We are mid-way through Spring 2021 already! Time flies, and we are excited to share some of this year’s first-quarter updates with you. Since the beginning of the year, the Mission has steadily increased its number of homeless guests throughout all its programs. We have
also been able to achieve this increase while maintaining social distancing and best COVID safety practices. Our meals ministry, Freedom Road day program, and New Life programs have all seen tremendous growth, and we are pretty excited to see God’s work in them increase.
Before the pandemic, we regularly served between 450-500 meals per day to our homeless guests, at-risk youth, and impoverished neighbors in our main dining hall. In the last 4 months, however, this count has increased to an average of 525 meals, many of which are being boxed and distributed as “to-go” meals. Our heart is to serve those who are hungry in both a spiritual and tangible sense. Like Jesus who fed the crowds on two occasions because He felt compassion for them, we are overjoyed that we are able to feed more hungry people than ever before.
Freedom Road Day Program
The Mission’s Freedom Road day program is really unique. Given the movement toward reopening, we would encourage you to visit our campus and see this program in action. Like most shelter programs, for decades the Mission fed and sheltered individuals at night, and
required them to leave in the morning after an early breakfast. Unfortunately, this leaves a long daily window for these men and women to wander the streets and the parks without the ability for structure or help.
Our day program provides a solution to this problem by allowing our overnight shelter guests to stay onsite throughout the day and receive training and case management to help them to get off the streets for good. Staff chaplains and volunteers teach life principles classes, facilitate Bible studies, play games, and provide human interaction. Case managers assist our program attendees with job and housing searches, Social Security, and obtaining ID documents. Nursing students volunteer and conduct basic exams and answer medical questions. We know that a firm foundation in Christ is required to achieve true life change, and we always encourage our guests to consider joining our 18-month residential New Life Program.
In the last four months, the number of men and women staying onsite and engaging in this program has increased by almost 50% from prior numbers. We would actually like to feature Britton S. this month as a spotlight testimony from our Freedom Road Day Program!
“I am a combat veteran who served 14 years in the army and then another 7 years in Iraq and Afghanistan. All told, I spent 10 years of my life in combat zones. When I came home in 2012, I had some serious issues with PTSD. I am a Christian and returned to my church but began backsliding and drinking to overcome my PTSD. I was spiraling out of control and hurting people that didn’t need to be hurt, nor did I want to hurt, and soon I ended up in jail.
I prayed for those I hurt and their well-being and went off to prison. I did not want to go to San Quentin, but God made it obvious that’s where He wanted me. So, I trusted in Him and ended up in a program for PTSD and got into college. He put me in a place where I could not only receive help, but could grow my faith in Him, and further my education. I began parole sooner than expected and all my plans fell through. I didn’t want to be homeless, but I was until a friend from my church recommended the Modesto Gospel Mission to me. Once again, I fought against God and was leery about coming to the Mission. Now two weeks in, I know this is where God wanted me. The Day Program is Bible-based and has sermons multiple times a day. In addition, the Mission is helping me get back on my feet. I was put in contact with the VA, and they are helping with my job search, writing my resume, and providing the support that I need spirituality and mentally. This place is much more than a safe place for me and I can’t thank God enough for Gospel Mission.”
New Life Programs
Our New Life Programs reflect most the heart of what we do. It is centered around discipleship training and total transformation of heart, mind, and soul. We often see the most broken people walk through the doors of the Mission, and we have the privilege of watching them walk out as new creations. When the pandemic began, many participants left to be with family throughout the lockdown. With public health restrictions on capacity and social distancing, we saw our New Life Programs decline to around 25 total men and women. Today, we are thrilled to say we have more than doubled that number to 57 men and women, with goals of hitting 75 by the end of the summer!
These fruitful programs could not be done without your generosity and sacrifice. It is your donations that give the Modesto Gospel Mission the ability to meet the tangible and spiritual needs of our downtrodden, demoralized, and defeated neighbors in our community. It is easy to look upon the homeless as nameless, faceless people, and perceive them as victims of their own bad choices. Yet Jesus offers them true life transformation and the ability to break bondages of addiction, poverty, and sin, and Jesus calls all of us to play a part in their deliverance. Please consider donating to the Mission this month to help us.
Finally, we are excited about the upcoming “Heart of a Donor” breakfast fundraiser this month, May 22nd. It feels like it has been years since we have been able to gather together! What better way to kick off the summer than with a delicious breakfast, testimonies of people helped by you, and fresh new updates on what is going on here at the Mission. At this point you should have received your invitation for the Heart of a Donor breakfast fundraiser, but that invitation is not mandatory – we just want to see you here! Just can always just mail back the bottom portion of this letter and let us know you would like to attend. Seating is limited and we are asking that anyone who plans to attend RSVP before the event.
Please be praying for the Mission so that we can continue to advance forward out of pandemic mode into serving more of those hurting and hopeless on our streets. Thanks for making this “Your Mission” through your prayers, financial support, and volunteer hours. You are the champions of the “least of these” in our community.
Jason Conway, Executive Director
New Life Program Graduate 2008