Blessings to you and yours! As I think about the “yours” of that last phrase, I think about family – both family by blood and family by love. Sometimes, in the brokenness of this world, families drift apart. Addiction, homelessness, and incarceration, among other challenges, have a way of driving families apart even farther. It can get lonely. But thankfully, the Lord delights to place those who are lonely in families. Psalm 68:5-6 says it this way, “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, He leads forth the prisoners with singing…” This is what He does at the Mission all the time!
There is healing that happens in relationship. As men come to the Mission and form deep bonds of love and friendship with fellow residents, the Lord has a way of lessening the loneliness. Many times, as men grow and change while working hard to rebuild their lives at the Mission, opportunities to reconnect with long lost family arise. But when that happens, sometimes it comes with new waves of grief. Some men reconnect with family only to find out that while they were lost to the streets or their addiction, a loved one died, and they are now buried and gone. Sometimes that loved one is a parent or grandparent, or perhaps an aunt who raised them.
Our own Rev. Dr. Bob Emberger’s sister, Kay, recently passed away. Keep him in prayer. Losing a loved one is always hard, but it’s especially difficult to officiate at their funeral as Bob did for Kay. By God’s grace, the Embergers are blessed with the gift of family in the midst of their grief, including a brother/uncle/father/cousin in Bob who could minister to them and point them to the sustaining love of Jesus in the midst of their sorrow. But imagine the added layer of sorrow for someone who misses out on the support that comes from being together as a family in the midst of their grief. When this happens to our men, they are left to grieve alone. It’s at times like these that the Mission family naturally and spontaneously reaches out to surround and uphold their brother. They encourage and help one another like family.
Thank you for your part in making it possible for the Mission to be such a safe, rich, and nurturing family. May God bless and keep you and yours!
Grace and peace,
Heather L. Rice, D.Min.