faith Posts

A Love Made Stronger

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In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I began reflecting on some of the wonderful couples I’ve had a chance to meet at Denver Rescue Mission. I’ve met the Lopez family who just moved into our STAR Transitional Program with their four children – both parents are working and trying save up money. I’ve chatted with couples at our banquet meals downtown who are grateful to have somewhere to go during the day where they can spend time together. Another couple that sticks out in my mind is Denise and Thomas Martin.

The Martin’s met back in October of 2012 and were married six short months later. “We’re always wanting to spend time together,” says Denise.

They’ve had their share of hardships — with Thomas suffering from an eye condition that prevented him from working and Denise battling heart problems and breast cancer. In fact, they were homeless for the first six months of their marriage and had to spend dozens of lonely nights in separate shelters. But, these two always seemed to find a way back to each other and soon they found solace in our STAR Transitional Program at The Crossing. The Martin’s lived at The Crossing for two years and were able to get their lives and health back on track.

Nearly a year after they graduated our program, I caught up with Denise and Thomas to see how they were doing. They were proud to report that they still live in a beautiful two bedroom apartment at Park Hill Station, an affordable housing complex just down the road from The Crossing.

What really strikes me is their steadfast faith. Even when their situation looked dire, they leaned on God, and each other, day in and day out. Denise reports that their health is doing much better and she attributes this to “God’s healing hand”.

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, Denise and Thomas are looking forward to spending a romantic evening together going to dinner and a movie and are thankful to now have a place to call home.

You can read more about their love story in the Mission’s Changing Lives newsletter and listen below to a piece of our conversation. 

As I make my own Valentine’s Day plans with my husband, Matt, and reflect on our three years of marriage, I feel inspired by the Martin’s love for each other and God and will always keep Denise’s words close to my heart…

“Make your priority God and if the other person is making their priority God, you’ve got a good foundation.” – Denise Martin 

 

Conversations About Anything // Brad Meuli

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer & Photograph

Written by Rachel Greiman, Writer & Photographer

This series was inspired by the book Anything written by Jennie Allen. Please follow me as I struggle with life’s difficult questions and walk down the path to find my “anything”!

Brad cried approximately five times during our interview. I say that in a good way. A really good way. His tendency to cry might be my favorite thing about him. I grew up Mennonite. There are lots of great things to say about Mennonites, but their crying is sub par. I’m not used to men that cry. And Brad, like many of the men I work with at the Mission, allows himself to be moved by what happens around him. He has a physical response to the work he does. He is humble enough to know when he is witnessing or recounting a powerful moment. And he reacts. My favorite moment he told me about in our two hour meeting made me cry, too.

“We had a graduation after I had been here just a couple years. A graduate named Robert was sitting right next to me on stage. He looks at the audience and says: ‘Brad, my mom is here. Would you like to meet my mom?’ He had been estranged from his family. After the ceremony, this little woman comes running down the aisle and she embraces Robert. ‘I love you, I knew you were gonna be fine.’ I thought it couldn’t get any better. But it did. He turned and introduced me to her. She hugs me and she is crying all over me. She said, ‘Thank you for giving me my son back.’ And I thought: ‘I gotta keep doing this. This is the greatest thing in the world.’ That’s what we do. We restore families. We give sons back to their moms, sometimes to their wives. And we see lives changed forever.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I chose to interview Brad to kick-off the Conversations About Anything series because 1. He’s the head honcho around here and 2. I wanted to hear how he made the decision to accept his job.

So let’s start at the beginning. In 1987, I was born. That also happens to be the year that Brad Meuli accepted a job as the VP of Commercial Lending at the largest bank in Colorado. It was clearly an important time for the both of us.

Brad Meuli, President/CEO

Rachel Greiman: Were you happy at that job?
Brad Meuli: I thought: “Lord, this is it? I should be happier.” I remember praying: “Lord, I don’t know what you want me to do. But I’m willing to do anything. If you want me to stay in banking, I’m fine with that. But will you just answer this prayer: show me that you’re using me. I don’t want to labor in vain.”

RG: Was that prayer answered?
BM: He began to show me the next day that He was using me. The veil had come off my eyes and I began to see how I was being used in this position. I got involved with Hope Communities, run by a guy from Denver Seminary. I met Del Maxfield [then President and CEO of Denver Rescue Mission] through people in my church.

RG: Did you get involved with Denver Rescue Mission then?
BM: At the time, the Mission was looking for a family facility. We found the building that eventually became Champa House. That was my first time doing development work. I asked the Savings and Loan Association that owned it if we could have it, and they said “yes.” A bunch of people from my church and bank came over and we gutted it. A construction company came in and built it. Then we all came back and painted it.

RG: And then?
BM: In 1988, they asked me to come on the Board of Directors. I said no. Six months later, they asked again. And I said no.

RG: Why?
BM: I just wanted to do projects. I didn’t want to sit in on a stuffy old board meeting. But finally, the third time they asked me in 1990, I thought, “This must be the Lord calling me.” So I came on board.

RG: And the rest is history?
BM: Well, pretty quickly, I became Chairman. I had some wonderful opportunities, not the least of which is this building [current Administrative Office Building]. I found out that a printing company wanted to give a building away, so we applied and we got it.

RG: So you got two buildings for the Mission, for free, before you were on staff. Did you think you were going to become CEO at that point?
BM: I would meet periodically with Del. I loved what the Mission did and he was a good friend. He was getting ready to retire and wanted to put together a succession plan. I don’t know why I said this to him but I asked, “Would the board ever consider me for the job?”

RG: And they did!
BM: They put together a succession plan and looked at other candidates for two years and I put it in God’s hands. I didn’t know if I particularly wanted to run a Rescue Mission. But yes, they did. They hired me on April Fool’s Day in 1999. I was mentored by Del for almost two years and became President and CEO in January 2001.

RG: Were you scared?
BM: The lesson I learned took 12 years, from 1987 until 1999. I had prayed this prayer and felt the Holy Spirit tugging on my heart. The first thing was being willing to do ANYTHING and secondly, was just being faithful and working hard in whatever I was doing. I can see now that my heart had to be changed.

RG: What has this job taught you?
BM: Here, we get to impact people for eternity. Even if they don’t graduate from a program, they hear the word of the Lord and have an opportunity to come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and be changed for eternity.

RG: Do you ever struggle with the question “Am I doing enough?”
BM: For 12 years, I didn’t know where I should go. For two years, I was praying…is this it or not? A small voice in my heart said, “Yes, this is what you should do.” I still hear that small voice now. But it’s not so small anymore. It’s like a big loud speaker. It’s like 70,000 people in a stadium saying that God’s in control, saying that I need to reach homeless people for eternity. God could call me to do something else but I just want to be willing to do ANYTHING that he has asked me to do.

RG: So for me, a 20-something seeking direction, what is your advice?
BM: The Lord is in control and can use you wherever you are. You don’t have to be the President/CEO of Denver Rescue Mission for the Lord to use you.
A couple weeks after the interview, Brad was still mulling over some thoughts and I received an e-mail from him, encouraging me to “be open to how God would lead you today, be sensitive to what He is putting on your heart today…and tomorrow and the next day will take care of itself.” At the end of the e-mail, he told me it was just his two cents. But to me, it’s worth a whole lot more than that.

Brad praying before a banquet at the shelter

Brad praying before a banquet at the shelter

Rachel’s Lens // Losers & Miracles

Written by, Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer

A few weeks ago, I was brought in on a super-secret project here at Denver Rescue Mission. We were having an all-staff meeting and our Senior Leadership team decided they wanted to have a little fun.

They asked a handful of employees to do on-camera interviews about why they love their job. What these participants didn’t know was that our group of senior leaders danced behind them the whole time.

I edited the video down to showcase only their best moves and we played it for the whole staff at our annual meeting. It was a hit! If you’re interested in seeing it, click here.

Though the video didn’t play the audio, the staff was truly speaking from the heart and said some incredible things about their work. Yesterday, I was looking through the videos for some good sound bites and came across Brad Rhoda, the Manager of Operations at Harvest Farm, saying something that blew me away. The man is a poet. I mean, maybe not really, but he probably should be. He was answering the question, “What makes you want to come to work?”

His quote: “I really believe that I work at a miracle – I participate in a miracle every day that I come here – because these are ‘losers.’ These are people that are worthless according to what the world has told them. And that’s a lie. I defy anybody to challenge me on that because all you have to do is look at what we’ve done here, together with ‘worthless’ people.”

I think about all the people I’ve met since working here: staff, program participants, volunteers, donors – not one could ever be considered worthless. Each group is a thread running through this great tapestry, forming a beautiful picture of community. Like Brad, seeing this community come to life at Denver Rescue Mission every day is truly watching a miracle take place. It’s a miracle to watch our participants fight life’s hardest battles and come out smiling.

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!

 

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.

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//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.