Called to Cook
Thanks to generous people like you, men like Larry will discover God’s perfect recipe for a transformed life this Thanksgiving season.
They say everyone has a spiritual gift. Mine is cooking — though I didn’t know it until recently. For more than 50 years, the only things I ever “cooked up” were drugs, alcohol, and a wrecked life.
The child of an alcoholic, suicidal mother, I grew up rebellious and angry at the world. I started drinking and using drugs myself at 15. I also carried a knife and gun wherever I went, and I never hesitated to use them. Thankfully, I never killed anyone.
I refused to let anyone tell me what to do. Not even my wife. But I never expected her to leave me. When she walked out in 1999, it devastated me so bad I gave up on life, and for six years I lived on the streets of Pasadena.
Then I met Andy Bales.
Andy was ministering out of Lake Avenue Congregational Church at that time. I’d never met anyone who cared for me like he did. He never gave up on me. One day he said, “Larry, you’re a good man.” No one had ever said that to me. Then he asked, “Are you ready to change your life?”
I was ready. Andy introduced me to Jesus and gave me my first job as a cook. And later, when he started working as CEO of Union Rescue Mission, he invited me to start cooking here, as well.
Today I’m the head chef at the Mission, and I’m responsible for serving 3,500 meals every day to all the men, women, and children who seek our help. This November will mark my sixth time preparing a Thanksgiving feast at Union Rescue Mission for nearly 4,500 at one time! And no one is more grateful than me.
I’ve never been to cooking school. No one ever taught me how to cook. But God has given me a gift for it. And I’m never alone when I do it. It sounds funny, but when I’m cooking, the Holy Spirit shows me exactly what I need to do — and it works.
But as special as cooking here at the Mission is to me, what matters more are the men who work with me. Most of these men wrecked their lives just like me. But not only has God given me the privilege of training them to cook, I also get to share my own experience with them and show them how good God is and how to keep Him in their lives. Cooking great meals, helping men discover the Lord’s recipe for a great life — these mean the world to me. God, the Master Chef, is truly good.
Spare Change for a Special Thanksgiving
Union Rescue Mission will serve more than 80,000 meals this Thanksgiving season, and your spare change will make a huge difference. Just go online to download a special Savings Jar label at urm.org/savingsjarlabels. Then attach the label to the biggest container you can find and collect change daily. Then send a check for that total amount to Union Rescue Mission!
Serving Up New Life
I first met Chef Larry at a small ministry I once ran in Pasadena called Villa 500. I could tell immediately he was giving up on life. And I couldn’t let him.
He started helping me cook meals, and we became instant buddies. As I got to know him, I discovered a kind, gentle, caring soul with a lot to give back. So when I came to Union Rescue Mission, I invited him to work in our kitchen. Today, he not only cooks our meals, he shares his life with other guys and gives them hope that they can make it too.
This Thanksgiving will mark our sixth together, deep-frying almost 500 turkeys all night long to serve nearly 4,500 precious guests seeking a holiday meal.
At Union Rescue Mission, when someone asks for our help, no matter how hurt or damaged they are, we see the possibilities in them. We offer them hope and give them every opportunity to succeed. You never know when you’ll find another Chef Larry.
Andy Bales, CEO