Eleven years ago, my life was dramatically changed by the onset of chronic illness. It flipped my world upside down and is a battle that I struggle with every day. During this, however, I have found some rich blessings. One of the treasures that I have found is a new understanding of prayer. When I could do nothing else, I could still pray. In the middle of the night, when pain kept me awake, being able to talk with God changed my whole perspective.
I realized that it was the times that I felt most helpless that I was most powerful because I was trusting in the power of One so much greater than me. Prayer doesn’t have limitations. 3,000 miles is nothing. Life and death and disasters and tragedies cannot stop prayer. Injustice, war, and evil itself cannot stop prayer. Homelessness, illness, and trauma cannot silence prayer as, often, it is in the depths of life that our cries for ourselves and for others come most purely and most powerfully. It is when we have no words to even lift in prayer that God’s own Spirit intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.
We need prayer. We need people to pray for us, but I have come to understand that even more, we need to pray for others. It is in that continuing conversation with God that our hearts are expanded to embrace others in need and expanded to receive the comfort and strength of God in ways that we could never imagine.
Over this summer, I would ask you to include the City Mission staff, homeless guests and board members in your prayers as often as you possibly can. Pray that our residents may be given strength, direction and hope in this time of crisis in their lives. Pray that our amazing staff might be uplifted and encouraged as they give so much every day to help others. And please pray that our Board of Directors may continue to be given wisdom and strength as they continue to help guide the ministry through the challenges and opportunities ahead.
And I promise, I will pray for you, that you may know the Lord’s renewing strength and comfort to meet your challenges and needs. As we pray together, we will find that our relationship with God will grow stronger, and we will continue to see amazing things happening in the lives of those for whom we pray.
By: Andrea Starn, community member
What’s your favorite “ticking-time-bomb” movie? You know, the one where an unsuspecting victim is counting on a valiant hero to show up just before a digital display, on an explosive device, hits zero. I recently re-watched Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock in “Speed”. It ranks among the best of the genre because Dennis Hopper’s portrayal of one especially bad, bad-guy plants 5 separate bombs before the end credits roll. It’s also tops because it’s especially effective in showing the unique stresses felt by each individual trapped on a bus that will explode if the speed drops below 50mph. We love ticking-time-bombs….for two hours or so….and when popcorn is involved.
I was recently told, “You have a ticking-time-bomb in your mouth.” The dentist didn’t want me to delay seeking out a root canal, so he chose the very specific warning. It worked and I began to faithfully take an infection fighting prescription and to quickly look into my options for the procedure. In the process, I considered what it must be like to live with other sorts of ticking-time-bombs. Can you begin to imagine the prolonged stresses of homelessness? To be entrapped by a virtual ticking that never stops?
Sometimes the ticking is counting down the impending doom of a fragile physical ailment…or possibly marking the moments before an emotional or mental implosion. Many residents come to the City Mission with a trail of relationships that hang by a thread. The anxiety of financial stresses can combine with the painful remnants of friendships and family ties which have been severed. I’m sure some residents arrive with a clock that has been running very low when it comes to the “minutes” still left in their spiritual faith in a loving God.
I like to believe that the Mission’s tireless efforts are able to lessen the anxieties for those who seek out help there. Like Keanu Reeves stepping with a badge of authority into a dangerous situation, the staff can speak peaceful truths which drown out incessant ticking. With no dental insurance and a dangerous infection, it took a team of family members, generous professionals, and even a former co-worker to aid me and solve some of my timely problems. What a blessing to know volunteers, staff and donors combine resources at the Mission. They take heroic action, diffusing dangerous situations each day for residents.
Ticking-time-bomb situations should only be entertaining at a movie theatre. When we encounter real-life scenarios, let’s equip ourselves with compassion and work together to alleviate the stresses of others
“Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control.
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”
-Horatio G. Spafford
Written by: Lisa Crawford, community member
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” Ecc 3:1
This passage in Ecclesiastes seems particularly appropriate as we anxiously await the arrival of spring. Winter always feels like a long season but this year felt like it would never end with its grey and damp pervasive presence. Despite how long any season feels, it is an inevitable fact that it will end. This is true of the seasons of our lives as well. During particular pleasant seasons of our lives it can be easy to say ‘God, please let this season remain.’ But the truth is that without the change of season, growth cannot occur. Each season has a purpose in our lives—spring brings new life, summer is vibrant and beautiful, autumn gives opportunity for reflection, and the winter gives us time for rest. Trusting God’s greater picture and knowing that He not only is the author of our story but the one who shepherds us through it allows us to journey on without fear.
In my current study of the Old Testament, I am reading example after example of God calling someone into a season of uncertainty—Jacob, Joseph, Noah, Moses, Aaron, Joshua—and the list goes on. Every time I read their stories two things occur to me: 1. What tremendous things God accomplished through those He called! 2. How doubt in God’s provision can creep into even the staunchest believer during difficult times. Time and again we witness God’s faithfulness through a season and yet when we enter a new season, those old friends ‘doubt’ and ‘uncertainty’ make an appearance. Thankfully, God is faithful and true and His promises are everlasting. He does not abandon us in our weakness, rather He carries us through it. For whatever season you are in I leave you with God’s promise to Joshua:
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
by: Joy Barger, Community Member
I scrutinized the list of names to see if I recognized any of them, but I did not. It was a list of 116 individuals with their last known addresses whose checks had been returned to a local electric company as undeliverable.
Under the title “Unclaimed Capital Credit Checks” was a plea for anyone who knew them to provide their current address. If I had known any of them and not notified the company or the person, I would be guilty of showing unkindness to someone who might need that check, whether large or small.
But why bother when I have so many other things of my own to do? The golden rule says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yet self-centeredness can cause me to do nothing.
An even greater responsibility that Christians have is to share the gospel. Many people don’t know about the wonderful, eternal gift that is theirs for the asking. It is not a gift that must be earned, but an offer purchased by the Lord Jesus Christ and given to all who will accept Him.
Putting the offer in only a few words, the Bible says, “For God’s so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not parish, but have everlasting life” (John 3: 16).
To further help us understand, the Bible also says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5: 8). The gift being offered cost Christ His very life.
The Bible also says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and not that of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2: 8-9). Our works can’t satisfy a holy God.
We all know people who are unaware of God’s great offer to them. Let us not be selfish and keep the truth of God’s wonderful gift to ourselves. Share it with someone soon.
By: Herb Ragland
(Source: Paul J. Twist)
By: Wendy Tong, Findlay City Mission
This past summer, during the Hancock County Fair, the fair offices graciously afforded us not one booth, but two booths to accept non-perishable food donations. For those of you who are not aware of how it works, I will explain. Each year, we are given tickets by the fair office to pass out to anyone who brings non-perishable goods to our City Mission booths. We give out a ticket for each item donated. With that ticket the donor then exchanges it for a ride ticket at the fair ticket booth. We have done this for the last 4 or 5 years. Each year, the amount of donations that we receive gets larger and larger. As we grow our services at the City Mission, we are feeding more and more people each year, so we are beyond thankful to receive such a wonderful blessing from those who give at the fair.
Having two booths means that we have to double the number of City Mission volunteers for this event. Last year, we were graciously approached by two different community outreach groups. One was the Findlay Service League and the other was Chive On NW Ohio. Both groups did quite an amazing job! They worked in two hour shifts the entire day. We even had one guy that volunteered and he came all the way from Dayton. But each one who came and volunteered was incredible.
My point is that there are good people out there in this world who have a giving heart and want to serve and they don’t know how. They are not entirely sure of what we do here at the Mission and they don’t know how to get involved. Hopefully, I can clear up some of those things below.
The City Mission is an emergency shelter for the homeless in Hancock County and the surrounding area. We also provide lunch and dinner daily to residents and community guests. We have served almost 40,000 meals in 2017 and approximately 60,000 meals last year. We house men, women, & families. We have more than tripled in size since 2015 when we reopened the Mission after our building expansion. We have program managers who help connect our residents to necessary local resources. They work very hard in getting our residents back on their feet. We also volunteers serving in our kitchen and food distribution center each day to help the Mission run smoothly.
It’s not an easy task. We are working hard at striving to keep people off the streets and when we think about it, it’s like the body of Christ with all its moving parts. The passage that comes to mind is:
12 There is one body, but it has many parts. But all its many parts make up one body. It is the same with Christ. 13 We were all baptized by one Holy Spirit. And so we are formed into one body. It didn’t matter whether we were Jews or Gentiles, slaves or free people. We were all given the same Spirit to drink. 14 So the body is not made up of just one part. It has many parts.
15 Suppose the foot says, “I am not a hand. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 16 And suppose the ear says, “I am not an eye. So I don’t belong to the body.” By saying this, it cannot stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 God has placed each part in the body just as he wanted it to be. 19 If all the parts were the same, how could there be a body? 20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.
21 The eye can’t say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 In fact, it is just the opposite. The parts of the body that seem to be weaker are the ones we can’t do without. 23 The parts that we think are less important we treat with special honor. The private parts aren’t shown. But they are treated with special care. 24 The parts that can be shown don’t need special care. But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. 25 In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part share in its joy.
27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.
The saying, “It takes a village to raise a family” – it sure does! The volunteers are the hands of the City Mission. Without volunteers we cannot function! Think about being the helping hand for the people who we strive to serve!
For more information on volunteering, please visit our website https://www.findlaymission.org/our-needs.htmland scroll down to see our volunteering needs. Contact our volunteer scheduler, Bob Barr (firstname.lastname@example.org), with any questions.
By: Brandon Montague
With the fresh start of 2019, the beginning of a new year, come the typical “new year, new you” pledges that we tend to make to ourselves. Most often, these New Year resolutions focus on improving our overall health or are contrived in order to break a bad habit or two. We generally concentrate our efforts toward self-improvement and, usually, this change is short-term. We try hard to set personal goals that are long-lasting, but the statistics show that, in America, over half of men and women who try for long-term change are doomed to fail by the middle of the year.*
So, then, how are we able to obtain a permanent change to our daily lifestyle? How can we make these New Year resolutions with confidence, knowing that the results will stick with us for longer than 6 months? What are some steps that we can take to guarantee a lifetime of better health and a higher quality of life?
From my life experiences, and from what I have seen happen in other people’s lives, a successful change comes about when the following short list of items takes place:
There are other ways to successfully achieve the results of your New Year resolutions, but these three are vital to more permanent life change. This is why I believe a person must only need these three items:
Follow these three ideas and your New Year resolutions are as good as gold! I have seen these three ideas serve several of the homeless men and women that have come through the doors of the City Mission, too. Those who are struggling and in need of a hand up have put their faith in God’s ways and not their own. Often-times, the reason why he or she has needed our services is because they have tried their way instead of seeking God’s way. They stay committed to the goals that they make while at the City Mission and they continue to persevere no matter how difficult it may be. They work hard to better their circumstances in the time they are given to stay at the shelter. Lastly, they find support in the Mission staff, local churches, friends that they meet from work, or elsewhere. This is where they draw their daily strength…from the love and encouragement that they receive from these individuals. And they realize they were not created to be alone, but to be in relationship with others who can help them and who they can help, too.
* Cited from https://proactivechange.com/resolutions/statistics.htm
"City Mission is my happy place." I hadn't expected these words to come out of my 17 year old son's mouth the other day, but as I considered his words I agreed wholeheartedly.
Four years ago, our son, Ian, needed to get service hours as part of his High School requirement for graduation. We had made donations to the Mission in the past, sporadically, but had never volunteered. It was unfamiliar and, although I'd faced challenges in my life, homelessness was not one of them. I think I was afraid that I wouldn't know the right thing to say, and that, in my ignorance, I'd end up saying something foolish and hurtful to someone who was already struggling with life issues that were bigger than I could imagine. My son was also unsure of what it would be like to volunteer, but this service requirement moved him out of his comfort zone and his bravery challenged me to step out and volunteer.
We volunteered to prepare and serve a meal in the kitchen and from our first night on, we were in love with the Mission. We feared we would experience sadness and an atmosphere of hopelessness, but what we actually encountered was joy, hope, and compassion from the minute we walked in. We saw joy in those volunteering as we were warmly welcomed and directed quickly to jump in and start helping. The night was marked with gratitude, respect, and laughter from those serving meals and those receiving them. Clearly the difficulties of hunger and homelessness were present, but something greater was at work - God.
In the simple acts of feeding, nurturing, and comforting others, we too were fed and strengthened. It was not that our efforts were perfect - they were not (says the woman who dropped a whole tray of dishes on her first night)! In fact, the joy we experienced had nothing to do with our efforts, and everything to do with God's Spirit at work. God's Grace and God's timing are perfect. I am reminded of that every single time we get to be at the Mission.
Over time, we've been privileged to invite folks to come and experience serving with us. Each time they remark how special it is to be at the Mission and they look forward to coming back. If you've not had an opportunity to volunteer recently, I strongly encourage you to contact City Mission. My son and I invite you to come to our "happy place" and to bring others to experience it with you. May God bless you richly, even as you bless others by your serving.
Peace to you and yours in this season of thanks.
Author: Andrea Starn
We find that the term “Last Days” covers the entire period from the first to the second advents of Christ (Heb. 1: 2). Noted also is defection and apostasy, among other things, will characterize that entire period (2 Tim. 3: 1). Therefore the presence of apostasy is not in itself indicative of the end of the Church Age however, the increase of this activity is. As a condition, apostasy is both present and future, when the climatic apostasy will occur that leads to the religion reign of the man of sin during the Tribulation period (2 Thess. 2: 3). Consequently it is not surprising to see apostasy becoming more widespread as we draw nearer to the Tribulation Days.
The apostle John gives us two characteristics of apostasy. They include (a) a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity (1 John 2: 22-23), (b) a denial of the doctrine of the Incarnation of Christ (1 John 2: 22, 4: 3; 2 John 7). And the apostle Peter gives us a third (c) a denial of the return of Christ.
Finally, with the lifestyle characteristics of apostasy we find a decline in eighteen morals as listed by the apostle Paul (2 Tim. 3: 1-5). Those being love of self, love of money, a spirit of pride, blasphemy, disobedience to parents, lack of thankfulness, lack of holiness, lack of natural affection, unceasing enmity so that man cannot be persuaded to enter into treaties with each other, slander, lack of self-control, savagery, opposition to goodness, traitors, headiness (rashness or recklessness), high-mindedness, love of pleasure, and a pretense of worship without godliness of life.
Though these events do not sum up the future pre-tribulation pre-millennial events they none-the-less should help us to have some frame of reference for all the upheaval around us. Moreover, we do not have to go off into some half-cocked ism as if it is the sole problem in the world today. On the contrary, knowing these facts should help us to remain well grounded in the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge, the fear of the Lord, and with righteousness.
Author: Herb Ragland
For several years our church acquired food from the West Ohio Food Bank to distribute to those in need in our community. Six months of the year, on a Saturday morning, we transformed our fellowship hall using long folding tables to help create a line/path for the crowd which formed. I was often placed at a special section of this length of tables. By the time folks reached me, they may have been waiting nearly an hour, but I tried to add a bit of cheer by re-welcoming them to the food pantry. My cheeriness was aided by personal items we hoped would be a blessing to their recipients. For weeks we would collect supplies not normally provided at other local distributions. Laundry detergent, shower gel, combs, brushes, toothpaste, etc. As our visitors reached this portion of the line it seemed their spirits were buoyed by options which ministered to their dignity. They were able to choose which three or four items they needed the most and they could be somewhat selective as to brand, color or scent. As they passed by the twelve foot length of my station, I enjoyed our conversations but when there was a pause, I was careful to put my hands on the table and to notice its width.
Thirty inches….that’s the width of your typical church folding table. “Thirty inches….that’s the difference between being a giver and being a recipient”, is what I could hear in my head. I hoped my soul would be ingrained with that short span of white mottled plastic resting between myself and our visitors. I knew I would minister best to those in need when I could perceive how narrow the gap was that divided us. At that time in my life, I hadn’t experienced a major medical emergency, an unexpected job loss, or a devastating natural disaster. It was important to remind myself that any one of the three could land me on the opposite side of the table. It’s another version of the old saying try to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”. But, don’t worry about the mile, let your heart reside in that 30 inch span I’ve described just awhile longer.
Fully taking to heart the 30 inch span improved my life as a giver. When I went shopping for the personal items we gathered, I would pray for a nudge toward something unique. I’ll never forget shopping one day in the midst of cold season, walking the aisles with my own scratchy throat. It occurred to me how blessed I was to have a throat lozenge tucked in my pocket….and how others might not have the resources to deal with a minor illness. I threw a couple of bags of cough drops in my cart. Fast forward a few days to our distribution. Many people walked by our “personal items” table and there were no takers for my purchase. Then a woman approached the table and reached for the cough drops explaining how grateful her husband would be when she returned home with them!
It’s been a few years since we’ve distributed food in such mass quantities. We now take reservations for food boxes ahead of time and do our own shopping for every item. We try to let the “30 inches” mindset inform our choices. We still use those folding tables. But now I have experienced “unexpected job loss” from that crisis list above. I’ve been humbled having to “switch sides of the table” so to speak, although I still would not compare my discomfort with the deeper needs of our patrons. I’ve been so grateful for those who understand the very short distance between where they stand today, and where life could place them tomorrow... standing with me on the opposite side of the table. They've been my most compassionate and generous helpers. I’m really blessed beyond measure, especially by the valuable lessons gleaned from across a table.
Author: Lisa Crawford
Many people think of the homeless as chronic drunks and bag ladies drifting about but many of the homeless are not chronichomeless. Many find themselves suddenly homeless and need help to recover. There are many people who make barely enough money to handle day to day expenses. When their car breaks down, it may drain money needed for rent or a severe illness or loss of job may cause them to be off work for a prolonged time. As a result, they cannot pay the rent and are evicted. Others may find that the landlord has sold their apartment and the new landlord evicts them so he can remodel the apartment.
These individuals often have no reserves to handle the sudden expense of car repairs or medical expenses and have no funds to cover the rent and utility deposits needed to move into a new place. I am reminded of one lady who was referred to me for help. She had lost her apartment and, though she found another, it was going to be a couple weeks before the current occupants cleaned and moved out. She had no relatives who could help so she had to move into a motel. However, the cost of a motel was far more expensive than rent and her money soon ran out, leaving her no choice but to turn to the City Mission of Findlay to stay until the apartment became available. Once the apartment was vacated, they asked me for help finding someone to help her move in.
As families have fewer kids and are widely scattered across the globe, and as more choose not to marry, many find themselves with no one to help them in time of need. God calls us to be a father to the fatherless and a defender of the weak. He has raised up organizations like the City Mission of Findlay to help in time of need, but the need is great and they cannot do it alone. Ask God if He would have you support the Mission or a similar organization with your time or resources.
Read more blogs from Robert Barr
Author: Robert Barr, Findlay City Mission