March 2013 Posts

Easter Devotional // Spirit of Hope for a Season of Change

Written by Lon Gregg, Spiritual Director at The Crossing

Earlier this month a visitor — a lady whose son is in serious trouble with addiction — stopped by to tour The Crossing, Denver Rescue Mission’s transitional living facility. She came out of motherly instinct; she wanted to find help for her boy, and had heard stories about the Mission.

The woman later wrote to thank us for the tour. Her comment: “The feeling of HOPE was almost tangible in that place” (her words and emphasis, verbatim).

Of course, places like Denver Rescue Mission are designed for hope. How can people change without it? We’re glad she sensed it at The Crossing and we’re glad we have it to offer. Everybody needs hope: her son needs it, she needs it, we all need hope, and we need it every day. What joy to have a place where we can give it away!

In this lovely season, when we’re celebrating the resurrection of our Savior, we have every reason for hope. New life is budding everywhere after the long cold of winter. People are outside, soaking up sunshine after huddling for months, wondering at times if warmth ever really existed! And of course, the empty tomb of Easter, Christianity’s cornerstone, breathes hope into many a hurting soul, hope that God can still reach down and touch the deep hurts of the world.

Of course, true hope is more than just wishing. If it’s founded on good reasons, hope becomes something more like “expectation.” Any young man will hope more firmly for a car his dad promised if Dad is a millionaire. And our lady visitor can hope almost tangibly for redemption for her son when she hears the many stories of transformation for which the Mission is justly famous.

Mine is like those stories. I found a new life many years ago at Pacific Garden Mission, a mission in Chicago very much like the Denver Rescue Mission. In my own case, I had wandered away from a good family and prospects, but at the mission I found a hope that has endured the decades since, including the two decades (plus) I’ve spent serving in Denver. And the years have steeled my hope into expectation. I would be foolish not to recommend the Christian hope to everyone!

I hope for you that this season may bring you a refreshed hope. May the good graces of Easter touch and fill you with all the joys of new life. And may that joy endure!

 

Rachel’s Lens // I’m tired and my feet hurt – but it’s worth it

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

Today was Denver Rescue Mission’s Annual Easter Banquet. I had been hearing from other staff here that this was the “big one.” I assumed I was an old pro after photographing both the Thanksgiving and Christmas Banquets last year.

But I was wrong. I had grand ideas that I would come back to the office fresh-faced and rejuvenated, ready to give you all a 1,000-word sermon about the Easter season.

This will be my third and last paragraph. We fed more than 730 people, which meant that I was chasing them around asking for photographs all day. I’m tired. And my feet hurt.

Please enjoy this photo of our Vice President of Finance & Administration, Dave Schunk, selflessly washing the feet of Edith, a lovely woman who enjoyed a meal today at our shelter. I was so encouraged to see our fearless leaders serve in this capacity today!

Speaking of fearless leaders…apparently, Josh Geppelt, Director of the Lawrence Street Shelter is an old pro at these things. He was all smiles after a successful day!

Love Was Waiting Just Around the Corner… He Just Had to Make it Past the Crossroad

Written By Danielle Charbonneau Public Relations Intern

I’ll admit it… I’m a typical girl when it comes to a good love story. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy spends life looking for long lost love, boy finds girl through a series of miraculous coincidences followed by an epic reunion, a sappy song and a walk off into the sunset. It’s the plot of about a million Hollywood Rom-Coms and yet, somehow, it never gets old — just ask Nicholas Sparks.

But besides reading the synopses at your local Redbox, it’s rare to read a story packed with so many fateful turns and climactic romance…especially one that’s actually true!

So while many of you may have already read about Robert & Shelly in our most recent Fort Collins Rescue Mission newsletter or the Coloradoan,  I’d like to take a little more time in the space-unlimited blogosphere to tell their story with a few more of its fascinating twists.

So at the risk of being redundant, I present the unabridged tale of Robert & Shelly, a story that shows how God is at work at every corner, beckoning his children to the right places, at the right times.

——————————————————————————————-On a cold night in October, Robert stood at a crossroads. He had been sober for nearly 13 years having seemingly conquered a life burdened by addiction. Yet, in spite of his sobriety, life was hitting an all-time low. He was out of money, out of work and lost his home. The urge to throw in the towel was strong – grab a bottle of booze, camp below the bridge and give up on the sober life that, in this moment, didn’t seem to be paying off.  But he knew he’d be re-surrendering to addiction and dereliction and who knew how low that would take him. He was left with a choice: go back to his old ways or seek help at Fort Collins Rescue Mission.

He chose the second. Little did he know, a miracle was waiting just around the corner.

——————————————————————————————-

This story involves many corners. The first, 13 years earlier when Robert met Shelly – the love of his life. They met with a crash: rounding a corner, colliding and smashing Robert’s groceries. She offered to replace his milk. He asked for her number. Neither knew it was the start to an epic love story.

Robert soon became a father figure to Shelly’s kids and after three years of dating, the two set a date to be married. Unfortunately the couple struggled with addiction and in a brave act of self-preservation, Shelly called off the engagement three weeks before the wedding.

“I knew we were going to destroy our lives,” she said. And it seemed next to impossible to get off the sinking ship together.

They remained best friends for about a year, but due to a violent ex-husband, Shelly left the state in fear for her kids’ safety. It seemed that perhaps their relationship was not meant to be.

Yet they both still loved each other. And Robert clung to that love. He got sober two months after the dissolution of their engagement and joined a traveling carnival, searching for her in each city for the next five years.

“I used to go to different states looking for her. I would ask people if they had seen her, look for her in the phone book. I was working 16 to 18 hours a day… I would never stop looking for her though,” Robert said. “I’d search online but I never found anything.”

Finally, in 2003, Robert left his job on the road, went home to Indiana to be with his family and put the search on hold. It resumed in 2008 when he moved to Michigan where Shelly used to take her kids camping.

“I thought, maybe she’ll be up there. But she wasn’t. I couldn’t find her,” he said. His love of the mountains brought him to Loveland, CO in 2010, but some troublesome roommates who were abusing drugs, coupled with a lack of job opportunities, prompted him to move to Fort Collins in 2012. But Robert had more trouble finding work in Fort Collins than expected and he lost his housing in October. Hope was dwindling.

“I had nowhere to go. I was walking the streets, trying to find a job. Every day it was getting harder to stay sober. I could walk into a bar and take a drink at any time, or find someone that had drugs,” Robert said. “It was hard to be on the streets and not go back to my old ways.”

He entered Fort Collins Rescue Mission’s  Steps to Success program on January 8th, hoping to find the support he needed to find work again and stay clean.

——————————————————————————————-

After fleeing from her ex-husband and leaving Robert behind, Shelly and her kids moved out of the state and in with her father in-law whom at 78, needed caring for. She got sober in 2004 – the day before her 40th birthday – and mothered her kids until they were all grown up.  As an empty-nester, Shelly missed Colorado so she made it back to her beloved Rocky Mountains in September of 2011.

She became a live-in nanny in Denver for a friend, but when this friend failed to pay her and another acquaintance robbed her of her belongings, Shelly found herself homeless for the first time.

“I was terrified,” she said.

She found help at Fort Collins Rescue Mission just four days before Robert.

The two unknowingly slept under the same roof in different wings of the building.

——————————————————————————————-

On January 9th Shelly and Robert rounded another corner. Just like the first time, they collided. This time Shelly dropped her purse.

“Excuse you,” she said.

“Excuse you,” he said.

Not recognizing him, she gathered her things and scurried off.

“That’s not who I think it is,” Robert thought. They both felt a strong sense of recognition, but neither of them identified one another. Shelly had dyed her hair and lost a significant amount of weight. They were both sober and healthier than before. Yet, they were both struck with such a strange sensation of familiarity.

The next day they connected the dots: Shelly was yelling at someone in Spanish, Robert recognized her accent. He called her by her old nickname – “Shell Shock?” he said.

“Anthony?” she responded in shock, calling him by his former name.

They were reunited at last.

They spent the next few days exploring the city awestruck by their fateful reunion. They had lively conversations, catching up on the years lost and reminiscing. On January 12th, as they sat side-by-side reading books at the library, Robert sent Shelly a text.

“Honey, will you take my last name?” it said.

She said yes.

“It feels amazing,” said Robert. “I always knew we were meant to be together. Our heavenly Father brought us back together. He pointed me in the right direction to where I could find her.”

“I’ve never been happier. I’ve never felt more safe and secure,” said Shelly. “We’ve already been at the lowest points in our lives and we’ve made it through. Can you imagine what we could do together with Christ in our lives?”

Both Robert and Shelly knew before their reunion that God had a hand in their lives, but they had no idea the plans he had for them. At a time when they both thought they were hitting new lows, becoming homeless and entering the Mission, God had something good in store – a blessing in disguise.

——————————————————————————————-

Looking back, Robert sees his decision to take the right path at a fork in the road as a critical turning point in his life – one that had him round a corner into a future beyond his wildest imagination.

“I hung on instead of straying from the path,” he said. “And look what happened?”

Both Shelly and Robert plan to continue their individual Steps to Success programs at Fort Collins Rescue Mission where they both hope to continue to learn how to live stable, self-sufficient and sober lives.

How they envision the future:  “Sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs getting old together.”


Guest Post // The Dream

// Written by Joe Mudd – Denver Rescue Mission foot washing volunteer //

Over the past few months I have had this recurring dream that while walking down town Denver I came across this older man sitting on the curb. I felt compelled to go over to him and asked if I could wash his feet with the water bottle I had been carrying. He said yes and began to cry as I washed his feet….. I would then wake up with this wonderful feeling that God was pleased with me.

Over the past year my heart has been stirred to get out of my comfort zone and just focus on loving people and helping them on there spiritual journey. I am open to wherever and whatever God has in store for me. I must admit, it’s a little exciting preparing for a journey that I have no idea what it is.  I do know as long as I seek Him…. everything will turn out just fine.

___________________________________________________________

//John 13: 12-17 //

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Foot washing from Denver Rescue Mission’s 2012 Easter Banquet

Denver Rescue Mission, Volunteers of America and Runner’s Roost Denver are partnering to feed approximately 600 homeless and low-income men, women and children this Easter. The 20th Annual Easter Celebration at the Lawrence Street Shelter will be held on Friday, March 29. Worship, communion and foot washing are offered out of humility and love. Each guest receives a new pair of shoes and socks, with the option of a foot exam administered by medical professionals.

 

 

 

Rachel’s Lens // Mile for Mile

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

This week, I’ve been visiting my family in Pennsylvania. My little sister is getting married tomorrow, so I’ve been hanging lights, cutting out bows, baking brownies, and drinking gallons of coffee with little sleep. It may sound tedious and busy, but it’s been wonderful. I’ve had the chance to spend my sister’s last days as a single lady by her side.

One thing that she asked wasn’t so fun though. She wanted to be in shape for the big day, so asked me and all my sisters to join her in running a half marathon. So, last Sunday, we bundled up and headed to Delaware to run 13.1 miles. I was NOT looking forward to it. Two weeks ago, on my last training run, I decided that I needed a plan to get through it. I had heard about people using long runs to pray and thought, “Why not give this a try.”

But I couldn’t decide who or what to pray for. Then it hit me. After interviewing an awesome woman for a story at work last week, I realized that I’ve interviewed 13 people so far while working at Denver Rescue Mission. So I spent the first three minutes of each mile praying for the incredibly strong people that I’ve had the privilege to connect with over the past five months.

my family!

Mile 1: I prayed for Dallas, an ex-addict I met at Fort Collins Rescue Mission who has overcome trial after trial in his life. He has finally found sobriety and feels like the people at the Mission are the first to ever care about him.

Mile 2: I prayed for Eddie, a chef at Fort Collins Rescue Mission who is putting his life back together through the Steps to Success program.

Mile 3: I thought of our Emergency Shelter guests, up to 150 men on the coldest nights. I prayed that the shelter will be more than refuge from the cold, but the first night of a new beginning for these men.

Mile 4: After chugging some Gatorade, I remembered Fedline, a young, strong, single mom who earned a spot as a Dental Assistant and received her driver’s license in a matter of months. I praised The Lord for His providence in her life.

Mile 5: I prayed for Angeline, Fedline’s two-year-old daughter. I prayed that she will always know her mother for exactly who she is: a strong woman who loves God and fought for a good life for her family.

Mile 6: The Fort Collins Rescue Mission is Denver Rescue Mission’s newest facility and the staff there are working tirelessly to keep it running well. I prayed for strength and wisdom for the men and women who work to change lives in the name of Christ there. I thanked Him for their servant hearts and passion for Fort Collins.

Mile 7: I thought about and prayed for Ida, the first woman I ever interviewed for our Family and Senior Homeless Initiative newsletter. She sat in her chair with her Bible, quoting scriptures and praising God. Her kidneys were failing but she had nothing but positive things to say.

Mile 8: I prayed for Latrice, another person from our Family and Senior Homeless Initiative. She is expecting her second child in June and just moved into her own home. I prayed for a healthy baby and that Latrice will continue to grow and thrive in her church community.

Mile 9: At this point, I was praying for my cramping hamstrings and my aching knees. But I also lifted up Monique, a single mom who just found housing and is working through some difficult times. I prayed for clarity, strength and support around her.

Mile 10: I smiled as I started this mile, remembering Robert from Fort Collins. He didn’t stop smiling for a second while I interviewed him. He glowed with joy next to his new bride the whole time. I prayed that his marriage will make him stronger and that he will continue to work with such excitement for his future.

Mile 11: Shelly was next, Robert’s bride. I prayed that she will support Robert in his successes and hold his hand through his trials. I prayed that she will be able to reconnect with her children.

Mile 12: Praying for Tim got me through this very difficult mile. I thought about him at work, operating all the heavy machinery, beaming like a little boy. He takes such pride in his work and I prayed that all of our program graduates will find that joy.

Mile 13: After a high five from my sister for making it to the final mile, I prayed for Towai. I prayed that he will continue to flourish in his position at Goodwill and that he will be able to find a community where he can serve others as he so deeply desires.

I finished. The half marathon was significant for so much more than a long run. It reminded me of all the people who have shared their story with me and once again, it gave me the chance to marvel at the work God is doing in Denver.