Author Archives: Whosoever Gospel Mission

From the Director ~ September 2021

Thank you for your prayers, your support and your friendship!

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Our current fiscal year, October 1, 2020 – September 30, 2021, has at times been a wild roller coaster ride. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to profoundly impact the Mission in our daily operations (e.g., no volunteer youth groups, required mask wearing and social distancing, no outside churches conducting chapel services or providing special dinners, COVID testing for residents and staff, quarantine and isolation rooms for residents infected with COVID or waiting for their test results, etc.). The Mission itself suffered its own COVID outbreak in December with 7 residents and 6 staff members getting sick; our counselor Joe McAvinney and I were hospitalized, Joe for 8 days and me for 6 days. On a personal note, I had a lot of medical tests and procedures in the first part of 2021 and ended up having major open heart surgery on May 14th to replace my prematurely worn out artificial aortic valve (I am still recovering from the surgery and not yet back to my pre-surgery work schedule). And sadly, we got word that 6 of our former residents/graduates died this past year; two of them were former staff members.

But through all of this, God was faithful, and you, our friends, stood with us. On behalf of the Whosoever Gospel Mission, please accept my heartfelt thanks for your fervent prayers, your generous support, and your encouraging friendship. Our fiscal year ends on September 30, 2021. Thank you for helping us to weather a stormy year, and to also celebrate with us all of the good things that happened in and through the Mission in spite of these hardships. We were able to share God’s love in word and deed with the 45-55 homeless men who lived at the Mission on any given day. Our services to our residents were never interrupted. In fact, they even increased. One of our newest initiatives is to provide 50% of a man’s security deposit for an apartment when he is ready to graduate. Many of our men need to pay 2-3 months’ rent up-front as a security deposit to move into their own apartment. We feel compelled by the love of Jesus to help our men with this huge expense. Not all of our residents graduate, but those who do will be helped in a huge way. We are hoping to get foundation grants and donations from friends such as you to fund this new endeavor to secure decent housing for our graduates.

In closing, I want to give a shout out to all of our staff who kept the Mission going throughout all of these troubles and trials. Not one staff member ever complained or failed to show up for work. I want to give special recognition to Dr. Heather L. Rice, our Associate Executive Director, who has so aptly directed the Mission during my convalescence. Heather first started volunteering at the Mission as a freshman at Central High School in 1993. She earned her bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees while working at the Mission. She even turned down a full scholarship as a full-time student working on a PhD at Temple University in order to continue working at the Mission while going to school part time for her doctorate. Heather has faithfully served at the Mission for 28 years and is poised to be my successor as Executive Director when I retire from full-time ministry in less than two years. She has already even offered me a part-time job!

Thank you again for standing with us this past year. As we end our fiscal year on September 30th and begin our new fiscal year on October 1st, we need your continued prayers, your continued financial support, and your continued friendship. We will be sure to celebrate with you all of the good things that the Lord will accomplish in and through the Whosoever Gospel Mission.

With gratitude and joy,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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Take a Video Tour of the Mission!

An oldie, but a goodie. We are working on a new tour video, but for folks looking for a glimpse inside the Mission, here’s a peek (and yes, we all look about 13 years younger here!)

Mission Tour 2009 from K2 Media on Vimeo.

Get a first-hand tour of daily life around the Mission.

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From the Associate Director ~ July 2021

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Happy summer! Things are perking along nicely here at the Mission. We recently had the pleasure of celebrating with Aaron, our newest New Life Program graduate, as he moved out into his own apartment. Vince and William are looking to graduate and move out soon. Ten others are employed and working on their budgets while they save up and start their apartment hunt. There’s a growing excitement around the Mission as the job market seems to be opening up and more men are finding work.

We’re also pleased to report that after a year-long hiatus, we were able to once again have students from Drexel School of Medicine run a health screening clinic at the Mission. They saw about 24 of our residents on a Saturday morning in June. Each resident was able to review his medications, get his blood pressure and blood sugar checked, review his general health, and speak with an on-site physician about any concerns. We’re also excited to have Great Faith Vision scheduled to come back on July 31st to offer full eye exams (complete with free prescription eye glasses!) to any of our residents who need them.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes right now is that you’re hearing from me, and not from Executive Director Bob Emberger. Much has transpired since Bob last wrote you in May! He had a successful surgery on May 14th to remove his failing artificial aortic valve, replace it with a larger one, and do one coronary artery bypass. Recovery has been slow and not without its ups and downs. But all in all, Bob is doing well. I speak with him daily, often relaying messages of encouragement from friends such as yourself. We’re glad Bob is on the mend, but we miss him here at the Mission. Lord willing, he will be back on-site with us in August.

Even though we’re short staffed without Bob at the helm, we are grateful for the team the Lord has brought together here at the Mission. I’d like to introduce you to one such team member, our dorm supervisor, Mark Reeder. You can read about him here. The Lord blesses us through Mark every day. I trust you’ll be blessed, too. Thank you for your partnership in this great work. Together, by God’s grace, as Mark says, we can “carry on!”

Grateful to “carry on” with you!

Heather L. Rice, D.Min.
Associate Executive Director

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“Carry On”

“Carry on!” That’s Mark’s trademark phrase. It means, “We’re on the same page. We’ve got a plan. Something good is in the works.” As our dorm supervisor, it often comes out as a word of hope after stopping to pray with and encourage someone who’s struggling after-hours in the dorms.

Mark isn’t unfamiliar with the struggle. He came to the Mission homeless and addicted himself. But through the work of Jesus in his life, Mark is a new man. Before coming, he was adrift. “Every time I looked up, I was further behind than before.” Then he came to the Mission and he found the structure, love, community, and direction he needed.

His family stopped worrying about him and started allowing him to hang around and get close, especially to his grandkids. They saw that he was changed. They knew he was safe. Now, those grands are his joy! They mean the world to him, and he means the world to them!

Today, his passion is to bless, encourage, and help everyone he can in any way he can. Mark’s presence here at the Mission is a big part of how we show the love of Jesus to the men who come looking for help and hope.

Mark is always looking for ways to bless and encourage others. He spared no expense out of his own pocket to provide the men this amazing feast Memorial Day weekend.
Mark is always looking for ways to bless and encourage others. He spared no expense out of his own pocket to provide the men this amazing feast Memorial Day weekend.
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Executive Director Surgery Update

Thanks for praying, friends! Bob had a successful surgery on Friday, May 14th to replace his failing artificial aortic valve with a new larger one, and to give him one bypass.

Recovery is slow and painful, but is on track thus far. He is not able to receive visitors, but cards can be mailed to the Mission at PO Box 48308, Philadelphia, PA 19144.

Bob thanks everyone for their love and prayers!

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From the Director ~ May 2021

Dear Friend of the Mission,

You might recall that chest pain and trouble breathing is what brought me to Abington Hospital on Sunday, December 20, 2020. I was diagnosed with COVID and was admitted to the hospital for six days through Christmas until my discharge on December 26, 2020. During my hospitalization, my cardiologist told me that once I recovered from COVID, we needed to find out why I experienced chest pain. COVID was obviously stressing my heart, but my cardiologist was concerned about my underlying heart conditions. I have an 8 year old artificial aortic valve and coronary artery disease with a total of 7 stents. Since the end of January, I made two additional trips to the hospital with one five-day admission and a bunch of diagnostic tests. The results are all in. Yesterday, I saw a cardiothoracic surgeon at Abington Hospital. My artificial aortic valve is wearing out prematurely and will need to be replaced through open heart surgery. The less invasive TAVR procedure is unfortunately not an option for me. My surgeon is also going to try to enlarge the area of the aorta in which my artificial valve is placed in order to give me a larger aortic valve which would improve blood flow. In addition, since my stents will not last forever (two in fact are completely closed in one artery), my surgeon is going to try to do up to three coronary artery bypasses. He won’t know how many he can do until he actually sees my heart. I would certainly appreciate your prayers. This is a big surgery that is quite a bit more complicated and difficult than the open heart surgery I had 8 years ago to replace my aortic valve. But I am resting in the truths of Psalm 121 – the Lord is my help and sure hope.

As it stands now, my surgery will be on Wednesday, May 12th. I should be in the hospital for about 6 days and convalescing at home for the better part of 3 months. I want to thank you in advance for your prayers and your ongoing financial support of the Whosoever Gospel Mission. The Mission is in good hands with the Lord and with my dedicated staff. As our Associate Executive Director, Dr. Heather L. Rice, who has served in various capacities at the Mission since 1993, will be directing the Mission in my absence. In fact, Heather has been appointed as my successor when I retire from full-time ministry at the Mission in about two years (she has already offered me a part-time job writing grant applications to private foundations!). I have enjoyed watching Heather grow up serving the Lord at the Mission from a young 13 year old freshman in Central High School into an extremely gifted and highly qualified godly woman. By God’s grace, the Mission is in excellent shape with Heather at the helm

Resting in the love of Jesus,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ March 2021

Dear Friend of the Mission,

January and February of 2020 were good months at the Mission. We were rejoicing in all of the special activities and events our men were able to enjoy during the 2019 Christmas holidays. Our annual thank you letter in February included a “save the date” notice for our annual Night of Celebration which is usually held in April. And then COVID hit. I remember when we were required to close our two thrift stores as nonessential businesses. Our ministry to homeless men was viewed as an essential business, and we stayed open. But we had to lay off 6 staff members, and over the next several months we lost over $150,000.00 in thrift store income. With our 55-beds for homeless men, we worked hard to keep COVID-19 out of the Mission. We implemented all sorts of policies and procedures to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. While many non-profits and businesses were able to keep their staff safe by closing down and working virtually from home, this was impossible for us to do as a long-term residential program for homeless men. Our staff members were and still are wonderful – none of them complained about risking their health and 100% of our staff showed up for work every day. By the very nature of our ministry, our staff and residents mixed and mingled together. We were careful and all wore masks and practiced social distancing, but the very nature of our ministry requires in-person interactions. By God’s grace, COVID-19 stayed out of the Mission for 8 months, and then in late November, COVID got into the Mission. We experienced our own mini-epidemic in December. Six residents and six staff came down with COVID. I ended up in the hospital for six days over Christmas. But through it all, the Mission stayed open, and our ministry to broken and hurting homeless men continued without interruption.

I do not have enough words to thank each of you for standing with us in 2020 and doing so much to support us and to keep us going. Some days we were “limping” along, but through your fervent prayers, your generous financial support, and your abundant donations of food, cleaning supplies, masks, and everything else we needed to fulfill our ministry, our doors are still open, we are still loving our men with the love of Christ, and broken and hurting people are tasting the goodness of the Lord. Thank you for all that you did for us in 2020!

Grateful and still pressing on,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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A COVID Christmas Update

Here at the Mission, we’ve had a different holiday season than we anticipated! Five residents and six staff members all contracted COVID in December. The Lord has very mercifully been teaching us that when we are weak, then He is strong! We are happy to report good news all around.

Executive director Bob Emberger was among the sick and was hospitalized for 6 days of treatment. He has responded well and is back to the Mission as he continues to build up his stamina.

The other staff who had been infected are all doing well and are either officially back to work or scheduled to be so within a week. All of our sick residents have recovered and as of today, we have no known COVID cases onsite! All tremendous answers to prayer!!!

Now, we can look to rescheduling our special Christmas lunch and give out the rest of the wonderful gifts everyone collected for our residents! Stay tuned for photos of our delayed Christmas festivities (safely distanced, of course!) in the next couple of weeks. We think we’ll leave our trees up in the chapel and lobby until then!

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From the Director ~ Christmas 2020

Dear Friend of the Mission,

I love Christmas! I love the cookies, the decorations, the glorious Christmas carols (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is my favorite!), the fun and festive music of the season (Deck the Halls!), the sparkling lights, special gatherings with friends and family, my children and grandchildren traveling from all over the country back home to Philadelphia to celebrate Christmas with my wife and me, special chapels and dinners at the Mission provided by visiting churches, the giving and receiving of gifts, special church services packed with people, and of course my favorite Christmas movies – the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is by far my favorite (I have about 12 versions of it including the Muppet Christmas Carol!). I especially love preaching at Christmas. I never get tired of the Christmas story, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:11).

Because of COVID-19, in so many ways this Christmas will be quite a bit different from other Christmases. There will be smaller and even canceled church services, none of my children or grandchildren traveling from afar to come home for Christmas, no special gatherings with friends and family, no special chapels and dinners at the Mission provided by visiting churches, and no hearty singing of Christmas carols in the Mission’s chapels. I will miss these things, but I still rejoice that the heart of Christmas remains the same even during a pandemic: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” A virus may be able to take away many of the external trappings of Christmas – large church services, special gatherings and fun festivities with friends and family – but it cannot take away what Christmas is truly all about – “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” May you and yours experience the joy and wonder of Christmas 2020. With the pandemic surging around the country, the angel’s words to the shepherds carry extra weight and hope, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people…” (Luke 2:10). And in spite of the pandemic, I am still going to eat some Christmas cookies, watch the Christmas Carol, and joyfully sing in my own house, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”

As we quickly move toward the end of 2020, please consider making a special gift to the Mission so that we can give our men the joy and hope of Christmas each and every day throughout the coming New Year. Here are several great ways you can help:

  1. Give a generous year-end gift of cash. God will use your gift to impact and change lives.
  2. Some families bless our men by pooling their money and giving a special Christmas gift to the Mission from their family (individual receipts for each donor can still be given).
  3. If God has especially blessed you this past year, please consider sending a larger than usual gift to the Mission. Large gifts take big bites out of our budgeted expenses. They also strengthen and expand our compassionate services to our men. Your gift will be used to make life-giving, life-changing, and life-saving differences in the lives of our men.
  4. Give the Mission a gift of appreciated stock. A gift of appreciated stock is always a great help and can also provide you with some excellent tax benefits, especially if you transfer the stock directly to the Mission rather than first selling it. Please consult with your financial advisor to confirm these tax benefits. We can easily arrange for an electronic transfer of your stock. Please call me at 215 438 3094 (ext 102).
  5. If you have a donor-advised fund, you can recommend that a grant be made to the Whosoever Gospel Mission. Your grant will bless our men in many ways.
  6. You can make up to a $100,000 Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to the Mission instead of taking your required minimum distribution (RMD). Your distribution must be sent by your IRA custodian directly to the Mission. The effect in most situations is both an income tax savings and an increased gift. Please consult with your financial advisor.
  7. Save postage and time – you can go to our Whosoever Gospel Mission website to make an online donation. You can also set up a monthly recurring donation for 2021.
  8. Make your online purchases through AmazonSmile which is run by Amazon.com as a unique way to support charities. You will get the same service, same merchandise, and the same prices. Register with AmazonSmile and designate the Whosoever Gospel Mission to receive a percentage of all the eligible purchases you make on AmazonSmile. You can search for the Mission on AmazonSmile, or you can type in the following link: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/23-1352579. You won’t pay any more for your purchases, but you will be helping the Whosoever Gospel Mission.
  9. Make a gift to the Mission through PayPal Giving Fund. Search “Donate with PayPal Giving Fund” or go to PayPal Giving Fund’s website: www.paypal.com/us/fundraiser/huband search “Whosoever Gospel Mission.” We get the full value of your donation – PayPal doesn’t charge us any fees.

Christmas will be here and gone before we know it. But through your kind and generous support, the peace, hope and joy of Christmas will continue throughout the New Year in the lives of our men. Jesus is the reason for the season, but He is also our hope and joy for the rest of the year. Our men truly do thank you for your kind and generous support.

As we finish out 2020 and begin 2021, my prayer for you is that the Lord will abundantly bless you and your loved ones with good health, much happiness and great success in all of your endeavors. COVID-19 made 2020 a very hard and challenging year for the Mission. Thank you for standing with us. Your generous support kept the Mission alive and was used by the Lord to bless the 184 broken and hurting homeless men who lived at the Mission in 2020. Your gift also blessed their families, their friends and society as a whole as our men became responsible, contributing members of our community.

Wishing you the joy and hope of Christmas,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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From the Director ~ Thanksgiving 2020

Executive Director Bob Emberger making his famous 10-cheese Mac & Cheese for our Thanksgiving Feast

Dear Friend of the Mission,

Because of COVID-19, our Thanksgiving Day celebration is going to be quite a bit different this year. We normally have a big crowd of 130-140 people – our residents, volunteers, friends of the Mission, New Life Program graduates, staff members, and family members of our staff and residents. I have celebrated 31 Thanksgivings at the Mission, and it is always one of the highlights of my year. When my four kids were still living at home, our Thanksgiving Day dinner was always at the Mission. But this year, in order to protect our residents from COVID-19 possibly being brought unknowingly into the Mission by an asymptomatic visitor, we are going to limit our Thanksgiving Day celebration to just our 55 residents and a few staff. A good number of our residents are medically vulnerable – they would probably die if they caught COVID-19. So the most loving thing we can do is to be extra, extra careful for their sake.

But we are still going to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving Day feast fit for a King (the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!). Our Thanksgiving Day feast includes roasted turkey, homemade gravy, seven-cheese macaroni (which I make every year), creamy mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, savory stuffing with cranberries (which I also make from scratch every year), green beans almondine, buttered corn, rolls & butter, cranberry sauce, apple cider, and an amazing assortment of desserts – pies, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, and candy.

With the relentless COVID-19 pandemic and all of the turmoil and trouble in our country, we work hard every day to make the Mission a safe haven and a peaceable refuge for all of our men. Recently in one of our Overcomers meetings (i.e., our drug and alcohol support groups), one of our residents shared his testimony. He thanked the Lord for the peace and quiet of the Mission in contrast to “the craziness that is going on out there in the streets.”

Thank you for your support which makes it possible for our men to enjoy a delicious Thanksgiving Day feast in a safe and peaceable home. And because of your support, the Mission is a refuge and safe haven from the “craziness of the streets” not just on Thanksgiving Day, but 365 days a year. As we celebrate Thanksgiving 2020, we give thanks to the Lord for you as a friend and for your kind and generous support. Please pray and give generously. Every gift counts and will be used to bless, encourage, equip and help our men move forward in life.

Thanking God for you,

Robert A. Emberger, D.Min.
Executive Director

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