On Thursday, December 20th, our chapel was transformed into a toy store and 54 of our New Life Program residents and graduates selected and wrapped about 1,500 gifts for 201 of their kids. See some of the joy and excitement as men reach out to rebuild and strengthen bridges to family and home.
Here at the Whosoever Gospel Mission, we have so much to be thankful for. Every day we experience the Lord’s blessing as He works to free men from their addictions and open doors of opportunity. We have the privilege of watching as He breathes new life into men who are weary and homeless, those who have been battered by the world.
We’re also thankful that God continues to provide our daily bread. He used you, our friends, to pull us out of a HUGE deficit. We never skipped a meal; our doors never shut. We give thanks.
It’s easy to be thankful for these things. But sometimes, when we’re in the midst of hard things, giving thanks is more of a sacrifice.
When we’re in the midst of great adversity and our hearts are overwhelmed with fear, anxiety, loneliness, anger or self-pity, we don’t feel like giving thanks. But the Lord invites us to call on Him while we make a sacrifice of thanksgiving – while we choose to thank Him in spite of what we’re feeling. Then our hearts find the freedom to truly sing songs of thanksgiving.
This would be impossible if not for Jesus, our Great Sacrifice, who gave Himself up for us. Emmanuel – God with us – the One who conquers sin and death by rising again – proves that He can be trusted with our lives, families, dreams and futures. He walks with us through the good times as well as the hard times.
Here at the Mission, we have the joy of seeing God do just that as He works in the hearts and lives of men, producing sacrifices of thanksgiving in the midst of life’s joys and adversities.
This Thanksgiving, may the same be true of us all! God’s richest blessings to you and your family as you give Him thanks!
New Life Program resident Alton enjoys a visit with his family this summer
The men who come to the Whosoever Gospel Mission looking for help and a way forward are sons and fathers, brothers and cousins, husbands, nephews, uncles, grandfathers and grandsons. Addiction and homelessness can eat away at these relationships leaving both the men and their families grieving the loss.
But there is hope! Jesus is the great Reconciler. Here at the Mission we get to see God at work restoring relationships and rebuilding families as men work hard by God’s grace to rebuild trust, make themselves vulnerable, and repair broken relationships.
Alton hasn’t had much to do with his family for ten years – not since he moved out when he was 18 years old. Over the years, his dad has tried to reach out to him, but Alton would never respond. He spent the next ten years living mostly in the streets until coming to the Mission.
Alton & his dad ride a roller coaster during Alton’s recent trip home to spend time with family in NY
Alton shares that he’s thankful for the counseling he receives here at the Mission. It’s given him a chance to talk with someone who loves him and is willing to listen. He found himself able to trust his counselor and open up about hurts he had been holding on to for a long time.
With counsel, Alton was able to begin seeing things from a new perspective. Since coming to the Mission, Alton has made two trips home to New York to spend time with family, and both were a blessing!
Here are a few highlights of our summer!
Cordie graduates from the Program
Robert graduates from the Program
Cordie and Robert both faced big health challenges while at the Mission. While they were here, they accessed the medical care they needed and worked hard to get back on their feet. Both Cordie and Robert had long journeys to moving into their own places and graduating. But move out and graduate they did! We celebrated their graduation with cake and balloons, the sharing of testimonies, singing, and a charge to the graduates from God’s Word. Cordie & Robert both encouraged the men currently enrolled in the New Life Program to press on and stay the course. We praise God for Cordie and Robert!
Dr. Donna examines Craig’s eyes
In June, Dr. Donna Elcock and her wonderful team from Great Faith Vision came and provided complete eye care for free to 29 of our men, including prescription glasses. It’s easier to work on rebuilding your life when you can see! We thank God for Dr. Donna and her team!
2nd graders from William Penn Charter School earned money to buy plants for our garden. We are looking forward to enjoying fresh salads and other dishes from our homegrown bounty this summer.
Ray keeps on learning
Ray Johnson learned how to read for the first time at the age of 50 here at the Mission. Now he’s learning to use a computer. He’s proud & excited to be moving forward. Ray continues to work with Mission teachers & tutors to strengthen his skills.
Supporting men on their journey to becoming Overcomers
Men huddle to pray at the close of an Overcomers support group meeting
“Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on.”
On top of being homeless, many of the men who come to the Mission find themselves ensnared in a life-and-death battle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
The battle isn’t easy. That’s where our Overcomers Drug & Alcohol Recovery Support Groups come in. It’s one more way we seek to offer a hand-up and not just a hand-out.
Here’s what being a part of our Overcomers means to a few of our men:
William: “Before I came into the program, I felt all alone. In Overcomers, people know how I feel. I’m thankful for my fellow Overcomer’s ears.”
Doug: “The Overcomers meetings provide me with Christ-centered recovery support & fellowship. It’s a close family. It has brought me closer to Jesus Christ.”
Rodney: “In the group, iron sharpens iron. The Overcomers meeting allows me to keep pressing on.”
Roger: Overcomers is “a constant reminder to me that I am not alone in this struggle.”
Each year, we put out over $16.5K in essential carfare expenses for men in our New Life Program to access medical care and education, to find employment, and to take care of legal issues.
This is what free access to transportation means to a homeless man working hard to get back on his feet:
Brelan – “I’ve had to go to court at 13th & Filbert twice so far, and I go next week, too. If I didn’t have SEPTA tokens to get there, there would e a warrant for my arrest.” Now, as Brelan works hard to do the right and get his life on track, he can focus on putting one step in front of the other and moving forward.
Isaiah & Mike – Isaiah and Mike are both facing surgery on their hands. Mike lost the tip of his finger from an injury he sustained. Isaiah broke his hand and found out it needs to be set with a pin. Neither one would have taken care of their injuries without carfare to get to the hospital. Now, they can get proper treatment to heal.
UPDATE: Both Isaiah and Mike have had their surgeries and are healing well.
Leonard – The Mission provided carfare for Leonard to get to and from school for orientation and classes, and to go job hunting. Now, Leonard is glad he has the means to purchase his own SEPTA key card for his part time job and school. He couldn’t have gotten started on this path without the transportation help up front.
Michael – Michael is an accomplished chef. He did much of his job searching strategically online. But eventually he needed to go to an interview at Wesley Enhanced Living – Pennypack where he cooked his way into a job at his 2nd interview. Without carfare, his new job would not have been possible.
For men experiencing homelessness, the holidays can be a hard. The Mission family wishes to extend a great big THANK YOU to everyone who gave to make this Christmas special for the men of the Whosoever Gospel Mission and their families.
Check out this short video that gives you a taste of our Christmas celebration.
When someone struggles with unemployment, an addiction, or other issues that can end up leading to homelessness, family relationships suffer. Many of the men here at the Mission working hard to overcome these and other barriers to successful, productive, independent living desire to rebuild and strengthen those relationships – especially with their children.
Because of the generosity of countless donors, this Christmas residents and graduates of the New Life Program lovingly selected and wrapped approximately 1,550 gifts for 227 of their children. The gifts are from the men – not the Mission. Each toy purchased and donated to the Mission is a gift to a dad – it’s the gift of being a dad, of having the joy of giving a present to his child.
It’s also a gift to a kid – the gift of a dad – a dad with whom to play catchphrase or Candy Land or to throw that football.
Thank you, all who gave! Here are a few photos of the festivities:
Enjoying the fellowship at our 2016 Thanksgiving Day Feast
When asked what they’re thankful for, this is what our men shared:
- The opportunity to get myself together
- Being clean today
- God’s love
- A place to be while I deal with my health problems
- Grace and mercy
- That Christ forgave me
- Peace of mind
- Being clean and sober
- A Savior that loves me no matter what I do
- Having good people around me
- The opportunity to come here and reestablish who I am
- A place to call homes
- The opportunity to interact with people here at the Mission
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Thank you for helping to make these blessings and so many others possible.
From our family to yours,
As they spoke to a packed chapel of (cheering) residents, staff and families at the Whosoever Gospel Mission, Wentz and Maragos both shared how Jesus gave them new life. Now their heart’s desire is to live in awe of Him and no one else. He is the One they want to make famous.
They admitted that fame can be intoxicating (they would know!). It’s also fleeting. When we live in awe of people or money or worldly goods, we end up disappointed. But when we live in awe of Jesus – the One who gave Himself for us, the One who is truly worthy of our worship and awe – then we can find and enjoy our proper place in this world. The struggle to deny ourselves and our own pride is tough, though. Thankfully, it’s not one we face alone.
We need to be rooted in the Word of God.
Maragos shared Jesus’ prayer to the Father in John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth. Your Word is truth.” God uses His Word to peel back the layers of our hearts and lives, to wash us and renew us, to make us more like Jesus as we walk in Him. We need to diligently study the Bible and ask God to teach us through His Word.
We need each other.
Walking with Jesus is not something we do alone. It’s like a team sport – we need each other to reach the goal. What’s the goal? Making the name of the Lord famous in all the earth as we share the love of Jesus with everyone!
How do we accomplish the goal? We accomplish it as the whole Body of Christ works together in the church, building each other up as we seek to love God and others. It’s a church where a homeless man in a rescue mission working to rebuild his life and a famous NFL football player at the top of his game have the same rights, responsibilities, privileges and power. Jesus levels the playing field.
Let’s make His Name famous!