Bethesda News

Breaking Strongholds

by Scott Dunwoody, Executive Director

I find it interesting how those graduating from our recovery program at our Men’s Shelter often refer to something that most of us aren’t even aware of – the number of steps coming into Bethesda’s historic iconic landmark.

Steps leading up underneath the Green Cross number 13, 14, 15, depending on where you enter. These steps have heightened profound significance for each guest because of the courage it took to walk up them, seeking some answers to life, even though for some they were “digging in their heels”.

The different number of steps represent the uniquely different stories as each graduate willingly testifies to how God has changed their lives; different backgrounds, different locations, different circumstances.

But there are similar themes that run through all of these stories. And this is equally true for the women and the children and teens coming into our refuges.

One of those themes is the battle each guest, and all of us, face as we experience life. This battle is so vividly described in Paul’s writings in 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5: “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but those that have divine power to BREAK STRONGHOLDS. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

If willing to listen, we quickly see that this is not some trivial theoretical battle. Rather, it is a crucial personal battle, one for our minds and hearts to grasp, and it is real.

The other theme is to know the one person we need to depend on to most effectively help us in fighting this battle.

Hear the words of our Directors as they share their impressions in helping guests whom God places at their doorsteps, to break strongholds:

“At the Men’s Mission, we are aware of the numerous visible strongholds we see daily: the addiction to drugs, the behavior it produces, and the power it has over the individual. We rejoice when a person gets clean from these things, but the greatest joy is when we see the Lord set someone free from a stronghold not always visible outwardly but most definitely seen inwardly: bitterness, anger, jealousy, etc. (James 3:14-16). We receive men full of guilt, the guilt of sins committed by them and those committed toward them and that stronghold is a pattern of thought. When we have the joy of seeing a man come to the saving knowledge of Christ and he realizes that his guilt has been nailed to that cross and the stronghold has been disarmed (Col 2:13-15) we too can rejoice with joy as our savior does (Luke 15:10).” — Bill Christian, Men’s Mission

“A thought, a choice, a pattern. Strongholds come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they aren’t intentionally meant to destroy, but to survive at that moment or in that current situation of crisis or trauma. The thought often comes from what we have been taught, what we read or watch, or who we hang around. Thoughts of destruction must be replaced with the truth. It is truth that frees us to live at peace with God, ourselves, and others. Our choices come from understanding our purpose (Romans 12:2b).  When we understand God’s intent for our lives, and our choices begin to reflect that understanding, patterns and thoughts are challenged and changed.  We work and pray on a daily basis at the Women’s Mission to have the strongholds that exist in the lives of our guests to be broken from a life of destruction—set free—and restored to a life of purpose and peace.” — Shelley Brooks, Women’s Mission

At the Community Center, we wage war against the stronghold of culture on a daily basis.  The hard part about this war is that many in the community and the families we serve don’t even know they are inside a stronghold.  They don’t know there is a greater beyond the fortress of their lives.  That is why I am so glad that it is not my power that is needed for tearing down walls.  Through the love of Jesus and the power of His Spirit we see strongholds crumble, brick by brick and stone by stone.  Our youth program is called “Takeover” because, based on 1 Peter 1:18, there is a way of life that has been handed down and needs to be redeemed by the precious blood of Christ!” — Andre Cooper, Community Center

At our Annual Celebration Banquet this September 12, 2019, at the Radisson in Camp Hill, I invite you to come and experience firsthand the testimonies of how God has impacted guests to break negative strongholds, and find their stronghold, refuge and savior in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here’s is what’s in store: a gracious welcome; an always tasty meal; exciting updates on campaigns to expand our facilities to reach to more men, women and children; inspiring worship; heartfelt testimonies; and reflections on the opportunities and challenges lying ahead, and how each attendee can play a part in this venture.

If you are planning to attend our upcoming banquet, please RSVP here.

Will you consider a gift to help us continue spreading this message of real hope to those who are suffering in Harrisburg? Your support allows us to remain a refuge for the homeless, a respite for the hurting, and a place of renewal for the hopeless. Every day we see lives changed by the power of God’s love, and you are an essential part of that transformation. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to support the men, women, and children at Bethesda Mission.


The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior.”  —2 Samuel 22:2-3

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