Yesterday I had the honor of spending two hours at the Hope Rescue Mission in the city of Reading. Hope was the first organization to respond to my emails about interviews for Overcome. I drove through the city running a few minutes behind schedule, my mind scattered from the jumble of things we were attempting to do to get reorganized after returning from vacation. It was a beautiful afternoon. Val was at home with the kids and I was a mix of excitement and nerves. I had a pad and pen next to me and the intent to just go in and ask questions as they came. Planning, as you can tell, is not my strong suit.
There are moments in life where we feel disconnected. It doesn’t take much for the impulse to kick in. It can arrive in the voice of shame and doubt, internally or externally from friends or family members. It can be a whisper or scream. It will tell you everything you need to hear to distract you from your goal. There are ways to silence this impulse and they are valuable to remember.
I entered the Mission, a large building over a century old, and met with the director and associate director. Frank Grill, the associate director, took me on a tour of the place. Frank is a worship leader, man of God, and runs weekly discipleship classes for the men who live there. He is quick to smile and I can hear a taste of his Philadelphia roots as we speak.
He tells me story after story of community organizations who answered God’s calling to donate needed items. They receive food daily from area restaurants. A local McDonald’s donated enough tiles to redo the kitchen. Frank managed the expansion of the housing unit and was puzzled as to where they would get the furniture. He told me that a manager from the Comfort Inn called and asked him if they could use any furniture as the Inn was refurnishing all of their rooms. He sent over the donation trucks and they were able to outfit thirty rooms, all for free.
“We figure that God will provide what we need when we are meant to have it,” he said. I met men from all walks of live who had fallen on hard times. They were learning valuable skills and ways to get on their feet. A key focus of the Mission is a hand UP not a hand OUT. Frank told me that they are guided through prayer and the Holy Spirit. As the tour finished I could feel God in the building. The work they do is sacred and powerful and I am so blessed that they will be a part of the book.
When you are feeling disconnected, remember three things we can learn from Frank and the Hope Rescue Mission:
1/Meet with God Daily: The men are mentored by pastors and community volunteers. They are focused on prayer, chapel services, and the Bible. One man in the kitchen told Frank that his mother called him yesterday for the first time in four years. His voice shook with emotion. “See what prayer can do?” Frank said.
2/Know that God will Provide: The Mission houses more than sixty men. It provides a gym, computer lab, library, and career training services. All of these resources are possible through donations. God will provide in time. If he can furnish thirty rooms at a Mission for free, imagine what he can do with your daily needs.
3/Use the Past as Fuel: The Mission was once a corporate building for the Reading Railroad. The CEO held offices in the room behind the chapel. They had elaborate parties and social events. The lower floor was a bowling alley. The railroad eventually ended. The money flowed out of the city. Now new social events are happening. Men are finding God on a daily basis. They are gaining new purpose in life, overcoming addiction, and climbing their way towards stability. What would the railroad CEO say if he saw the building today? God can use the past, all of your ups and downs, to do something great in the present and the future.
I left the Mission inspired and refreshed. These stories are dying to be told. There is light in the darkness. These are the front lines of the battle against poverty and my goal is to capture as much as possible and put it in print. This journey is only beginning. Overcome is happening and I can’t wait to see how far it reaches and how many people are inspired.
Have a blessed night,