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True-Life Stories of God’s Provision Through You! March / April 2014
Soup for your Soul
MRM: Milwaukee Rescue Mission
Becoming a Godly Man
by Harold
Growing up in Milwaukee, I had a normal childhood — until my father divorced my mom when I was 10. After that, nothing was the same. My father wasn’t there to show me simple things like how to shave or tie a tie. He wasn’t there to encourage me and protect me. He wasn’t there to teach me how to be a man.
So as a teenager, I started hanging with the wrong crowd and got into a lot of trouble, committing burglaries, stealing cars and stuff like that. At 19, I left home for the streets. At night, I slept in the bus station. By day, I made my way up and down Wisconsin Avenue, playing pool for money, hustling card games and selling drugs.
Finding God in Prison
Later I worked more legitimate jobs, got married and divorced a couple of times and even tried to raise kids of my own. But I never stopped dealing drugs.
In 2005, I went to prison for a couple of years. But in prison, God changed my life. I prayed, studied the Bible and led devotions for other inmates.
Several years after prison, however, I started leaving God behind. I stopped going to church and Bible studies. I grew angrier at the world around me, at my life and even at God. I started getting ready to go back to the streets to sell drugs.
Learning to be a Man
But I had a brother living at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission at that time. I visited him one day and learned all about their Christ-centered program. I knew immediately itís what I needed.
From day one, God started working in me through the Bible studies, godly mentors, counselors and even the other guys in the program. I slowly felt the anger fall away. I guess, in a way, the Milwaukee Rescue Mission showed me how to love God and then share Godís love to the world around me. In short, they taught me how to be a man. A godly man.
Back on Track
Diana had a difficult life as a child. Her mom was a single teenage mother and struggled financially. Diana’s “granny” stepped in on several occasions to help raise her while Diana’s mom pursued other goals. Her granny died, however, when Diana was 12.
“They both left me a valuable legacy,” Diana says. “Education is crucial. My whole focus was on school.” She was an honor roll student and was heavily involved in sports, including tennis, volleyball and track.
Her goal was to become a police officer, and she went
to college to study criminal science. But her plans changed when she had her first child at 18. Working, going to school and raising a child were too much, so she dropped out. At age 26, with more children, including triplets, she was a struggling single parent. When the job market crashed in 2008, she soon found herself unemployed and homeless.
With winter coming fast, she knew she couldn’t live out of her car. “I reluctantly chose to swallow my pride and come to Joy House. But that turned out to be the greatest thing I could have done. They gave me the spiritual foundation I needed, as well as the time I needed, to get my life back on track,” Diana recalls.
She started pursuing her dreams again and took the first step by earning her license as an armed security guard. Now she is back in college, studying criminal science. She also enrolled her kids in MRMís elementary school, Cross Trainers Academy, holding to her belief that education is important. In addition, Diana just moved into her new home, which she is proudly renting to own.
“The Milwaukee Rescue Mission gave me a second chance when I didn’t think I had one,” Diana says. “Without Joy House, I wouldn’t be here telling my story. I am blessed with good kids, good health and new dreams for my life. Thank you!”
God With Us
Itís March, and many Christians are walking the long, contemplative Lenten journey. Sometimes I try to put myself in the place of Christís disciples in those days before Good Friday. What a roller coaster they must have experienced, from the joy of Palm Sunday to the despair they felt after their King was crucified. To them, with their dreams dashed, it must have felt like life wasnít turning out the way they hoped.
Many of our guests here at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission certainly understand that kind of despair. Because of addictions, abuse, bad choices or tragic events, their lives didn’t turn out the way they hoped. Their hopes and dreams have died.
But thankfully, there IS hope. We call it Easter, when Jesus rose again, bringing God’s promise of new life and salvation for everyone who believes. And thousands of our guests over the years have experienced that hope and new life too. God’s love is so extravagant!
What a privilege you and I have to offer food, shelter and clothing to all the hurting men, women and children who come to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission seeking help. But the greatest privilege of all is leading our guests to the foot of the Cross . . . and then to love them as the truth of Christ’s resurrection — of Easter morning — takes root in their lives and they, too, experience the reality of new creation.
Hallelujah, Christ is risen!
I thank God for you,
Patrick H. Vanderburgh
Executive Director