Love Casts Out Fear

Joyce courageously answered God’s call to serve the homeless in the midst of a pandemic!

“ARE YOU SURE?” people would ask. “Do you understand the risk of what you are wanting to do?


When God called Joyce Tabor to work with homeless men and women in Yakima, He did it in the midst of a global pandemic.

A woman marked by her gift of hospitality, Joyce began serving the Mission by working at our YUGM Thrift store. Her warmth greeted every customer and donor. But it wasn’t long before Joyce felt God calling her to lean in, trust Him, and step forward to minister to people impacted by street homelessness in a more hands-on way. The only catch? A shelter-in-place order urging people to be distant and safe.


Joyce knew what God was asking her to do and applied for a position as an Adult Shelter Coordinator. Director Chelsey Bell recalls warning Joyce about the risks: about COVID, and violence, and the many challenges which would come with taking this position. When asked whether we had scared her off she didn’t waiver, “I feel called. I just want to love them. I just hope I can do a good job.” She shared on the phone how she’s wept each night in prayer for our hurting guests, and can’t wait to work with them.


Soon after beginning her work in the Shelter, Joyce began to experience COVID symptoms. Tests confirmed what the rest of the staff feared: Joyce was positive for COVID-19. Hospitalized and on oxygen, her faith remained unshaken.


Joyce says she never felt afraid, but felt like she was being held in God’s hand, full of peace. She thanks you for praying, and asks that you continue to ask God how He might want to use YOU to share the hope of Christ even during the coronavirus era. She is fully healed and back at it- loving the hurting and broken in Jesus’ name.
We praise God for her healing, and for the testimony which came out of this time.


In Luke 14, Jesus talks about ‘counting the cost’ of becoming a disciple. A holding-in-open-hands everything that we hold dear, up to and including our lives. It is, like the song says, His breath in our lungs, and so we pour out our praise- and our time, and our comfort, and our safety- in the hopes that others would know the profound love and peace which has set us free.


Thank you all for the joy-filled, life-giving work you do when you support the Mission.


Letter from Mike

The Price of Love

Show me what you will suffer for, what you will sacrifice for, and that is what you love. For example, the love of money typically results in sacrificing family. Loving your children will cost you too.

In this newsletter, you’ve read about how Joyce’s love for God and his broken children has been seen in her willingness to risk suffering and even death. Joyce is so inspiring to all of us here. We love her so much!

Perhaps God is calling you to come volunteer. Maybe he has called you to financial giving. He calls each of us to serve and sacrifice in the way that’s right for them. It takes all of us working together to make this Mission. We are the Union in the Union Gospel Mission!

So, thank you for the giving and sacrifices you’ve made to keep hope alive in the darkest night. We can’t do it without you. Thank you for the prayers you have offered for our team and for those we seek to love in Jesus’ name. Please keep it up.

And thank you for loving God and your neighbor right now.  We need it now more than ever.

– Mike Johnson, CEO


Article from the YUGM September 2020 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

From Darkness to Marvelous Light

How a Lost Son Saved a Mother’s Life.

“I thought we just died when we took our last breath. I had no hope for anything, no future, no dreams, nothing.”

Lori Ivy

Lori’s life was never easy. With alcoholic parents who were rarely there and no other stable adults present, she soon found herself in two different abusive marriages with a son to care for.

When an urgent need to move arose, Lori gathered her courage and drove toward Zillah, where she was granted a place to stay with relatives. But Lori’s beloved son was spiraling out of control and she had no power to stop him. At his request, she dropped him off at a pot farm and drove away.

Soon after, Lori found herself in church where she begged the Lord to help her son. That very same night, she received a phone call from her son admitting he needed to change his life.

After helping her son join a program at the Mission, Lori’s own life began to grow darker and darker, inching toward either prison or death.

Then everything changed.

It was as if her son was an entirely different person; the Lord had saved him and made him new! It wasn’t long before he invited Lori to join the New Life program at the Mission.

In February of 2016, Lori joined the Women’s New Life Program, where she participated in countless bible classes, hours of mentoring, and for the first time, quiet. A quiet, stable living, where she no longer had to be strong for others.

“The first night I was there when I closed the door to my room, the chaos was silenced for once. No cell phone, no one needing something from me or visa versa. I will NEVER forget that feeling.”

As Lori continued in the program, she felt her eyes open and life change as she understood Jesus to be her Savior.

“I had no hope for anything, no future, no dreams, nothing. Because of the Mission, I now crave learning more about my Creator. It is absolutely mind blowing.”

Now, as a graduate of the New Life Program and a passionate supporter of the Mission, Lori has come full circle and taken a Job at our Thrift stores, where she hopes to love people in Jesus’ name. What amazing grace!


Letter From Mike

As We Grow


I’m so grateful Lori gave us a generous window into her growth! It’s important that we keep growing… and it’s important we remember that needing to grow just means we’re normal.


Roger and Rick Phillips led this Mission through a lot of growth, and we keep growing to this day! Just like Lori or anyone else we help, God is constantly working on growing the Mission’s ability to give and receive His transforming love in Jesus Christ.


We daily invite people to join the transformation journey we are already on: following Jesus by helping people move from homelessness to wholeness.


We share with others because we have been given so much!Growing is good! Growing together is a gift from God.

yugm staff photo, mike johnson

In Him,
Mike Johnson, CEO


Article from the YUGM March 2021 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

I Once Was Lost…

One Man’s Journey from Homelessness to Wholeness in Christ.

joel sandoval standing outside yugm

“I am going back to the same place I used to live, but I’m not going back to the same world. I will never be the same.”

Joel Sandoval

Joel Sandoval came to the Mission in 2011 and entered our Men’s New Life addiction recovery program. He began doing work therapy with our maintenance and facilities team and was eventually hired into our lead janitorial position.

When Joel came to the Mission, he had been living in his car in Hermiston, drinking and doing drugs. He lost everything- his wife and family, his home- everything except his car. “I didn’t want to be that person and wanted to change my life. I had nothing to live for and believed I wasn’t worth loving.”

People reached out and tried to get him to go to church. “I thought I needed to get my life right before I could go to God. I felt unworthy of His love.” He tried 6 different treatment centers but every time he fell back to the same things.

“I was alone and bought into the lie that I had no value. I knew it was hurting me but I had no power to change.”

While in detox in Pendleton, OR, he was told about the Mission but heard it was a year-long and it felt like he would be going to prison. It seemed too long. He got depressed but finally agreed to be sent to the Mission.

His first impression was the Mission was that he felt lost here. “I didn’t know the reason why I was here but something in me trusted God placed me here for a reason. People were nice to me and I didn’t know why and wasn’t used to it.”

“I began to seek God with my whole heart and really wanted to know God and have him in my life.” He began to change Joel and reveal Himself to him.

“I know God is real because I couldn’t change myself like this. I was spiritually, physically and mentally exhausted. God restored me.”

“I learned that God loves me. I didn’t think he could and thought I was unworthy of His love. I need to be reminded that even when I was away from God He loved me and sought me.”

Joel is a tremendous light around the Mission, serving with joy, gratitude, and humility. This July, he is retiring and moving back to Oregon to live near his family there. God graciously restored some of those relationships. Our HR Director helped him get set up so he could plan for his retirement. He will be sorely missed at the Mission but we are absolutely delighted for him to begin a new season of retirement alongside his loved ones.

Article from the Summer 2021 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

Re-Purposed in Christ

Danielle came to the Mission in search of a new start.

After a devastating personal loss pushed her into depression and substance use, Danielle knew she needed to tap into spiritual power if she was going to find hope for a new life.

A new believer with no connections, Danielle came to Yakima to stay at a faith-based sober living house. She joined Celebrate Recovery and began volunteering at the Mission. There she met her now best friend, Noon, who serves on staff at Madison House. She prompted Danielle to consider the Women’s New Life Program.


“Pain and trauma are what drives most addicts to seek escape with drugs and alcohol. When you make a decision to follow Jesus and give up substance use, you have to sit with that pain. It’s vulnerable. I needed a community of support to help me process my loss and find hope in Jesus- hope for healing and hope for my future!”


She recounts it was during the hardest parts of the program that her faith really went deep. She had to face her sin nature and challenge herself to see her own God-given value. She also began to feel God calling her into ministry.
“He wants to redeem my story by using it to encourage and inspire other people.”


Danielle is truly a new creation. She said the most profound moment was reading Scripture and realizing her life is the play-out of salvation.


God is calling her to a new endeavor: she recently accepted a position as Retail Manager of The Olde Lighthouse Shoppe!


It’s a beautiful cycle. Donors bring their gently-used clothes and household items to the thrift stores. We re-purpose them and give them new life by selling them to the community. The proceeds from the sale of those goods then go directly back into funding the life-changing programs at the Mission!


“I feel so honored to be able to give back in this way. It’s hugely rewarding to know that I’m making it possible for other people to find new life in Christ at the Mission. Kind of like the things we sell at the stores- repurposed for a greater purpose.”


Thank YOU, faithful friends, for the hope you offer to people like Danielle when you give to the Mission and support our thrift stores!


Letter From Mike

ReCreated: Belonging to Christ

Paul told us in Romans 8:28 that God repurposes every bad thing for good when we walk with Christ. I love what this says about God: He refuses that satan should have anything to call his own.

Our spiritual enemy wants to lay claim– to have a kingdom of his own. He uses abuse, trauma, and addiction to say “mine!” But he lies.

God creates… and recreates! Everything is His because He makes and remakes it in Christ.  Ministry is the joy of repeatedly telling the Father of Lies, “That doesn’t belong to you!” Because of support from friends like you, we get to see this at the Mission over and over.

Recently, we lost an amazing 34 year-old former guest to a trucking accident. At the Mission, he met Jesus and was set free.  Repurposed in Christ, he was working and enjoying life! We grieve his loss…but not like the world grieves. We know that our brother now has what we all want… perfect love in the presence of Christ. 

When God remakes, He re-asserts His ownership. He’s saying, “I really mean it: this dear one is mine!” 

yugm staff photo, mike johnson

In Him,
Mike Johnson, CEO


Article from the YUGM July 2020 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

God is Here

Luis came to the Mission to get meals and a place to sleep while he got on his feet. 

HOW we do things has changed, but WHY we do them never will!

Luis, a guest in our shelter, made a very powerful observation: “I can see the staff going above and beyond during this time. A lot of people are sad because they can’t go to church right now, but the Bible says…”

“You know, a lot of people are sad because they can’t go to church right now. But [Matthew 18:20] says that where two or three are gathered, then HE IS THERE”. 

Almost overnight, life as we’ve known it changed and our world spiraled into a socially-distant, working-remotely culture.

Yakima Union Gospel Mission felt the tension as we worked hard to implement safety protocol while continuing to offer the same life-saving meals, shelter, and emergency care we have provided the homeless for over 80 years. While everything changed, we remain committed to loving our neighbors well.  

You may have seen our social media posts and followed along as we brought in military tents, cots and sleeping bags to enlarge the sleeping space for our shelter guests.  

Luis held his Bible in one hand while pointing to the tents set up to create additional space between guests. “God talked to Moses in a tent while the Israelites were in the wilderness,” he said.

“God is here- at the Mission.   We are having church right now!” 

He continued, “There is all this darkness in the world right now. But if we know God, we don’t have to be discouraged. We can shine a light that will point people to Jesus and wanting to change their lives.” 

You see, God sent us to love the broken in  Jesus’ name. People are valuable to God and they are worth us going to every effort to keep them safe and alive.

People need to be safe to believe they are loved. People need to be seen to believe they have value. People need to be alive to receive the life-transforming truth that Jesus died for them and wants a relationship with them. 

The eternal, unchanging purpose of the  Mission hasn’t changed, even when so much around us has. 


Letter From Mike

Shine Christ’s Love

At first, my prayer was for God to show his miraculous love by keeping the Mission COVID-zero. We all worked and worked, and creatively reinvented everything to support that goal. God’s plan was better.

As the news broke that our first—and only, at this writing—guest with coronavirus was struggling to stay quarantined due to her mental health challenges, hundreds of people started praying. They even told me so. “Father! We need a solution!”

Our guest’s mental state and behavior changed within hours. Staff and volunteers gave her every reason to stay in her room, sitting with her at points. And she cooperated. It was a total turnaround with no explanation but Christ’s love for His hurting daughter.

Christ showed us God’s love by His personal sacrifice for “those still far off.” And our guests are seeing that love here among His followers as we work like never before to keep these folks alive. One night early on I told them myself at bed-time, “I don’t want any of you dying until you’ve made your peace with Jesus! So, 6 feet apart everybody!” They felt loved, not scolded.

Please pray for our team here, and me. With volunteering down (understandably) and everything  different, the workload is unprecedented. But every day, someone here thanks me, and my colleagues report it too. “Thank you guys for working so hard to keep us safe,” they say.  

It may be a dark time, but “the light shines in the darkness” (Jn 1:5).

Mike Johnson, CEO


Article from the YUGM July 2020 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

A Light Shines in the Night

yolanda martinez at the yakima union gospel mission

“ARE YOU NEW TO THIS NEIGHBORHOOD?” a Madison House staff member asked Yolanda as she rode her bike down 4th Street.

After two months of homelessness, living in a car with her mom and sister, Yolanda’s family found temporary lodging near Madison House in southeast downtown Yakima.

Lonely and happy to be away from their cramped, shared apartment space, Yolanda and her sister Gabby began coming to Madison House every day after school.


There they found a community of support and friendships. There was tutoring to help them with homework, activities, and dinner every night!


Yolanda made friends and learned she could trust the adult mentors and staff. More importantly, for the first time, she learned that God loved her. She began to realize that the people she thought had cared about her, never treated her as valuable.


“I learned that I matter,” Yolanda expressed with tears in her eyes. “People actually cared about me and I learned God loves me and has a plan for my life.”


Today, despite living in Union Gap with their aunt, Yolanda and Gabby get dropped off at Madison House every day. They participate in the Learning Lab to get help with virtual school.


Yolanda is also participating in this year’s MH Apple Company. The Apple Company, started by Mark Holtzinger as a way to teach MH kids business and entrepreneurial skills while helping them raise money for camp and activities, is an annual youth leadership program.


Students purchase wholesale apples, package, and market them, then sell locally-grown and sourced holiday gift boxes to the community!


You can support students like Yolanda and the life-changing work being done in the lives of young people at Madison House.


Letter From Mike

A LIGHT OF HOPE

Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present. The holiday season starts with Thanksgiving…gratitude for the past.

Christmas is about the future. It’s about the hope created by the arrival of Christ. Because He came, the future can be different!

The Mission is about Hope too. Everything we do is to show people that Christ has a new future he wants to give. For people overcoming addiction, finding a job, or just trying to finish High School, hope is essential. 

Your support has helped give Gabby and Yolanda the belief that their future can be different than their past. Your support shines the light of Hope in the grey fog of night. 

And this is God’s kindness: the hope we give, the more hope we have! I know I have a future in Christ. Thank you for shining the light of Hope for Yolanda and Gabby too.

yugm staff photo, mike johnson

In Him,
Mike Johnson, CEO


Article from the YUGM November 2020 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

Scared Stuck

& doing anything to stay alive…

Dennis was born in Kentucky and was adopted twice by the age of 8. Try to imagine that kind of chaos and disruption! Drugs led to criminal activity. The pattern is all too familiar.

Dennis was saved by Jesus in the ‘70s, but change was slow. He knew what he wanted to be, but didn’t know how to become it. So Dennis bounced around the US on the streets, doing anything to avoid pain and stay alive.

Eventually another arrest led Dennis’ probation officer to contact Rick Phillips at the Yakima Union Gospel Mission. Dennis started the Mission’s New Life Program in March of 1999.

Graduating a year later Dennis started volunteering at the Mission. He helped with shelter check in and security. Dennis also began a 14 year career with Yakima Specialties. By the grace of God, Dennis had his sobriety, was growing in his faith, and was taking healthy steps forward. Still Dennis was afraid to take the next step of moving out on his own.

In June of 2018, the Mission created a new program called the Bridge and asked Dennis to join. With some help he began to overcome his fear of change and started seeing that God still had more to give him.

Bridge staff assisted with his health insurance and eventually Dennis got an apartment of his own – his first in over 20 years! Working for the Mission as a night watchman, Dennis now feels the full dignity of paying his own way in the world.

By the grace of God and the help of God’s family, Dennis’ life has come full circle. He faithfully worships with his church family and God is using his life experiences to help others who struggle as he once did.

Rejoice! For our brother Dennis and others like him here at the Mission. Change is possible in Christ; change is real!


Article from the YUGM September 2019 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.

COVID and Elections Shaped 2020

YUGM continued serving through it all.

“I haven’t had my own place to live in years!” says Kevin.

MORE VICTORY INSIDE!

This past year COVID has taken center stage and changed much of the way we do life.


But this year at the Mission we have had the opportunity to witness faithful staff and volunteers who have continued to relentlessly serve, give, and walk with people from the darkest of places into marvelous light. And because of that, we’ve seen lives transformed.


“I haven’t had my own place to live in years!” says Kevin Trapp. On Friday, Nov 2, Mission staff and volunteers helped Kevin and others graduate from YUGM programs and move into their own
apartments.


When he first arrived, he was loaded with debt, out of work, and without a stable place to live. Now, Kevin has paid off his debt, bought a car, and still comes to serve here at the Mission! It’s just one of 37 such stories to come out of YUGM since the first COVID lockdowns started in the US.


“If we can keep up these outcomes without all our usual volunteers, I get really excited thinking about 2021!” says Chelsey Bell, Director of Adult Shelter. “When this vaccine gets out, and more people return…it’s going to be incredible.”


And while many faithful volunteers have made the understandable choice to pause or alter how they serve at the Mission, Dr. John Place felt called to continue providing medical care at YUGM’s free clinic.


The 79-year-old doctor shared his passion for serving during these times, explaining, “Now more than ever, it’s important to be there for people. These people are scared too. They have generally less protection than you do, with their living conditions and health conditions….you want to take care of all the precautions, but this is something where there’s great need.”


In the end, it’s love that spurs on Doctor Place-a love so deep for the people of Yakima that he would fight to stay no matter what comes.

So thank you, dear friends, for staying with us.


Letter From Mike

It’s a new year, and at the Mission we are filled with hope! We have been forged in fire since COVID hit, and I’ve been in awe of what our staff, volunteers, and community partners have accomplished through it all.

We can hardly put into words the anticipation we feel when we think about the bulk of our volunteers being able to return! We have missed so many faces and friends.

The truth is that YOU are the U in Union Gospel Mission! The Mission is nothing more than the shared efforts of thousands of supporters and servants, joining forces to share God’s faithful love with the poorest members of our community.

Yakima has had more than its share of this virus. I praise God that we also have more than our share of incredible people who have kept serving and supporting through it all!

Thank you for all you do. Your prayers, your giving… and your love.

yugm staff photo, mike johnson

In Him,
Mike Johnson, CEO


Article from the YUGM January 2021 Newsletter.

If you would like more stories about our program, feel free to sign up for our email newsletter list located at the bottom of our website.

If you feel moved to help support our program, head over to our Get Involved page to learn how you can make a difference in someone’s life here in Yakima, WA.