The Mission Newsletter – March 2012

How Trust Transformed Terrence

Terrence is 53 years old. He’s never been to a museum or an art gallery. He’s never experienced the joy of a good musical. He’s never taken a cruise. A lifetime of drug abuse and prison robbed him of a simple, good life.

But he knows the story of Easter and its message of hope, resurrection, new life — and a second chance. After all, he was raised by a Christian mother who made sure he attended church every Sunday.

When he came to Union Rescue Mission two years ago, he wasn’t sure whether a second chance was possible for him.

“I’ve been drinking and using drugs since I was nine years old,” Terrence recalls. “I left home when I was 13 and hit the streets where the dope dealers and pimps became my family.”

By age 17, Terrence was selling heroin and cocaine. The money was so good — he had his own Cadillac, furnished apartment, waterbed, tailor-made suits, and carried $1,000 in his pocket. “I was moving fast at that age,” he recalls.

But he was arrested two years later and, between the ages of 19 and 48, he spent a total of 25 years in prison for drug use, drug dealing and transportation, and burglary. When he was released the last time in 2006, he knew something had to change. That’s when he decided to go to Union Rescue Mission.

“When I got here in 2009, I’d never had a life,” he says. “I’d never held a job or got a paycheck! But I was so determined to change, I told my chaplain, ‘Whatever you ask me to do, I’ll do.'” For the next two years, Terrence learned to control his anger, learned more about himself through counseling, learned how to manage money, and even learned more about God and the Bible.

“The single most important thing they gave me is trust,” he says. “When you do as much prison time as I did, no one trusts you anymore. And when people don’t trust you, you start to believe you can’t do anything with your life.”

The Mission proved their trust by giving Terrence several janitorial responsibilities. They trusted him to get things done even when no one was watching. They entrusted him with his own crew — and even entrusted him with the keys to the building.

“Those might seem like small things, but they were big to me,” he says.

Terrence’s work ethic and transformation are so profound, UGL, Ltd., a Fortune 500 company, offered him a position, and now Terrence is looking forward to the next phase of his life.

“Working, paying bills, managing money — I’ve never done those things,” he says. “I’m not the same man I was. I got peace, I got responsibility and a life. I can’t ask for no more than that.”

Easter is God’s promise of new life to everyone who believes. “It means I really do get a second chance,” Terrence says.

Upcoming Easter Events

Spreading His Love Throughout our Community

Saturday, March 31 – Easter Outreach

During this outreach event for the Skid Row community, we will offer live musical performances, free medical checkups, foot washings, and much-needed personal items.

Friday, April 6 – Easter Egg Hunt

Children staying at Union Rescue Mission and Hope Gardens Family Center will receive personalized Easter baskets filled with toys and candy, and enjoy an Easter egg hunt.

Friday, April 6 – Good Friday Evening Service

This chapel service invites all Union Rescue Mission guests to reflect upon the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 8
– Sunrise Easter Service

At 6 a.m., nearly 150 guests will gather on the rooftop of Union Rescue Mission to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

A year and a half ago, the number of people living on Skid Row had fallen to nearly 800. By last fall, that number rose again to almost 1,700 . . . and by Christmas, almost 2,000 devastated souls called these streets “home.”

We have more guests seeking help at Union Rescue Mission than ever before. Like Terrence, they arrive filled with despair and hopelessness, wondering if a second chance is possible.

But there IS hope. When Jesus walked out of His tomb that first Easter, He defeated evil, disease, despair, hopelessness, and even death. We celebrate His resurrection and rejoice in God’s guarantee that we all get a second chance.

And like Jesus, every year hundreds of men and women who once lived without hope leave here with brand-new lives. They are risen indeed.


Rev. Andy Bales, CEO

Read more from Rev. Andy here

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