it doesn’t always come naturally, and it hasn’t always been the modus operandi in crisis shelters – either here or across the country. Under grace, transformation of the heart is emphasized over conformity to rules. The staff at all UGM shelters have received training from Grace Network International in the implementation of grace-based principles.

A picture of how this grace process works on a daily basis can be seen in the answers given by men and women in our programs.

What is grace?


Steve: “Unmerited favor. A second chance. We don’t deserve anything we’ve gotten. His grace is extended to everyone.”

EXPORTthumbnail_image001-1James: “Humbling. Grace is what I am now compared to what I was. It used to be that I’d rather fight than talk.”

Brandi: "When you're given another opportunity and not looked down upon."

Tom: “God giving me the ability not only to forgive others but God forgiving me as well. As long as God forgives me, I don’t have to worry about forgiving myself. I’ve sabotaged a lot of my relationships and hurt a lot of people, and I have trouble forgiving myself. It’s Psalm 32:1 & 2.”

Jennifer: “Grace means love. Grace means heart. Grace means stout awareness that I will never be done and overcome with sorrow. Grace means I am surely forgiven! Amen!”


Ken: "God’s grace has kept me alive and given me a place to stay with friends."

Scott: “Unmerited, undeserved forgiveness. It means being given the opportunity and the space to recover in a program that is cost-free. This is one of the best, most comprehensive programs around, and it doesn’t cost anything.”

Clint: “Grace is the way God treats us, and the grace-based process means that the whole community treats each other in the same way. Grace has given me a new start and a chance to get started again in recovery. You’re able to expose what you’re working on to the whole community.


Beverly: "Grace to me is love and mercy. Something that can’t be earned, but it is freely given. Because of God’s willingness to extend me copious amounts of grace for my past.  I’m free to start living in a new life of forgiveness with love and mercy. Extending that to others, just as God did for me."

Machen: "Grace is God’s favor upon us when we feel unworthy of goodness. He shows us in tangible ways that we are worthy and deserving!"

Robert: “Grace means to be able to go through life and make mistakes without condemnation. This place is all about healing and growth.”

Larry: “Instead of ‘you messed up; you’re out of here,’ the counselors say, ‘OK, now that you’ve recognized the problem let’s work on it.’”

mark foxMark: "Grace means a person with forgiveness and kindness, willing to help others without question. And always thinking of others first over one’s self."

Lynn: To me grace means a beautiful divine way of being, such as that of God that reflects flowing eloquence. Grace has an ethereal meaning to me.”

Steven: “Grace is a safe, healing environment where you’re able to make mistakes and learn from them . . . just being human . . . where you’re able to be transparent with all the underlying issues in your life. The opposite of a threatening, punishing environment. It means I don’t get what I feel like I deserve.”


"It means I don't get what I feel like I deserve." Yes. We don't deserve true grace, the grace that sent Jesus Christ to die in our place... "while we were still sinning." (Romans 5:8 paraphrase)

Let this be an encouragement today to receive the grace of God and to extend it. Offer your neighbor unmerited love and forgiveness. Offer the needy and the downtrodden grace. Those who are experiencing homelessness often see the worst of humanity. They see our disgust and our pride that says, "Well, if I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps, you can too." Offer them grace

Offer them the chance to heal and start over in a safe and sober environment. 

Save a life this week. $90 provides 7 safe nights.



Topics: grace, transformation, change


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