“People have all kinds of excuses for why they won’t help folks on Skid Row,” says Burlyn, a 60-year-old guest at Union Rescue Mission. “Some of them are afraid and too intimidated to get involved. Others don’t want to know how bad it is, so they just ignore it.”
Burlyn knows all about excuses. He spent more than 30 years of his life addicted to cocaine — and more than 30 years excusing it.
“I came from a good family, so I knew better,” he says. “But when I picked up cocaine in 1983, I couldn’t stop. I had all kinds of excuses: I always worked, so I can’t be that bad. I might be an addict, but I’m not as bad as that guy in the streets. Or when it got really bad, I thought, I messed my life up so bad, there’s no point in quitting.”
But he says there was always a voice in the back of his mind that nagged him, “This isn’t the life you want to live.”
Refusing the Call
In 2012, he finally listened to that voice and broke free of his addiction. Once free, he heard God’s call to minister to others like himself. He even went to school to prepare. But when he left, he found new excuses: He wasn’t smart enough to help anyone, or he was already so broken, God could never use him.
So, Burlyn came to Union Rescue Mission to keep from ending up on the streets. He thought he was running away from God’s calling. Instead, he ran straight into the calling God had planned for him all along.
“I’m All In”
“I could tell right off, Burlyn wanted to serve,” says Chaplain Mike McIntire. “He just needed to stop making excuses and get serious about serving God right here on Skid Row.” So Chaplain Mike hired Burlyn to work alongside him to help other guys in the program.
“I couldn’t run away from it anymore,” Burlyn says. “If God wanted to use me to help these guys, then I’m in.”
True to his word, Burlyn has thrown himself into serving hurting men at URM. Without any judgment, he listens to them, he cares about them, and he shows up every day to remind each one that they’re truly loved.
Skid Row Needs You
He would also like to see more people, including donors, get more personally involved.
"Their donations are really important to keep this place open,” he says. “But Skid Row needs more than money. People here need to see Jesus in the flesh. They need to see people like you and me show them they’re still loved. That someone still cares, and that they can trust that we’re never going to abandon them. That’s when lives change down here.”
“They’re just lazy.” . . . “They’re on the streets because the weather is so nice.” . . . “Jesus said, ‘The poor you will always have with you.’”
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9th Annual Spring Golf Classic
May 16, 2016
As we wrap up the Easter Season, I find myself reflecting back on our celebration of Easter, better known as Resurrection Sunday, at Union Rescue Mission. On March 27th I was asked once again to deliver the annual message at our Sunrise service on the Union Rescue Mission rooftop. The message-He is Risen-He is Risen indeed.
It was quite an honor to celebrate Christ's resurrection on our rooftop, but to tell you the truth, we celebrate the power of the resurrection every day at Union Rescue Mission. It is celebrated through scripture on our walls, through songs and messages in our chapels and bible studies. Most importantly, we celebrate the power of resurrection through the transformed lives of our precious guests.
Join us today and help more people experience the power of resurrection, escape poverty and find their way home again.
God bless you,
Rev. Andy Bales