Growing up in Ghana and spending most of his life as an international seaman, 65-year-old Seth had never experienced an American Thanksgiving before. But in 2015, traveling the United States, tragic circumstances forced Seth to seek help at Union Rescue Mission, where he spent the holiday season.
“I loved the opportunity to spend my first Thanksgiving with so many Christian brothers,” he recalls. “But more than that, it was a day to reflect back on everything that happened in my life and to thank God for protecting me.”
Despite being raised in a large, influential, polygamous family in his native country, Seth says he never experienced real love. The trauma, bitterness, and resentment he felt eventually led him to leave home and seek adventure as a seaman.
Near Death at Sea
The work was often dangerous. Seth was involved in several serious accidents at sea and saw many people die as a result. But in 1994, it was almost his turn. Sailing on a yacht off the coast of Brazil, his captain — who was drunk — accidentally blew up the boat. Without food or water, Seth clung to the boat’s remains for a week before help arrived.
“I prayed the whole time,” he says. “God gave me courage.” He survived, but the trauma was so great, he started drinking and struggled with alcohol for the next 20 years.
“Eventually, I went back to sea. But I could never forget I should have died,” he says. “So I kept drinking.”
In 2013, Seth decided to travel in the United States. But the day he arrived, he lost all his money. For the next two years, he struggled to find work. But he kept hearing God speak: “Just trust me and obey, and I will take your hand.” When he finally made it to Los Angeles, he says God led him to Union Rescue Mission.
Grateful to God
“They gave me food and shelter. Then I started to learn more about Jesus and the true way of God,” he says. “I stopped drinking and my life changed so much. I came to realize that God was calling me to minister to other people. All my life, I wanted to get revenge on my family. But now my plan is to return to Ghana where I can be a blessing to them.”
"In Everything, Give Thanks"
"I know God will never let us down”
I never thought my family would be homeless. But this year, my husband and I, and our three boys, wound up here at the Union Rescue Mission. Last Thanksgiving, we were in our own place. I know this coming Thanksgiving is going to be very hurtful, but thanks to God we’ll have a roof over our heads. I know God will be with us and He’ll never let us down. He might not answer when I want him to. But I know He’ll answer my prayers and we’ll have our own home again.
"I’m thankful we’re all safe”
I’ve been here with my family for about two months. I’m a straight-A student, but my grades dropped when we first got here because I was worried about my family. But now I see God working in our lives and everything’s getting better. This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that all my brothers and sisters are safe and we have somewhere to lay our heads.
"I thank Jesus I’ll live to see another Thanksgiving sober”
I’m 54 years old and I’ve been drinking more than 40 years of my life. In the past, Thanksgiving was all about liquor stores and partying. I’ve been at Union Rescue Mission for over a year now, and this Thanksgiving will be only the second time I’ve ever spent it sober. I just thank Jesus I have a roof over my head and I’ll live to see another Thanksgiving sober.
Rufus lived next to the mortuary that he thought was his next stop, but God wasn’t done with him yet. Watch his incredible story!
Women and children experiencing homelessness are seeking help at Union Rescue Mission in greater numbers than we saw in the Great Recession. The misery they face on Skid Row right now is almost unspeakable. Children see and hear things no child should ever experience, and vulnerable women are threatened by predators night and day. The emotional scars they suffer often last a lifetime. For everyone, these streets are simply a Darwinian nightmare of survival of the fittest.
With Thanksgiving just a few weeks away, it would be easy to wonder how anyone could find anything to be grateful for here. But they do, especially inside the walls of Union Rescue Mission, where they find food, safety, shelter, long-term help, and even love.
But they’re not the only grateful ones. I’m thankful too, especially for compassionate and generous people like you, who make it all possible. Thanks to you, we never have to turn a woman or a family with children away. Thanks to you, every day I see lives transformed and renewed. And thanks to you, every time I see the smiling face of a child in our care, my heart floods with joy. Your partnership with Union Rescue Mission means everything to me.
Please give hurting people a taste of love and the chance to start over this Thanksgiving.
For most people, Thanksgiving is a day of warmth, love, family, and gratitude. But for people experiencing homelessness, it’s too often a day of everything that’s gone wrong. And this year, the growing number of hurting people — especially mothers and children — seeking our help at Union Rescue Mission is heartbreaking!
All year round, your gifts provide these hurting souls with safe shelter, nutritious meals, and God’s care. But this Thanksgiving season, your generosity will provide even more — the hope and courage they need to rebuild their lives.