Monday, August 12, 2013
Never in my life did I imagine I would be line dancing to the Cupid Shuffle in a prison courtyard surrounded by barbed wire and 590 inmates.
But this unreal situation is where I found myself one weekend last month. Thankfully this was a voluntary trip with the Bill Glass Weekend of Champions, a prison ministry that has been active for over 50 years. Women from all over the country, including three other interns from The City Mission, had signed up to share the gospel with those incarcerated in the Cleveland Northeast Pre-Release Center.
I’d never participated in prison ministry before and I was nervous. I’m only nineteen years old and I’ve lived in a suburb’s suburb my entire life prior to this summer. What would I have to offer women who had seen and been through so much more than me?
When we pulled up to the towering chain link fence my fellow interns and I were quickly buzzed in to join our group. It was explained that the next two days would be identical: sit with the women and listen to the Bill Glass platform speakers and then simply speak with them about what we had just heard and where they were in their walk of faith.
Walking into the courtyard was intimidating. I had no idea who to speak with first, so naturally I walked up to a woman with a puppy. It turned out that she had been a professor at a prominent college when she was incarcerated for drunk driving. I was surprised by how she automatically launched into the moment that brought her there. The puppy was part of a seeing-eye dog training program.
Over the two days I listened to women tell me their entire life stories. I was amazed by how willing they were to share their journeys and hopes with me, and also how similar they were to me, my friends and family. Every woman could have been my sister, roommate or someone I knew from high school. Most had a family and children they wanted to get back to and do better for, and several were seeking the Lord. I was able to encourage women, no matter where they were with their faith, to actively pursue a relationship with God – not simply make it a religious activity. And the best part of that was that my words were not my own.
I was not straining for questions or responses or compassion. Instead I was able to be used by God simply as a listener; someone who asked these women to think about the changes they would make in life in order for things to be different after their release. The Lord allowed me to forget about myself and what I would say next for two days, which is something I struggle with constantly. Being young is not a problem if relying on God for wisdom is your solution.
It was difficult saying goodbye on Saturday night. We sang together and embraced those we connected with in that short time. It is strange making such a strong connection with someone and then realizing that you will probably never see them again. A few of the women I met have been on my heart daily since that weekend, and I pray that though I may not see them in this world, we will dance together again in heaven.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
In my life I have run nearly 400 races, but today’s was different. I stepped up to the starting line, sun becoming hot in the early morning, temperatures and anxiety rising. The crowd was chatting excitably and lunging out their pre-race jitters. I positioned myself a few rows back from the front, surrounded by some of what were sure to be some of the fastest finishers that day. Animals, all of them. By animals I mean the lions, tigers and bears we were about to race by in the Cleveland Metroparks zoo, where the course for the Running with a Mission 5K was located. As the New Media Intern for The City Mission and a track and cross country team member at my college, I jumped on the chance to compete in a race where I could support the Mission and gauge where my summer training would put me in the pack.
This past fall after a frightening post-race black out and subsequent doctors’ offices and medical tests, I was diagnosed with a hyperthyroidism. The best option was to undergo a short radiation treatment and wait to see if my full health came back. Unfortunately, this meant light training and definitely no racing. Six months later, by the time I took my last round of blood tests, my thyroid levels had completely balanced out. The doctor told me that he had never seen anyone react as successfully without some sort of medication to accompany the radiation. Through the prayers of my family and friends I had been healed.
Running with a Mission was a blast. Somehow, Moondog was the wildest animal on the course, and intermittent fans and exotic birds cheered us on through the zoo. It was one of the most energetic and well-organized races I had ever run, but these observations were not the most important parts of the day.
I finished, still standing, with my fastest time since high school and first in my age group. These are three things that last fall I never thought I would accomplish. Before the race I was nervous because it was about to be my first real distance competition since passing out. However, instead of feeling tired at the finish, I felt energized. When I crossed the line I was overwhelmed by the other participants and volunteers who gave their time, energy, and money to support the incredible work The City Mission is doing to assist Cleveland’s homeless. Nearly $100,000 in in-kind and monetary donations was raised from this single event, money joyfully given and joyfully used to transform lives.
Our God is a God of renewal. He renewed my health, and every day I am a witness to how He is renewing the lives of clients at the Mission. I am grateful for the three months I will be spending at The City Mission, learning not only work skills, but about people and how the Lord’s love is able to flow through anyone who is willing to be used for His glory.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
– Isaiah 40:29:31
By Caroline Kimpel
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Below is a guest blog written by Jill, a returning participant to The City Mission's Running with a Mission 5k ran at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo on June 22, 2013. The run was presented by the Sherwin Williams Women's Club. We hope you enjoy her perspective on the race, and are encouraged by her journey since last year's event. Jill hosts her own blog at www.theyearofthephoenix.com.
I am a loser.
I don’t mean to insult myself with this title. Instead, it’s a label I wear with honor and pride and, actually, I’ve lost twice. The first time was when I stepped on my scale in January 2011 and was astounded to see that I weighed 311 pounds. Since then I have lost over 100 pounds and have taken up yoga, strength training, and even running. As the girl who walked the mile every year in high-school this last one is the hardest for me to believe; it also brings me to my second type of losing.
When I started running in February 2012 I had no idea what I was doing. I never set out to be a runner and spent most of my life hating the very act of running. But that winter evening I decided to give it a try and hopped up on the treadmill. I could barely run for a full minute so I started with intervals, alternating between walking and running, and much to my own surprise discovered I didn’t just like running I LOVED it. The speed, the power, the endorphins (oh, lovely lovely endorphins). I still remember the first time I ran a full 20 minutes without stopping on the treadmill, and once the weather warmed up I took to running through the streets of Cleveland.
Somewhere along the way I decided to sign up for a race; a 5K to be exact, which is 3.1 miles. Looking through the list of upcoming races I settled on the Running with a Mission 5K. To be honest, I picked the race because of the location: I absolutely adore the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and loved the idea of running in and around all of the animal exhibits.
This was my first mistake. Because in thinking about how much I love the animals of the zoo I had forgotten how much I hate the hills within the zoo. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d forgotten the zoo even HAD hills (oops). But now I had registered, I was committed, and I was going to have to suck it up and run up and down those hills.
Yeah, forgot to mention that part: The course for the Running with a Mission 5K requires running the loop twice to complete the 3.1 miles. I also hadn’t taken into account that this would be late June and so, y’know, kinda hot.
But run those hills I did. The sun was baking, I was sweating, and I'm pretty sure I ended up with a sun burn. I spent the entire race trailing in the very back of the pack and had to walk the majority of the hills. When I finished in 47 minutes and 40 seconds, I was the very last runner to cross the finish line for the race.
Like I said: Loser.
Here’s the thing: I crossed the finish line. I finished. I did something I had never in a million years thought I would do, let alone could do. I ran a 5K and since then I’ve run several more as well as two 10Ks. I’m also registered for a half-marathon this fall. Despite my time and place, I loved every single minute of participating. I loved lining up with everyone at the start, I loved the cheers from the volunteers, I loved the award ceremony after. I was exhausted, every single part of my body ached, and I had come in last place.
It was, hands down, one of the best days of my entire life.
Which is why I decided to sign-up for the 2013 Running with a Mission 5K.
It would have been easy to say I should run a new race or tell myself I already conquered those hills once, no need to do it again. But I WANTED to do it again. I WANTED to see how far I’ve come since that first race.
I stuck to a plan and was perfectly okay walking where I needed to walk. And even with all of that walking, when I crossed the finish line I beat last year’s time by almost five minutes!
On my blog I encourage my readers to “Be Your Own Hero,” knowing that inside each of them is the courage to strap on their cape and take a flying leap into the great unknown. Yes, it’s scary and entirely possible that instead of soaring high you’ll come crashing down. It’s also not easy: I only did so well this year because I worked hard and trained for this race.
Any kind of change takes strength, both mental and physical. It takes dedication and determination to shed the weight, rid yourself of the negative people in your life, even dropping the negative thoughts you have about yourself. But it can be done. So it is my wish for you that you, too, put on your cape and become your own hero.
Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even become a loser like me.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
About a month ago we highlighted upgrades and programs new to the Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center at The City Mission thanks to incredible community support; one of these changes was the addition of Crossroads Culinary Kitchen, a culinary arts training program. Recently, women from Laura’s Home began to participate in the program alongside the men. The first two women to come through training are Flo and Georgia. Despite their different personalities and backgrounds, the two arrived at Laura’s Home through similar circumstances.
Both Flo and Georgia were incarcerated before coming to The City Mission. Through Inmate Outreach Services they received support and learned about Christ and their options at The City Mission after prison. Adjusting to life at Laura’s home was a process, but one that ultimately led them to the culinary program. Georgia remarks that the transition was overwhelming at first, but “Laura’s Home gives you the tools, you just have to use them.” The women began by working in the kitchen and after being noticed for their work ethic various program directors both were invited to apply for culinary classes.
For Flo, joining the culinary program was an exciting and natural step. She had always loved cooking, but before coming to The City Mission and working with program director James, she never understood the art of cooking. Georgia’s experience was almost the opposite. She laughs that she had never cooked or had an interest in cooking a day in her life prior to entering the program, but was determined to make this opportunity her own.
The students will work for days planning, preparing, and presenting a dish that people will only enjoy for five minutes – and those five minutes are what make everything worth it for Flo, Georgia and the rest of the culinary team. They express that the reward is in the reaction, as well as in learning, using their imagination and experimenting with new dishes. Georgia may have known nothing coming in, but now she truly appreciates the process and hopes to build a life from her new skills.
Flo and Georgia will graduate from the culinary program soon and move on to internships they will acquire through their training at The City Mission. However, how to make stuffed pork chops is not the only lesson they have learned during their time in the program. The pair is walking away with major faith in God’s providence. Flo hoped to complete a degree in sign language before being recommended for culinary arts classes. “You never know what is in God’s plan… you have to pray and ask where God would send you,” she notes. Georgia holds a similar view, believing that going to prison was the start of a journey that brought her here. Obtaining a job after the culinary program is not simply about her making money or having a career. “At the end of the day this is about putting my life back together.”
We are proud to see these women come through crisis and take initiative in their classes. Your support and prayer is helping students continuing on from the Crossroads Culinary Kitchen, as well as for the new students who will be entering the program soon. If you would like to learn more about the program or how you can further support students financially visit our culinary arts program page.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Hear from intern, Emily Sigmon, as she witnesses client transformation first-hand during a Laura's Home Women's Crisis Center program. Laura's Home interns get to see what it's like to work each day with women and children in crisis, build relationships and grow spitirutally.
The internship position has not only dedicated Emily to transformation, but also enabled her to use her special talents and gifts with the women and children at Laura's Home. Emily strengthened many relationships with the women in an excersice class that she created and led, and she plans on contuning to volunteer at Laura's Home after her internship period is over.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
We started implementing some new and exciting things here at the Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center at The City Mission that we’d love to share with you! We have been rolling out some new program upgrades as part of our short- and long-term programs.
Men will be able to choose from our services at a much earlier stage in their stay with us. We’re eager to be able to start the stabilization process sooner by arranging for our mental health professional and our intake specialist to work with the men more frequently than before.
We also started offering two extended programs on top of our Living Free program: a culinary arts training program and a janitorial arts training program. We have highly skilled staff on-site ready to train the men interested in these programs. Also, as part of the janitorial arts training program, we’ve partnered with local agencies that will offer an online training course. Both of these programs will give the participating men hands-on, class, and online training. Participants will be awarded certificates as each phase is completed. Opportunities for 1-2 month long internships with local organizations, such as offices, hotels, and restaurants, will be available through our extended programs with the hope of giving our clients a chance at success and employment after the program has ended.
It means so much to us to see our clients thrive after they’ve gone through one of our programs. Recently, our youngest client, who had been in our Crossroads program a couple years ago, had come by to say “hi”. He walked through our doors when he was 18. He’s 20 years old now and living on his own and managing a popular local restaurant. We were so excited to see him and are so proud of his turnaround! He’s staying on task, utilizing the tools we had given him, and trying his best to do the right things for his life. We loved seeing a smile on his face and having the chance to catch up with him.
For us, it’s about the client. They come to us looking for help, and we want to provide them with the tools they in every way that we can.
We’re incredibly excited and enthusiastic about these new programs we are rolling out. We encourage you to follow us on Twitter or Facebook and check back with us periodically as we begin to move forward. Within the next year, you’ll be able to witness the new opportunities we will be offering to our clients here at Crossroads!
You can always check out our website at www.thecitymission.org/crossroads or just stop in and visit and say hi. We’d love to give you a tour!
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
"The City Mission in general focuses so much on hope, and bringing hope to the people around us, and I know for me it even served as hope for myself when you're in a desperate situation." -Brittany Kimlingen, Pathways Intern.
The Pathways Family Outreach Services is an exciting place for youth, young adults and families, where they are encouraged to live lives full of faith, productivity and excellence. Brittany, an intern at Pathways, discovers first-hand what it's like to help instill hope into the lives of the youth at Pathways, while growing in her own walk with Christ.
Pathways offers a variety of services including Beginner, Preteen and Teen Clubs, Familiy Nights, College Club, Fathers Club, Mothers Club and more! Click here to learn more about programing at Pathways, or to get involved.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Do you have passion and enthusiasm for serving those in need? If so, we have big plans for you! Become an intern at The City Mission and learn how to serve and minister to men, women, and children in crisis.
Many of our interns have helped out at Laura’s Home, a crisis center for women and children. The kids, especially, at The City Mission need encouragement to understand their value. Your positive influence will help motivate them to reach their full potential.
What do interns do?
As an intern, you’ll be asked to help out wherever there is need. We want you to get your hands dirty! Your work at Laura’s Home could include teaching Bible lessons, conducting field trips, or helping coach a sport. You may also find yourself helping out in administration, in the library, the kitchen, or sitting in on client meetings with caseworkers. You’ll get a chance to do many things to determine just where your passion lies and where you fit best.
Stories from our interns:
What’s it like to work with the kids over at Laura’s Home? Here are a couple experiences from past interns:
One of our male interns began working with a young boy lacking respect and consideration for others. Listening and following directions were daily trials. However, with patience and encouragement, the boy’s behavior drastically improved over time. His aggression towards others diminished, and he even became a willing helper to other staff members. The intern could see the impact his dedication had and knew this positive change would have a long-lasting affect on the boy’s life.
Likewise, one of our female interns was almost surprised to learn that she had made a connection with one of our clients by simply being open to conversation. Each time the intern would ride along to her Pathways after school group, the girl and her twin sister would ask questions about Jesus and the Bible. Our intern would answer as best she could, and that would typically be the end of it. A few questions, a few answers. However, upon the girl’s exit from the program, a revelation was made.
“The last day I ever saw them … the one girl said, ‘I’ll think about what you said.’”
At that moment, our intern realized that the girl had listened to each word she had spoken, and her words were now seeds that would continue to grow long after their interactions.
What will you gain from the program?
Although thorough training will be provided before you dig in, much of what you will gain will be real-life lessons that stem from hands-on experiences. Just as you’ll be teaching and helping others to grow, you will, in turn, find yourself learning and growing from those around you.
“The best thing I learned is patience and to keep working hard and never stop, even when I don’t get the results I want. With the kids, you have to learn patience because there are so many, and some of their behavior levels are different. Some listen, some don’t. You have to be patient and realize that those kids can turn their behavior around if you teach them and show them the behavior you expect from them by treating them in a positive way.”
Find out more about the ways you can get involved and become an intern. You can help to reach hearts and change lives.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
“Homelessness or being in a crisis shelter is really no respecter of education or social background. Given the right conditions, anyone could be homeless and in a crisis.” – George Mason, Learning Center Supervisor
The Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center at The City Mission provides a place for men who are experiencing trauma, whether from natural disaster, toxic environments, or poor choices, to seek support and recovery. These are just a handful of the voices from men who have come to Crossroads and have been changed.
If you or someone you know is experiencing trauma and needs a place to go to recover and get back on their feet, please contact us. Men can call (216) 431-3510 and press 5 on the day that he needs shelter. Beds are not reserved. If a bed is available, he will be told the time to arrive, what to and what not to bring. Our staff is ready to help bring change and encouragement to men in crisis.
Monday, December 31, 2012
Jasmine is just one of the remarkable students we meet daily at Pathways Family Outreach, where we are preparing them to do remarkable things. Summer programs, like the one that inspired Jasmine, provide unique opportunities to strengthen and encourage students of all ages. Your continued support is transforming the future of boys and girls. Please click the orange "Donate" button to give today.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
The staff and volunteers of Pathways Family Outreach Services are working every day to teach, inspire, and strengthen children, young adults, and families in Cleveland. Encouraging them to not let their past or their surroundings write their story, but to "put their dreams in His hands."
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
LaShanda is one of literally hundreds of women who's lives have been transformed at Laura's Home. It's a special blessing to have her come back every Christmas to volunteer and spend time with women who like her, need a place of relief amidst the life in chaos. She is able to share her story with women who can relate to it all too well, and who are looking for the same hope that she found.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
by Taylor Nagy, Social Media Intern
God is at work every day at the Mission and His blessings never cease to amaze us. Once in a while, God works in a truly amazing way and brings special people into partnership with the Mission whose diligence and charitable service is especially remarkable. Recently, Crossroads Crisis Center received a blessing which benefited our men’s program and showed special care for our community: the careful completion of the Crossroads bathroom renovation.
Mike H., the owner of M&M General Contractors, had a personal stake in this project. Mike’s son previously benefited from the services of the Crossroads program directly. Through working on this project together, their previously strained relationship was repaired and they developed a good working relationship with the Mission staff. The project surely would not have been completed at such a high caliber without their thoughtfulness and generous help.
Mike took on extra costs in to make sure the project was done well and used highly durable materials, beyond those the contract required, which will last many years.
With the new fixtures and main boiler valve installed, energy efficiency was improved for the entire building. He graciously kept the bathroom open for use by the men in the evenings and delayed replacing the floor—which added far more time to the duration of the project—in order to minimize the number of men leaving the short-term program due to the renovation.
Many of the subcontractors also had a special affinity for working on this project and contributed labor and materials as well. The countless sacrifices Mike and his team made were nothing short of wonderful. The men of crossroads were blown away by all of the support. Mike said that many of the men in the program thanked him for his superior work and extra effort.
Having such high quality facilities for the men in the Crossroads program helps us to reestablish their sense of dignity and worth so that they are encouraged to aspire to better lives for themselves. The renovation was sponsored by the Reinberger Foundation and another donor whose family member benefited from the Crossroads program. On behalf of the many who will benefit from the completion of this project, we wish to express our gratitude to these donors for their generous support. Their partnership in serving those in need and ensuring such effective use of our resources is much appreciated. May God continue to bless the Mission and our partners.
Friday, May 27, 2011
by Joshua Foote, Social Media Manager
I get paid to hear good news. It's not all I do, but it might be the best out of many great parts of my job. In my role managing our social media network, I'm constantly connecting with those on the front lines of changing lives. I track the day-to-day news around both of our campuses, as best as one person can. Sometimes it's hard just to keep up with it all. This week is a great example.
Just this morning I saw a client excitedly asking our security staff at Laura's Home if she looked nice as she headed out for a job interview.
Last weekend, I talked to almost 100 volunteers who came to both of our campuses for our first Crisis Center Improvement Day. They all could have been sleeping in, but instead they worked hard to be sure our grounds can create a positive environment of change for those who come here.
At Pathways Family Outreach this week there's a flurry of activity to prepare for several weeks of Summer Day Camp that start in June, especially with registration numbers way over our goal.
Tuesday morning, nurses for University Hospitals made their second drop-off of all kinds of items off our Needs List, a collection drive they put together on their own to help care for the women and children at Laura's Home. At the same time, employees at Key Bank of Kamm's Corners came to Laura's Home for their Neighbor's Make a Difference Day and left making plans to do it again.
Yesterday, I found out about the 1,200 letters sending encouragement, devotional material, and personal correspondence to inmates all over Ohio last Friday, sent from our Inmate Outreach Services. About 250 of these letters are being received by new participants.
Again, this morning, on the phone with George Mason, our Learning Center Supervisor, I learned about a Crossroads client named Lonnie. Thirty-four years ago he received a high school diploma. He couldn't read, but he graduated because he had never missed a day of school. Now at age 52, he is reading at a fourth grade level and continuing to learn more from one of our Learning Center tutors. Today he's starting his new job at Susy's Soup.
The saying goes, "good news will stay, and bad news will refuse to leave." It would be false to imply that discouragement is never part of what happens here. I do hear bad news sometimes, and I'll dutifully pass it on just as soon as I run out of good. But I'll warn you, at this rate that's not going to happen for a very long time.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
by Cassandra Woodard, Program Leader
The Pathways team really rejoices when we see change in the lives of the children we serve. This week at Pathways Drop in Club we are teaching the children the Ten Commandments. Today’s commandment was “Honor your mother and father”. While the Program leader was teaching what this verse means, a young male first grader named Ronald came over to me from across the room. I asked him what was wrong and he said “I argued with my mom today”.
I was surprised that this student confessed this to me because he usually is playing during the bible lesson. In a very assuring tone I replied to him “Okay, would you like to tell God you are sorry and ask for forgiveness?” With a smile on his face he said “Yes”. I then put my hand on his shoulder and prayed with him, thanking God that He loves us and wants us to obey His commands, and to forgive Ronald of arguing with his mother. He then playfully ran back to his seat with joy.
It is evident that God is getting through to our children no matter how thick the walls seem. Some plant, some water, but God gets the increase! Praise God for His faithfulness and power to impact the youth, families, and this city!
Pathways Family Outreach Services is offering fun and exciting programs for youth, young adults, and families in the areas surround The City Mission. Please take a few minutes and explore Pathways here on our web site.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
by Pam Glicker, Laura's Home Women's Crisis Center Manager
A Door of Hope is the history of The City Mission’s 100 years. Beginning in the foreword by Mayor Frank Jackson, the message of The City Mission’s focus is first noted: ‘However, while programs and services have changed over the last 100 years, one thing has not; The City Mission’s focus on helping all people by coordinating social welfare programs and faith-based services and continuing to offer hope to those in need.’
From our humble beginnings in a building that once housed a saloon to the current campuses that house Crossroads, Pathways, Inmate Outreach Services, and Laura’s Home, the ‘mission’ has not changed: ‘Providing help and hope to all people through the transforming power of God’s love.’
Technology will continue to change. Transportation will continue to change. The housing and job market will continue to change. Clothing styles will continue to change. But the need to reach out to men, women, and children in crisis
will not change. And neither will our focus.
As I look back on the past 8 years that Laura’s Home has been opened, I have names and faces in my mind’s eye of so many women and children that came through our doors without any hope at all and left transformed and changed for eternity. It doesn’t get any better than that! Brian Broadbent’s words at the end of A Door of Hope sums it up this way: ‘What we’re all about is the Gospel, (acknowledging) what Christ did for us.’
So, for the bicentennial celebration in 2110, I believe that the names will change, but the impact of lost lives being redeemed will still be what is celebrated.
What will Cleveland look like in 2110? Please share your thoughts below.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Talking to someone with an addiction is not rare. Most of us can admit being addicted to something and not being able to give it up on our own, even if it’s as innocent as our morning cup of coffee. However, for some, like Tiffany, addiction leaves them devastated, desperate, and searching for hope. In her own words, Tiffany shares how the staff of The City Mission’s Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center helped her find healing and hope.
Thanks for listening. If you would like to help women like Tiffany at Laura's Home, please click on the orange DONATE button at the top of this screen.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Thursday, November 11, 2010
by Rev. Rich Trickel, CEO of The City Mission
For the last several years I’ve been thinking about the past – the last 100 years. I wasn’t prepared for how significant or meaningful that would be. I really shouldn’t be surprised though, I’ve known for a long time that “memorials” or remembering is a biblical idea. When the children of Israel passed over the Jordan River, God instructed them to bring 12 rocks from the river bed and pile them up on the other side of the river bank. He explained, years from now when you’re walking along the river with your children and they ask you about the pile of rocks you will remember and tell them how God brought you over on dry ground. Remembering, especially God’s goodness, grace and mercy is a good thing to do!
The same God that said “remember” also said “lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest”. In other words, our focus can and perhaps should be divided – split between remembering what God has done and looking ahead to what He will do. With this perspective, I eagerly look forward to the next 100 years. I see an organization that holds firm to embracing and proclaiming the gospel of grace – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only answer to the sin problem. I anticipate the continuation of effective and vibrant programing facilitating life transformation as a result of the dynamic ministry of the Spirit of God. I expect a determined, enthusiastic staff focused and committed to their individual ministries supported and supplemented by scores of dedicated volunteers. I wonder about the Body of Christ at large and hope and pray that a unified and coordinated ministry is present in our distressed city. And I long for the day when every man, woman, and child will have opportunity to respond in faith to the life changing message of the gospel as it goes out faithfully and consistently from ministry centers throughout the greater Cleveland area.
Actually, I don’t have to wait for the next 100 years. The time is now, the need is critical and the resources abundant. What do you think? “…lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest”. Do you have a passion for urban ministry? Are you willing to join us in providing help and hope to all people through the transforming power of God’s love? Can you see yourself volunteering, serving at The City Mission? If so, please give us a call. We have a place for you!
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
by Joshua Foote, Social Media Manager at The City Mission
Today is Wednesday, Hump Day. It’s usually called that because it takes us over the hump of our week. For me, it’s Hump Day because of the Quasimodo type burden on my back.
I often carry my whole life with me when I leave the house on Wednesday, because my Wednesdays are always full. I'm the Social Media Manager here at The City Mission in downtown Cleveland, so I carry a large computer bag with everything I need to do my job from just about anyway. I also serve in the worship team at my church, which practices on Wednesday, so I lug out my big guitar case and a bag with music and cables. Since I'm already gone all day, I throw a workout in the mix as well; pile on a backpack with what I need for the gym. Of course I need to take enough food to sustain me for the next 14 hours or so; add a sack lunch or two.
This morning I had just managed to hoist the burdens of my life on my back and was trying to hurry out the door with them, when the small voice of my four year old stopped me. "Hey Daddy, I want to tell you something."
"Ok, but it has to be quick." I reply impatiently with one foot over the threshold.
"Can you tell everyone at Downtown and at Laura's Home that they should love their neighbor instead of just loving themselves?"
The agenda of my busy day changed in a moment. As I transferred sack, bag, pack and case to my car, I realized just how much the choice to love others changes my life. It makes my job a calling, it makes serving a ministry, it makes every meal a feast of thanksgiving. Even when I exercise it is a choice between healthy stewardship and selfish vanity. It makes our yoke easy and our burden’s light.
Had not Christ carried a burden on his back for his neighbor, for me?
You may not work downtown or stay at Laura’s Home, but I’m sure my son won’t mind if I include you in his message this Wednesday.
Happy Hump Day.
Friday, September 03, 2010
by George Mason, Learning Center Supervisor
As events go, last Sunday’s birthday celebration was perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event. A woman I’ve known for the last 25 years turned 100!
Elsie is as spry and sharp as the day we first met. She can still recount her family’s journey from Hungary to America. Seeing the Statue of Liberty from the deck of a crowded ship, followed by her memories of Ellis Island is the stuff of movies. When pressed for how she did it, Elsie merely smiles and hints that longevity is a curious mix of genes, hard work, and a persistent, don’t-quit attitude.
In similar fashion, though much younger, Crossroads client Ron D, achieved his own milestone last week. Ron persisted his way to a job. At 60 Ron wondered if there was anything “out there” for him. And while landing a job is one of the primary goals of the City Mission’s Learning Center, at age 60 doubts and questions are sure to arise. “Am I too old? What can I do? Where do I go? It is comforting to know there are answers.
From Genesis to Revelation, our Bible offers the promise of a new life, new opportunities, and new beginnings for all regardless of age or the mistakes of youth. In the prophecy of Joel 2:25 the Lord assures us, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…”
Yes, there are consequences for bad choices and sometimes it takes a lifetime to overcome them; but we have a redeemer who can pull us from the muck, set us on a firm foundation, and give us a new song to sing. Of this Ron is a believer. Are you?
Friday, August 06, 2010
By Dale Matthias, Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center Manager
One of the most meaningful tools that we use in the Long Term Program to help equip our clients is the Self-Evaluation form (Copyright @2001 Curt Floski). Our clients come to The City Mission because they have made unwise or negative choices in the past and the outcome has not pointed them in the right direction.
On the Self-Evaluation form it asks the client seven questions with the first being “What did you choose to do?” This is just a factual statement as to what choice was made. It can be positive or negative, but it points you to the realization that we are constantly making choices, good or bad.
The next question is “What did you want?” This puts some thought into the choice that was made. What was the goal in that choice? Were there selfish motives? Did I revert back to my old nature?
Question number three is, “What were you thinking?” and most times we are not thinking at all and again we revert back to old natures or learned behavior.
Question four is, “What were the results of your choice?” This is where we take responsibility for our choice whether it is positive or negative. The choice was made…. is there a better way of approaching the situation?
The fifth question is the second most important question, “What effect did your choice have on the environment?” This question is often misinterpreted or passed over by most of the clients. The old nature comes out in this question where they think more of themselves and because most of them have not had healthy relationships, they do not equate this question of how it affected other clients, family, or staff.
Of course question six is the most important question, “How does your choice draw you closer to or further from the standard of Christlikeness?” This puts everything into prospective: how do we relate our choices in a biblical direction? This is where the common phase comes in “What would Jesus do”. In other words, our choices must revolve around biblical principles instead of our self centered old nature.
The final question is, “What is your plan to change?” or plainly said, how do you plan to put off the ‘old’ and put on the ‘new’? This question also summarizes the whole thought process, whether they are major choices or minor. It all comes down to two of the most important commandments: How do we love God and how do we love others.
No matter how secure you think your life is, these questions can reveal some very unexpected things. Answer them honestly and you're likely to surprise yourself.
Friday, July 02, 2010
by Bradley Stokes, Elementary/Teen Program Supervisor of The City Mission
The City Missions Pathways Teen Programs have been offering hope to many Cleveland teens for years. One way is through our scholarship program which awards students $1,000 per semester based on a few requirements. The City Mission has given aways thousands of dollars to teens helping provide hope and a positive future. The world says we’re working with a generation of teens that have no hope, but that is not true for the teens that come to Pathways. I see hope in each one of my students. While working with them can be challenging, it’s definitely rewarding. Pathways Teen Programs have been a safe place for Cleveland’s inner city teens to learn, grow in Christ, and have fun for years. I get an awesome feeling in knowing that the teens in this area look forward to being a part of Pathways.
There are two important things to keep in mind when working with teens, one is to be real at all times and two is to build relationships. Without those two items, you cannot be effective in teen ministry. Our teens have a saying that says “real reconginze real” which means if you are not being real with them, they can tell and when they sense that, they are not willing to open up and talk about issues going on in their life. Teens are looking for someone who genuially cares for their well being and is not afraid to be honest with them. I have a goal that every time a teen comes to our program they learning something new, most importantly something new about the Lord.
Our teens are dealing with a lot when they come to the Pathways Teen Program. It’s imporant that we become a support system and show them the type of love that Christ showed to us. That’s how they will know there is hope when others say there is no hope. Some come in and don’t want to hear about the Lord, but through building a relationship with them they become open and willing to listen. The greatest thing is seeing transformation on a weekly basis and seeing them realizing their potential. We must keep the light shining here at Pathways, there are teens waiting to be impacted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Matt 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
by Janet Noe, Maintenance Supervisor of the City Mission
Just like the seasons have changed since God first created the earth, we also go through seasons in our lives. This year marks the 100th anniversary of The City Mission and the seventh anniversary of Laura’s Home.
At Laura’s Home we see many women and children blossom into a better life, a deeper faith, and a desire to be all they can be. There is such a feeling of awe, to see how God can take someone who has never known Him or had the help they needed, and show them they are special.
It reminds me of a grapevine I once planted. Early one spring I planted a grape vine in my yard. It grew a little that year, but produced no fruit. When fall season came, then winter, I wondered if it would survive. When the snow came, I saw how God protected that vine with the leaves that had fallen from the trees. The leaves had blown and created a blanket which covered the vine’s base keeping it warm.
It took several years of pruning and care for that vine to produce grapes. Just like that vine, the women, children, and men, who came to The City Mission are blanketed by God’s love. Staff and volunteers care for and provide help to every client, as if pruning and watering. God changes that person’s life and makes them fruitful. He removes the past, like old leaves and brings forth a better life with tools to thrive. Go even extends them to reach others.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
by Dale Matthis, Crossoads Men’s Crisis Center Manager at The City Mission.
One of the key components of the Crisis Services Programs is the true inner transformation of an individual verses the outward appearance of change that so many are used to or that has been so ingrained in them. What a wonderful sight it is to see an individual transform from when they first walked thru our doors! These men and women are seeking, but seeking includes surrendering and submitting. This process has its own challenges and choices to be made, but it comes with a more positive outlook. The countenance of their character changes. Their view of relationships changes from unhealthy to healthy and as they are filled with the love of God thru Jesus Christ the Bible becomes personal to them. The person moves from dependency to independence and entitlement is replaced by gratitude and contentment.
Graduation cap, gown, and diplomaFor many years now The City Mission has celebrated the ongoing journey of these individuals that have fulfilled the basic requirements of the Crisis Services Program by recognizing them at their own Commencement Ceremony. This is a time set aside for them, their family and friends, to come together and rejoice and fellowship. Not only will they receive a diploma and special gift, but they will hear guest speakers and special music all geared to reflect the journey they have been thru and encouragement them to stay on the narrow road for the rest of the journey. It is truly a wonderful time for all.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously , and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33 NLT.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
By Dale Matthias, Crossroads Men’s Crisis Center Manager at The City Mission
Many of us in Northeast Ohio are very glad to see the snow and winter storms say goodbye. February ranked in the top six months for snow fall on record in Cleveland.
But now, on the flip side, we are facing some of the worst chuckholes we have ever seen. Maybe you have had a personal encounter with a few. Not to mention all the grunge and debris that is exposed, left by the mounds of plowed snow piles.
When we had snow, everything looked fresh and clean and uniform. Even the chuckholes were smoothed over with the packed in snow. Now, things look dingy and grey and we are constantly dodging and weaving those pesky chuckholes.
In many ways I can relate this image to my old way of life, before accepting Christ. I use to put on an image for people that I was always alright (let’s call this my personal snow pile), I don’t have problems, I am strong and able, even to the point that I am invincible!
But over the years, as my personal snow pile melted, all my junk and debris was exposed (let’s call it what it is …sin). Even then I thought I could handle it and tried in vain to keep the surface as smooth as possible, only to discover that I was dodging one hole after another with each one getting wider and deeper. I became exhausted trying to patch one hole after another. I had a choice to make because eventually I knew I would fall into one that I could not get myself out of.
I will close with two question and two passages from scripture. What will be exposed as your personal snow pile melts? How long do you think you can keep patching the holes in your road? Hmmm……..
Psalm 51:7 “Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” [NLT]
Proverbs 4:26,27 “Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” [NLT]