Mountains & Valleys
Our lives are filled with both mountain top experiences and depths of the valleys – joys and disappointments. It is where life is fully tested, and we ask ourselves what can we learn and have learned from our experiences here in our House of Mercy? One of the most poignant examples in scripture of life lived both on the mountain and in the valley, is from Elijah, as described in 1 Kings 18 and 19. Elijah experienced fatigue and discouragement just after two great spiritual victories in Chapter 18: the defeat of the prophets of Baal, and the answered prayer for rain. Often discouragement sets in after inspiring spiritual experiences, especially those requiring physical effort or involving great emotion. Just after these spiritual victories, we find Elijah running for his life. Queen Jezebel was enraged because her prophets were killed, whom she invested in so heavily, resulting in severe damage to her pride and authority. Discouragement can come at unexpected times and for unexpected reasons (it occurs most often on Mondays, just ask The Mamas and the Papas). Elijah, after running for his life, is found under a broom tree, praying that he might die: “I’ve had enough, Lord. I’m no better than my ancestors.”
Part of being restored, renewed, refreshed, is having our physical and emotional needs cared for.
An angel of the Lord touches Elijah providing something for him to eat, nourishment to go on, just when he needed it most. Each of our guests are provided with physical nourishment for their tactile bodies, but the Overflowing Fountain is given in abundance. They may receive it from hearing an encouraging word from a Life Coach, or seeing a verse jump off the page that may have been read hundreds of times that is suddenly, piercingly accurate to their current circumstances. Other times, it may be while they practice listening for His still, small voice. Cod can and does reveal himself in powerful, miraculous ways, yet to look for Cod only in something big may be to miss him completely. He is often found gently whispering in the quietness of a humbled heart. Our greatest need to be restored, renewed, refreshed, is found in the experience of God’s presence. When we – let alone our hurting guests – discover this, everything changes.
Last August, I highlighted the beautiful story of Elijah, nearing the end of his earthly life, where he asks Elisha what he “shall do unto thee?” As he walks by Elijah’s side, Elisha requests “a double portion, let it fall on me.” Elisha’s reply echoes the cries of every board and staff member at Bethesda, is heard resounding through the walls: “Give me, Lord, a double portion, pour Thy Spirit on me, that each hurting man, woman and child that enters our doors, would indeed find our Savior’s abundant grace, exchanging guilt and shame with his double portion.” We see the Holy Spirit exchanging disgrace with His inheritance; exchanging sin for His forgiveness, hate for His love, pain for His power, hurts for His healing, hopelessness for His eternal hope!
Bethesda Mission is experiencing a double portion as evidenced by significant increases in men, women and kids coming into our shelters and community center. At the Men’s Mission, our numbers have grown from a low of 50s during months of COIVD to 90s, quickly approaching 100-110 (78 permanent beds). Our Women’s Mission, having entered the new shelter, has grown from a low of single digits due to COVID and transitioning into a new facility to the 20s approaching filling the shelter’s capacity of 51 by the end of 2022. At the Community Center, our numbers of eight to ten in each age group during COVID restrictions are now growing to 20-25 in each group – elementary, middle, and high school students. We expect to expand to 100 students total in 2022 and greater in the years to come, along with programming offered to adults as well.
Urgent Women’s Shelter Need
Our Women’s Shelter Renewal is nearing completion and I would like to personally thank you for generously supporting this project! We began by demolishing the two old structures and building a new 18,400 square foot Shelter. This has allowed us to increase our capacity from the former 25 up to 51 women, some who have their children with them. The building has been completed and the women have moved in. We are currently in the final stages of finishing the exterior work which includes a garden, play area for the children, security fence and lighting, and a parking area. Our current situation is that the furniture, fixtures and equipment (FFE) costs have increased, along with an increase in square footage to the building through the addition of a sun room which, a necessity in the recovery process for these hurting women.
To fully fund this project, we still need to raise an additional $317,000.
Update: Praise God, we have raised $140,000 already, $100,000 of that
being an anonymous matching gift. So anything received for this project, will be doubled!
What you, our donors, have accomplished in the life of this House of Mercy called Bethesda, is doubling your impact, enabling us to offer many more opportunities for hurting men, women and kids to experience life recovery, a hope that is grounded in the reality of a loving God and a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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