Bethesda News

The Greatest Story Ever Told

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“Greatest Story Ever Told” : This House of Mercy’s Story Is that Story

 The Grateful Dead’s song titled the “Greatest Story Ever Told” isn’t the version that Bethesda Mission shares with every hurting man, woman or child who enters our doors. Their song does include some OT biblical names – Abraham, Isaac, Moses and Gideon are in the lyrics, although the context is very different from holy scripture – eg. Moses come ridin’ up on a quasar (astronomical object of very high luminosity found in the centers of some galaxies), his spurs were jingling, the door was ajar, his buckle was silver, his manner was bold. Even Grateful Dead groupies say they can’t make heads or tails on what this version of the Greatest Story Ever Told is about.

Some of our guests when they first come may know much more about the lyrics of this song than verses from the greatest and most prolific selling story of all time (the Bible, which has sold over 5 billion copies). Another line in the song says, “I asked him for water, he poured me some wine”. Our guests learn not only of Jesus’ first miracle, but that when Jesus was hanging from the cross, as he asked the Roman guards for a drink of water; instead, they filled a sponge with old wine (vinegar) and put it to his lips.

Our staff and many volunteers welcome the opportunity to share the greatest story ever told as they listen to the stories of our guests, discerning how best to offer them what they really need: physically, emotionally and spiritually. What we give and offer up to each hurting man, woman or child, because of our love for Jesus, is the possibility that they may discover a new kind of life, one transformed by the power of God. As our guest’s lives are changed, what we receive in return, countless times, is reminiscent of these two wonderful examples:

— boy gave up 2 fishes & 5 loaves – Lord turned what he gave into a feast feeding 15,000 (includes women and children)

— Joseph of Arimathea gave up a tomb – what returned – Oh my, Jesus, savior of the world, redeeming mankind by conquering death and coming alive

At our Annual Banquet in September, experienced by nearly 400, with the theme –“Celebrating the Goodness of God”, the vision and mission of this lifeline for hurting people was shared through phrases, images, and stories of God’s impressions and impact over the past year. Truly we declared together – God is Good all the Time; All the Time God is Good! I want to share some of those impressions for all of our donors, as you visualize the impact of this House of Mercy, as you reflect on how your gifts are and can be used to change lives – one man, one woman, one child at a time:

Bethesda Mission’s Food Bank  

“Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”Malachi 3:10

400,000 meals/month total distribution;

Serving our guests 500 meals/day;

1,500 food bags/month to rural parts surrounding Harrisburg;

Serving guests at DDB and other ministries;

1000s of meals to homeless on the streets;

strategic partnerships essential/negotiated

Medical & Dental Clinics

The LORD nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.  – Psalm 41:3

9 months in 2020 with no COVID outbreaks in dormitory setting,

December 2020 through 2021, 4 outbreaks with guests and some staff, all recovered;

30 years of docs and med students from Penn State Hershey delivering excellent health care, managed by Bethesda’s nurses

From God’s Heart Through Human Hands, Dave Russell, Dentist

 Community Center

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. – 1 Peter 1:18

Celebrating opening of Community Center August 2019; COVID shuts down all programs for months;

Programs back and growing in 2021;

Fire Station to be demolished/new building; but need $1M to complete, to expand programs to elementary & middle school students and adults/seniors/new kitchen

Women’s Mission

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.  – Psalm 145:9

Instilling a vision and resources to provide a beautiful new shelter, with an inspiring and reflective outdoor space, play area for children, a refuge welcoming 50 women over the next year, doubling available beds with opportunities to experience real hope and transformation.

Men’s Mission

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!Psalm 107:8

Our cry for every man who walks up those steps underneath that Green Cross, shining at night on a hill overlooking TheBurg. That Green Cross, donated by an orthodox Jewish family, who when asked why, told us that I know we have different beliefs, but we want to do this because you saved our son’s life.


I want to close our Christmas Appeal by honoring you and all our donors to this House of Mercy. You are both a shareholder and a stakeholder in this ministry. Your gifts are an investment in the lives of the most hurting folks in town, those who many times have been written off by society.

Your commitment means you have a stake in the game, the most serious game of offering the potential for “doing a 180” in transforming lives, which by the grace of God occurs all the time within our facilities.





Scott Dunwoody










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