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The Mission – May 2015

by Steve Lee — May 8, 2015





All my life, I was looking for a sense of family that I didn’t get growing up. My parents were real strict and never showed us any love.

So at the age of 14, I rebelled against all of that and found a different “family” — in a gang. And I totally embraced that culture. But while it gave me something I needed, it also meant I got involved in a lot of crime and hurt a lot of people. I did some things that were really hard to live with.




Then I found heroin. Heroin helped numb me out so I could live with myself. But it wasn’t long before it was out of control. I needed heroin just to feel normal. It controlled every aspect of my life and slowly destroyed me. And by the summer of 2013, I was living on the streets.

I needed help.





Then I remembered a radio program that talked about Union Rescue Mission. When I came here in October 2013, I not only had to get off heroin, I was still looking for that sense of “family” — for someone who cared about me, someone who could look me in the eye and say they loved me.

From day one, a lot of people here showed me they cared. But then in March 2014, I got hooked up with a mentor named Clint from Pacific Coast Church. We went to ball games together, went out to dinner, talked over the phone, chatted over email. We talked about stuff we’re wrestling with. He even invited me over to spend the night with his family. That was huge. This guy let me into his most personal space.

In a lot of ways, Clint’s life has been completely different from mine. But learning from him, watching him, I see now that we have even more in common in Christ. Clint has shown me what it means to be a man of God. He loves me, and I know it. And when he looks me in the eye, I see Jesus.

Thanks to Clint — and people like you — I found what I was always looking for.




 











For almost three years, Pastor Dan Anderson and nearly 60 men from Pacific Coast Church (PCC) in San Clemente have built relationships, mentored, and along with your generous support have helped transform the lives of more than 100 guests at Union Rescue Mission. It’s a ministry URM hopes more people — especially people like you — will consider.

It all started in 2011, when Pastor Dan led a group of men from his church to tour Skid Row and URM. “We were blown away. You don’t see that kind of brokenness in San Clemente,” Dan recalls. They were also struck by how many men had lost connections to family, friends, and resources that could change their lives.

Soon Dan proposed starting a mentoring program that would involve building relationships — and friendships — between the men of his church and the men overcoming addictions and homelessness at URM.

They launched the new program with a weekend-long “Iron Man” conference, named after Proverbs 27:17 . . . “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The conference brought together 40 men from PCC and 40 men from URM who worshipped, studied, ate, played, and shared their personal stories with one another. “That weekend not only transformed their guys, it transformed our guys,” Dan says.




After the conference, the mentors continued to meet face-to-face with their mentees at least once a month, and contact one another once a week via phone or email to talk about life, offer advice, hold one another accountable, to cry or laugh together, to encourage one another, and to point one another to God.

“Our guys would say that this is one of the best things they’ve ever done,” Dan says. “It’s not hard. God didn’t ask us to be anyone’s savior. He just asked us to show up. The rest is up to Him.”

Please consider whether God is asking you to “just show up” today!




 










 

Notes from Andy


The Power of Relationships


One of the biggest problems facing people experiencing homelessness is isolation
— from family, friends, and their community. Too often they’re treated like some kind of contagious disease that must be avoided at all costs.

But they’re not a disease. They’re fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. And if we could just learn to treat them that way, maybe we could make a real difference. But to do that takes getting personally involved. It takes building relationships with them — relationships that offer hope, affirm dignity, and restore hope.

I truly believe if we could get every man, woman, and child experiencing homelessness hooked up with someone who really loved and cared for them, one on one — like the men from Pacific Coast Church are doing — we could begin to turn our homelessness problem around.

I like what Pastor Dan said in the article on the previous page. When you meet folks experiencing homelessness here at Union Rescue Mission, you fall in love with them. You begin to see them just as Jesus does. And when you begin to see them that way, you also get a glimpse of how Jesus sees you.

Blessings,



The Mission – April 2015

by Steve Lee — April 10, 2015



Holly’s father was an alcoholic. Her mother didn’t want to raise children and spent increasing amounts of time away from the family. So from the age of 8, Holly was left in charge of her five other siblings.

“I remember telling Mom I just wanted to be a kid,” says Holly, a 39-year-old single mother at Hope Gardens. Holly says she never remembers being kissed or hugged by her mother — and she never heard the words “I love you.”

“I was so hungry for affection,” Holly recalls, “I started looking for a boyfriend when I was 11. I wanted a boyfriend who would love me.”

By the age of 13, Holly started running away from home, staying with friends’ families or living in vacant buildings. Then she discovered alcohol. “Drinking made me feel invincible and like I had it together. Like I could conquer the world. That I was attractive to men,” she says. Unfortunately, the men she attracted were mostly abusive. And alcoholics like herself. “You accept the love you think you deserve,” she says. “And I didn’t feel like I deserved more.”



By the time she was 36, Holly had six kids — all taken away from her and placed in foster care. In 2010, however, she tired of the abuse and alcohol. And she turned to God.

She got sober, got her kids back, and tried to rebuild her life. But in 2012, she and her kids were homeless.

A case worker persuaded her to go to Hope Gardens.

“Hope Gardens was this beautiful, green, healing oasis that sheltered me and my family after this horrible storm of my life,” she says. “For the first time, I felt like me and my family were safe. The staff here were so loving. It felt like family. What family is supposed to feel like.”

Through counseling and various classes that provided her with parenting and financial- management skills; through mentors and caseworkers that kept her on track; through chaplains and Bible studies that kept her focused on God — Holly says she got the parenting and nurturing she never got as a child.

Today, Holly says she’s becoming the “godly woman” she’s meant to be. She’s been sober for three years, she’s working, and her family is now preparing to move into their own apartment again.

“I’m so grateful God brought me to Hope Gardens,” she says. “I have a new apartment, but Hope Gardens will always be home.”












You Give Families Hope Today


by Zach Stratton





The transformation of Holly and her family is truly inspiring. But as a donor to Hope Gardens and Union Rescue Mission, you should know that your support transforms hundreds of families just like Holly’s every year. And that’s a powerful thing.




It’s also vitally important. The growth of family homelessness in Los Angeles is tragic. Thousands of young mothers and children face overwhelming barriers that prevent them from a better life — domestic violence, mental-health issues, addictions, emotional and sexual abuse, lack of education, joblessness, and many more.

Many times they’ve spent months or years moving from couch to couch, shelter to shelter, even living out of cars. These young mothers are so stressed keeping their families going day to day, they have no energy to think about tomorrow.


By the time these families come to Hope Gardens, they’re exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many times they arrive without hope. They need more than shelter and three meals a day. They need a chance to rest, so they can begin to heal and rebuild their families.

And that’s what you give them. You also provide them with classes in financial management, healthy relationships, and parenting. Counseling and therapy to heal past traumas. Education and job training. Case workers like me, who help them find jobs, and housing, and create a long-term plan for their lives. Finally, you give them the chance to reconnect with God and grow spiritually through chapel, Christian discipleship classes, and prayer.


Right now, your gifts are helping to support approximately 60 mothers and more than 100 children. And over the past year, you’ve helped transform the lives of as many as 200 mothers and over 400 children.

They say it takes a village to raise a child — or a family. And Hope Gardens is a kind of village — a village of precious families, a village of caring caseworkers, chaplains and staff, and a village of compassionate people like you. There is no “us and them” in this village. There is only us. Mothers, children, me, and you. And it’s a village that doesn’t exist apart from your support.


Zach Stratton is a case manager at Hope Gardens Family Center. For more information about Hope Gardens, please call 213.347. 6300 ext. 7101 or visit our website at urm.org/services/hope-gardens. 




 











 


Because of You


by Enrique


I struggled with a drug addiction for most of my life. By 2011, it got so bad I was on the streets. When I came to Union Rescue Mission, they helped me get closer to God and taught me how to follow His instructions in the Bible to live a better life.


I’ve learned that I need to stay disciplined in all areas of my life. One discipline that helped me is running. I ran my first L.A. Marathon in 2012 and I’ve run in every one since. Today, everything is going better for me and my family. I am grateful to God there is a place like Union Rescue Mission.




 



Notes From Andy


Transforming Families Today — and Tomorrow




My heart just breaks. The number of children experiencing homelessness in the United States is at an all-time high. In fact, at least 10,000 families are struggling here in Los Angeles alone.

Probably 70% of these precious moms, like Holly, are victims of divorce and domestic abuse. Others struggle with inadequate educational or work skills, and long-term unemployment. Regardless

of the reasons, however, many of these beautiful young mothers are now tragically living with their children in cars, garages, sheds — or worse.

But everything changes when they come to Hope Gardens. Hope Gardens not only provides them with safety, food, and shelter, it gives them the necessary skills they need to thrive. It helps them with relationship issues, provides educational opportunities, offers mental-health care, and trains them to become better mothers to their children.

As a donor, your gifts provide resources for completely transforming mothers and children so they will never again experience homelessness in their lifetime. You give them everything they need to take care of their families today, so for the first time they can begin to dream about tomorrow. I pray God will bless you for it!

Blessings,



URM Easter Sunrise Service!

by Steve Lee — March 23, 2015

Come celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ with all of us at Union Rescue Mission! This is the 4th year we have been holding this event on the roof, and will have our very own Rev. Andy Bales as the speaker!



 

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