Bethesda News

Rising from Rubble: Resurrection at Bethesda Mission

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to comfort all who mourn. To give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Rubble and resurrection have always been at the heart of what Bethesda Mission does. Everyone has rubble in their lives that needs to be removed. Bethesda’s guests come to our shelters because they have been crushed by it; Christ’s resurrection paves the way for their lives to be rebuilt and restored. While staying with us, they develop life skills and character that enable them to effectively reintegrate into society and overcome their chaotic pasts.

And they shall rebuild the old ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities (Isaiah 61:4).

Over the past 15 years, Bethesda has been blessed with 17M in capital improvements, through which our guests can experience facilities that are both very functional and aesthetically pleasing. As our guests are working on renewal, so have our facilities been raised up and renewed.

Hear how God is directly working in the lives of our guests and the rooms of our organization by giving new life to people and places once covered in rubble.

Our Community Center

This year, we celebrated the demolition of the Shamrock Firehouse and Youth Center. The building has been serving and saving lives in the surrounding community since its construction in 1908. Originally, community firemen would go, fight fires, and rescue those in need. After it became our Youth Center, it became a place of a different kind of salvation.

One family that has experienced this renewal is Joyce, Haneef, and Elaine, who have been involved with our Community Center for the past six years. All three have grown in their faith through their experiences with us.

Haneef has developed leadership qualities through our programs. He has a deep faith that began at an H20 retreat with our Center. Elaine has developed interpersonal skills. She is compassionate and loves to share her talents for hair styling with other kids.

Their story was shared at our banquet this year, and their video testimony is available to watch online.

Now, we look forward to the resurrection of the building, which will retain its history with an authentic façade using pieces of the original firehouse but reconfigure the inside to be effective as a Community Center. New classrooms and meeting spaces, a large kitchen, and the mezzanine will all benefit the functionality and allow us to vastly increase our reach to families, teens, and kids in need throughout Harrisburg. A multitude of rooms that God can work through are on their way!

Our Women’s Mission

You may remember that we officially opened our new Women’s Shelter last year on August 18. This expansion has allowed us to slowly (but steadily) increase our capacity. We are working hard to get women off the streets or out of abusive homes and into our long-term recovery programs.

Before she came to the Women’s Shelter, Latasha struggled with bipolar disorder, chronic illnesses, and suicidal thoughts. She was overwhelmed and working three jobs to support herself and her daughter, Destini.

By balancing her medications, providing a consistent environment, and encouraging her to read the Word, Latasha’s bipolar disorder symptoms have decreased. She said she’s grateful for the parenting classes we offer and looks forward to developing more independence.

“I don’t have to depend on drugs.” Latasha reflected. “I can rely on the Lord now that I’m sober. [On October 28], I just had my first sober birthday. I’m a new creation in Christ.”

Latasha is also thankful that she wasn’t separated from her daughter. “At a lot of places, the children can’t come, so I appreciate the chance to come with her. I don’t know where I would have ended up if they didn’t allow children here.”

Women in all stages of life have found restoration and hope at Bethesda Mission. Latasha concluded, “I’m grateful to be here. It motivates me to know my dreams can become a reality and that God gives second chances.”

Our Men’s Mission

Last year, our Men’s Mission received a much-needed face lift. The failing facade was restored, and the parking lot was repaved and painted. The Men’s Mission provides long-term shelter for around 100 individuals at a time. Each has come to the Mission facing their own set of unique challenges, but they are all seeking a common solution: Jesus. He can repair the broken and save those in desperate need of help.

One such person is Ronald. Before coming to Bethesda, Ronald struggled with alcoholism and depression. After losing his job because he was unwilling to cut corners at a fabrication company, he fell off a ladder while cleaning out gutters. He damaged many of the vertebrae in his spine. After this incident, he began drinking heavily.

One morning, after a night of excessive drinking, Ronald found his fiancée, Judy, had fallen down the steps and was unresponsive. She was in a coma. She eventually awoke, but she was paralyzed from the neck down. Within a week, they lost the house that they were renting. Ronald went to his friend’s house for a couple days before coming to the Mission.

“[Bethesda Mission] changes people’s lives.” Ronald stated. “They give everyone the tools. I chose to use the tools because it never worked my way.”

Ronald enjoys spending time in the kitchen. When he was younger, he worked at different places as a cook. He has rekindled his interest by cooking with us.
He has been physically restored as well. After his fall and a later incident (during which he broke his hip), he has begun walking again.

“I’m totally a whole different person,” Ronald concluded. “Everything is different—my perspective. I never want to see that old Ron again. I’m not starting a new chapter. I’m starting a new book.”

Ronald, like many of the men that enter our Men’s Mission, has experienced life renewal by the grace of God. He has been physically and spiritually restored. He finally began receiving disability, and he’s looking forward to fishing again.

A Few More Facts

While the government continues to throw billions of dollars at the homeless crisis, Bethesda Mission is getting to the heart of the issue. We’re providing food, shelter, clothing, medical, and dental care to men and women experiencing homelessness and addiction and providing them with the tools to experience life recovery. You can’t always control where your tax dollars go, but you can invest your charitable gifts in an organization that is truly making a difference–one man, one woman, one child at a time.


• We are completely community-funded; no money comes from the government.
Your donation stays local; you are investing directly into the community where you live.
88% of funding goes straight to programs, helped by hundreds of volunteers.
• We’re seeing results: men and women are graduating from our life recovery programs every year and going back into society as independent, contributing members.
• Our impact is growing:
o We take preventative action by investing in Harrisburg’s youth in exciting new ways;
o We provide quality medical and dental care for all of our guests as well as client referrals from other agencies;
o We distribute over 1,500 bags of food and household items every month throughout the region to address the needs of the hungry outside of our facilities;
o And we take basic supplies, food, and encouragement straight to the streets every weekend.


Most of all, we are committed to seeing permanent change take place in the lives of men, women, and children in Harrisburg. This is only possible through God’s grace and the generosity of members of our community like you; your donation makes a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.

May God bless your lives this Holiday Season!

Scott Dunwoody

Executive Director

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