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.
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.
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