February 2014 Posts

Rachel’s Lens // Defining Needy

We talk a lot about the needy here at Denver Rescue Mission. It makes sense. Part of our mission is to meet people at their physical and spiritual points of need. But I think it’s very easy to elevate myself to a different category. Surely, I’m not needy. I have a home and food to eat.

And yet…

This morning I listened to a hymn, Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy. Of course, I thought of the people in our shelter and in our programs. But it resonated with me. The posture of my heart shifted: I am needy. I am weak. I am wounded.

I need Jesus just as much as the people we serve.

Shame on me for elevating my opinion of myself. For assuming that having basic needs met disqualifies me from a spiritual neediness.

Someone once said this to me (forgive me for not remembering who): May we reach across to help someone rather than down.

I hope that we can see our own depravity and shortcomings and realize that we are no higher, no better, than the man or woman on the street. That we can stand next to people in unity rather than reaching down to help people up.

Would you join me in acknowledging the neediness in your own life today? The areas you need help in? Where your own strength does not suffice?

I hope this song shows you that all are welcome to share in “God’s free bounty.”

 

Guest Blogger // It wasn’t just one changed life, it was a changed family

Written by Tryna, Mission Volunteer

My experience as a family member starts a few years back. My brother was deep in the clutches of alcoholism, he had hit bottom so many times, it was heartbreaking.  Nothing that any of us said or did could change his ways.  I prayed that he would be safe, that he would have a good life, that maybe I could have a sign that he was OK.

Fast forward past the ugliness of that life a few years –  My Dad got word that he had been accepted at Harvest Farm (a ministry of the Mission).  He kept in contact with him. As part of a healing process to get closure and to ready myself to eventually meet with him, I served at Denver Rescue Mission. I was terrified to look into the eyes of these men that would be in the exact physical and mental place my brother had been. I knew the Lord wanted me to be there. I felt like I was recreating the same scene my brother must have stepped into. I was put at the front of the dining hall and tasked with handing silverware and counting each dining guest at the Lawrence Street Shelter.  I offered a sincere greeting to each person, these men all belong to someone and I wanted to let them know that I also cared.  As the meal progressed, I had some great conversations with these gentlemen. I wanted to give them the same hope that I had for my brother. I have volunteered since and it is always a moving experience.

Three years ago, my brother graduated the program at Harvest Farm. In April 2013, I got to see him again.  I wasn’t sure how the meeting would go. I was scared that it would end up with one of us hurt or angry, like in the past, or worse that the past would be re-hashed to live over again and the anguish would come back.  I prayed so hard and my prayers were answered. As I hugged him, I looked into his clear blue eyes and the hardness and anger was gone and I had my sweet brother with the heart of gold back. I was no longer interacting with his addiction, it was gone. He wasn’t angry anymore and he was back! 

I will always and forever be grateful for the work you do and the lives you change through Jesus. I will never be able to give enough time, money or resources to repay you for this cherished life to be returned to me, my family and those that cherish him.

Rachel’s Lens // More than just a number

Rachel’s Lens // More than just a number

I went down to the shelter last week to take some updated photos. I walked between beds and stood on chairs trying to find the right lighting. Somewhere along the way, I started to envision what it looks like each night as men fill the bunks.

I tried to imagine sleeping there, with hundreds of strangers, and nowhere to go when I wake up in the morning. The feeling was overwhelming and scary.

But I looked outside and saw a flag whipping back and forth down the street. The wind was blowing strong even though the sun was shining. It was going to be one of those bright days that ended in bitter cold as soon as the sun set. I began to thank the Lord that the needy in Denver had somewhere to go that night.

Each bunk has a number on it. I understand why…it keeps things organized. But I want each person who sleeps at the shelter to know that they are more than just a number. I want them to know that when they go to sleep at night, there are people praying for them.

Last night, Denver Rescue Mission housed 932 people in all of our facilities. That is almost 1,000 people that would have nowhere else to go.

When you crawl into bed tonight, would you be intentional? Pray for the man sleeping in bunk 64. Pray for the family who is living together in a room at The Crossing. Pray for a single mother and her children as she tucks them in a room at Champa House. Pray for the homeless women sleeping at Fort Collins Rescue Mission who are trying to piece their lives back together. Pray for the father at Harvest Farm who is trying to overcome an addiction.

Let us, as a community of believers, pray for the people in our city who need hope tonight. Let’s look beyond our homes and onto the streets. Thank you for your diligence in service, support and prayer.

Inside the Lawrence Street Shelter

Inside the Lawrence Street Shelter

Welcome to America // The Refugee Program

Can you imagine having to flee your own country, leaving everything you love and are familiar with? Now imagine that you are forced to leave because of race, nationality, religion… Doesn’t sound fun. Like at all. In fact, it sounds terrifying!

Hundreds of refugees come to Denver seeking new opportunities to start a new life with their family. The problem is that most refugees don’t speak English, or know how to find housing, or simple things we take for granted like grocery shopping and using a dishwasher!

Denver Rescue Mission partners with Lutheran Family Services to help provide stability and friendship to refugee families but we do this with your help. How you ask? By matching mentors with refugee families who are making America their new home. By fostering meaningful relationships that cross cultural barriers. By giving refuges a friend to walk through this new life with.

So, what do you say? Will you help a family who was forced out of their country find peace and hope right here in Denver? Will you become a mentor and friend?! Let’s WELCOME these men, women and families into our country and into our lives.

refugee welcome

Interns welcoming a new family to America!

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How to help: Become the first U.S. friend to a refugee family relocating to Denver. Join this amazing opportunity to guide a family from a country such as Burma, Iraq, Sudan or Somalia in their adjustment to life in the U.S. For more information, please contact Tom Leavitt at TLeavitt@DenRescue.org or José Kabeya at JKabeya@DenRescue.org.

Rachel’s Lens // I Get to do This

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer & Photographer

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer & Photographer

Last week, I wrote about going to the IF: Gathering. And let me tell you what: it’s been a whole week and I still have yet to come up with a solid takeaway. It’s as if we were all bombarded session after session with separate revelations. Each speaker brought more impact than the one before. It was like listening to all the powerhouses of our generation just slam dunk the truth.

That sounds dramatic, I know. And I’m absolutely prone to hyperbole, but the words I have are not sufficient for the awesomeness of last weekend. I could listen to every speaker seven more times and still come out with a new idea each time.

For now, I’ll focus on what applied directly to my work here at Denver Rescue Mission. Jen Hatmaker (who I would really like to be my best friend someday) jokingly but honestly talked about feeding the poor and caring for the widow and the orphan. My own paraphrase of her words:

“I used to feed people God’s Word. And I used to care for the spiritually orphaned. But then God said, ‘Ya know what Jen? Sometimes, people just want food, to put in their mouths and chew. And orphans? They are actual orphans that need parents.”

She talked about how, with her husband, they began to pull on the thread of injustice that ran through their own city. It started with feeding homeless people, and then becoming concerned with the working poor, and then single moms, and then refugees…until they felt led to adopt from Ethiopia. Twice.

There were many themes throughout the weekend, but the one that resonated with me  most was the power of relationship. My pastor always says, “Significant change can only come through significant relationship.” And it’s true. We busy ourselves with this idea that if we serve often enough, we’ll change people’s lives. But it’s more than that. It’s a personal investment in them. Jen said, “Their hurts need to become your hurts. This life is not an easy one to live, but we get to do this.”

We get to do this. We get to influence others. I don’t take that  lightly. We get to work for the Kingdom of God, carrying out His commands on earth. I may be on emotional overload, but this weekend rejuvenated me even more for my work at the Mission. I literally come to work each day saying, “I get to do this.”

Let us not forget this privilege we have in Christ.

worship led by aaron ivey

worship led by aaron ivey at IF: Gathering

The Corn of Valentine’s Day // What do you love?

Written by Valerie, PR Intern

IMG_8597Valentine’s Day can be corny, sure. It can be sentimental and mushy and a lot of kids will embarrassingly avoid any and all declarations of love. Not the kids at Champa House or the Denver Broncos Youth Center at Denver Rescue Mission, though. After they wrote what they love on colorful paper hearts, we have evidence that our kids love the corn of Valentine’s Day._MG_2321They also love their family._MG_2307And ice cream shops._MG_2292And football._MG_2302Ray is a nature guy at heart. _MG_2310And Emily loves formula! IMG_8607The kids in our programs are learning to do more than merely declare love with markers on construction paper, though. In 1 John 3:18, the apostle John tells the church, “My children, let us not love with words or in talk only. Let us love by what we do and in truth” (NLV). Similarly, these children are all about showing God’s love through the little things they do!

After his first picture accidentally came out dark and blurry, Benino paused his computer game in the middle of his free time in order to pose cheerfully and patiently for a picture._MG_2336“We often see kids use their Bronco dollars [“play” money used to purchase items as part of an incentive program that encourages them to make good choices and manage money] to buy each other birthday presents or give their friends extra Bronco dollars because they can’t afford something in the youth center Broncos store,” says youth coordinator Joe.

The kids also regularly welcome volunteers, who spend hours pouring into them, by treating them with joyful respect.

“I can spend every day teaching them the alphabet and numbers, but if I don’t teach them about the love Christ has for His children I’m not living out what we’re called to do as Christians. I had the class memorize Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” which I have seen reflected in their hugs, kisses, and words with myself and volunteers,” says Hayley Faith, Children’s Coordinator at Champa House.

Ray played a board game with volunteers for most of the afternoon after they’d helped him read a book and do his homework._MG_2284They’re taking the smiling, patient, big love of God and applying it to their lives through their actions. When Chad, the youth program intern, announced that it was time to clean up, Jaydon quickly volunteered to vacuum the carpet.cleaningAt Denver Rescue Mission, we’re helping kids realize that love “in truth” is a willing and operative grace. It’s about serving those around you and declaring that love in your words and actions, even if it means being corny on Valentine’s Day!cornIMG_8587 IMG_8590 IMG_8592 IMG_8599 IMG_8600 IMG_8601 IMG_8603 IMG_8604 IMG_8605

Guest Blogger // #MissionVolunteers

I “met” Jessica Martin on Twitter  after she tweeted:jessica martine I love when people share their volunteer experience, whether on Twitter or Facebook, because volunteers are crucial to the work we do. We love our #MissionVolunteers.

Jessica wrote a blog post about her experience for us today! Enjoy!

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AP Restoration Employees Serving at the Mission

AP Restoration Employees Serving at the Mission

AP Restoration is dedicated to giving back to the community and this year has placed a strong emphasis on combating hunger and assisting those affected by the disastrous 2013 floods.

On January 31st our group volunteered at Denver Rescue Mission as part of our focus to donate $40,000 back to the Mission, Weld Country Food Bank and Food Bank for Larimer County by the close of 2014.

We received a warm welcome upon arrival and were immediately put to work! The supervisors and team members answered questions, gave clear direction and were thoroughly pleasant and dedicated individuals that made us proud to have taken time to participate. This group takes organization to a whole new level! All of the moving parts were moving in perfect concert.

It was a grounding experience to spend a portion of our day with those struggling to make ends meet. I know that several of us will not only return as a group to volunteer, but also individually.

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If you want to guest blog about your volunteer experience, please email me at AStorvik@denrescue.org. I’d love to read it!

Connect on Twitter using #MissionVolunteers

@DenverRescue or @FCRescueMission (Fort Collins Rescue Mission)

Rachel’s Lens // IF:Gathering

I’m heading to Austin this weekend with some dear friends to find the answer to a very important question:

If God is real, then what?

It shouldn’t be heavy or emotional or anything. I joke. It should be all of the above and I’m ready for it.

A group of women in Austin had this dream for a gathering of woman that is unlike the tea parties and retreats that so many of us have been to. The conference is called the IF:Gathering and some real powerhouses are speaking. One of them is Jennie Allen, who has gotten lots of attention here on the Mission’s blog. Jen Hatmaker, Esther Havens, Bianca Olthoff…the list goes on. These are spiritual giants to me. Big dreamers with big hearts. The women who have created this new space for questioning and growing are women who I have looked up to for so long, in some cases for years. I feel so honored and privileged to go learn from them and I’m hoping that I can grasp onto even just a small portion of their humble love for the Lord that accompanies such huge dreams.

Check back here next Friday to read all about the conference or follow the hashtag on twitter for live updates this weekend: #IFgathering.

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via IF:Gathering Facebook

 

Mission Employee Interviews // Meet Aric

(Written by Valerie, Public Relations Intern)

Processed with VSCOcamHelping people move in. Conducting drug tests. Settling arguments. Handling paperwork.

These tasks are all part of the day’s work for Aric Wauzzinski, a Facility Assistant (FA) at The Crossing. As an FA, Aric is on the front lines of the Mission, making sure things run smoothly at a facility that houses about 500 people.

After packing his bags and moving here from Indiana, Aric became an Youth Intern at Denver Rescue Mission. Three years ago, when his internship ended,he knew he wanted to work here full-time. He’s been an FA for one and a half years and loves it. It’s a job that continually reminds him of the miracle of Christ’s transformation in peoples’ life.

“When you least expect it, when you’re having a bad day, you’re reminded of why you’re here and why God brought you here,” he says.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes participants aren’t used to the structure and policies that are part of life at The Crossing. This can present a challenge when implementing rules which are meant to help people.

The great conversations he has with participants on a daily basis keep him encouraged and energized when dealing with obstacles.

“To be quite honest,” Aric says, “It strengthens my faith too because you see how Christ is working in people.”

Aside from positive conversations, another perk of life at The Crossing is getting to go on field-trips, like when Aric accompanied the New Life Program participants on their rafting trip.

“90% of those guys had never been rafting in their life and seeing their excitement and reaction was really cool,” he says.

Overall, the best part of his job is seeing people graduate, Aric says without hesitation.

He continues, “People completely change their lives going from homeless and drug-addicted to getting a new life in Christ.”

He gets to see first-hand the miracle of transformed lives, the blessings that pour in from the outside and gets to work closely with great supervisors (shout out to Jeremy Stubbs!) and a great team.

“I work with the best people in the world. I know that sounds corny, but I really do. That’s part of the reason I’m still here. They make everything that’s negative turn into a positive. So I just really love the people here: the participants and the staff.  And that’s really the highlight of my job,” he says.

Nothing to Fear

For the last twelve years, I have served as the  Chaplain for the House of Representatives. I pray each Monday, and the weekends before, I prayerfully consider what I God would have me say. I want you to know, for the first time in twelve years, I had to rewrite my prayer after watching last night’s Broncos’ game – it did not go the way I thought it would. I bleed orange…

The quote I chose is from Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…”

The Prayer
Father it has been so much fun to enjoy the Denver Broncos this season. We are thankful that we have come together as a community over something like football. Uniting in orange, has made us appreciate each other more, has strengthened our resolve, and given us hope. I pray today Lord that we would find refuge in you, that you would provide our strength, and that we could unite within these walls, once again, in the common cause of serving this great state we are so privileged to live in. Because of you, we have nothing to fear.

We ask these things in your great and glorious name.