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.