As you probably know, I have a bold faith in God and count it a privilege to witness the miracles He performs in the lives of people at Union Rescue Mission each day. This past year, I’ve also been humbled and amazed by God’s miraculous handy work in my own life.
About this time last year, I was a very sick fellow. Struggling between a damaged heart, and nearly failed kidneys, I was stuck in a bit of a twilight zone. Any procedure that could repair my heart would have completely wiped out my kidney function. I was hanging on, doing my best, just barely staying off of kidney dialysis thanks to a very strict diet I’d maintained for two difficult years.
Then, on June 29th, 2012, after helping our team raise $5.8 Million in the last 40 days of the fiscal year, I had a heart attack, and actually, experienced heart failure. My only option was a quadruple bypass. One group of doctors felt I was too high a risk, but a courageous doctor, Dr. Randall Roberts, took a chance on me, and successfully performed the life-saving quadruple bypass. I was able to bounce back quite a bit, attend a URM Board meeting after 16 days, and was back to work full-time approximately one month after surgery. The life saving quadruple bypass, however, helped lead to the eventual demise of my kidneys, and after finishing last place in a long charity bike ride, I knew that it was time for dialysis. I began dialysis on October 2nd, 2012. I continued working each day and spent every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening from 6 PM to 10 PM on dialysis.
I did this for 4 and ½ months, and I was prepared to carry on like this for quite awhile. However, my dear wife, Bonnie, stepped forward, was tested, and found to be a near perfect match for me. That was a near miracle in itself. She tested as if she were my daughter or my sister. On February 13th, the day before Valentine’s Day, Bonnie provided to me the gift of life through her kidney, and another bold doctor, Doctor Jeffrey Veale, took a big chance on me and placed my dear wife’s kidney in me. I was in the UCLA hospital for only 5 days, and the day I was released, Bonnie, a friend and I walked 3.2 miles around the Rose Bowl. We did that for 8 days in a row. I returned to the work that I love at Union Rescue Mission 3 weeks and 2 days after receiving the kidney. This may be a new world record, and another miracle recovery, as the previous record was 6 weeks and the norm for returning to work after a kidney transplant is 3 months.
While I was in the hospital, unable to sleep, late one night, I signed Bonnie and me up for the Rose Bowl Reverse Triathlon, just 4 and ½ weeks after our surgery. Bonnie thought that decision was silly and premature, but when race day came, we both completed the event and Bonnie was 10th in her age group and 2nd among all of the women entered in the swim portion. After 11 weeks of recovery, I feel like a brand new man. My numbers show that my kidney is functioning like a normal healthy person’s kidney. The numbers also show my bad cholesterol is low and my good cholesterol is high! My hopes are that any heart damage or clogged arteries are reversing and getting healthy too!
I know this is all due to God’s grace & goodness, your prayers, bold doctors, caring nurses, and my own tweaks to an extremely disciplined life style. However, none of this would have been possible without Bonnie’s sacrificial gift of love to me.
That is why I am writing to you, today. I want to share with you, some other, much more important numbers, for Union Rescue Mission. In order to stay healthy, whole, transform lives, & move ahead with our goals, Union Rescue Mission needs some sacrificial gifts of love. To be all that we can be to our guests, and to reach our goals for this year, we need each of our contributors’ active participating in helping us make up a $1 Million gap in our budgeted revenue, and in the next 50 days ending June 30th, we need to work together to raise $5.5 Million. If we are able to do this together, these are some of the bold actions we can take in this year and next:
- Continue to house & serve 810 precious men, women and children each night
- Continue to feed 2000 precious souls each day
- Continue to provide medical services, dental services, legal help and mental health counseling to hundreds each day
- Bring Hope Gardens, Gateway, Women’s CLDP, to 95%capacity & renovate all living quarters at URM’s Hope Gardens Family Center-adding 12 to 20 more units for precious moms and children currently on Skid Row
- Develop Women’s Recovery Program for 40 women on par with Men’s 1 Year Christian Life Discipleship Program in every aspect
- Launch a jobs program that connects 30% of URM grads with Employment, including the hiring of a jobs developer, jobs assessor, and we are proud to announce that we’ve hired a director of Social Enterprises and should launch a Thrift Store this year that will help provide, sustaining income for URM, job training for our graduates, and jobs for our graduates.
- Develop a stronger training program for staff, managers and Senior Leadership Team
I want to encourage you, do not be daunted by the $5.5 Million figure above, nor the few days left in our fiscal year! Together, last year, we raised $5.8 Million in the last 40 days of 2012. Remember, we believe in miracles. I believe in miracles.
If you love our precious guests, and appreciate the life transforming work that URM does, it is not so important the amount that you give today, but that you join many others in giving. Together we can reach our goal and move ahead boldly with this life changing work and these life saving goals.
Your co-worker in Christ,
Rev. Andy Bales