The Light: May 2017

Life Lessons in Suffering

by Robert

For two decades, Robert struggled to understand why God allowed him to suffer. When he finally discovered the answer at Atlanta Mission, it changed everything.

When I was 2, my father was killed by lightning. After that, my family struggled financially and we fell into severe poverty. My mother had to work long hours to make ends meet. That meant she had to leave me with people she trusted to look after me. Instead, one of them abused me. Repeatedly.

I felt so ashamed and abandoned. I was alone and scared. I wanted my dad back! He would have kept me safe. Now, there was no one to defend me. Some adults tried to help: “God is your loving father,” they’d say. But if that was true, why didn’t He protect me?

Time didn’t heal those wounds — but drugs and alcohol sure made it hurt less. The problem was, my drug abuse made life harder for everyone else — my mom, daughter, sister . . . and eventually, myself. During two decades of addiction, I ended up shot, stabbed, and beaten. I also struggled with extended periods of homelessness.

Growing to Understand God’s Purpose

There came a time when everyone I loved had told me to stay away. I was toxic. Then one night while I was alone, getting high again, I had a deeply unsettling thought — what if God lost patience with me? I knew He’s an all-loving God, but . . . His love was all I had left — and I wasn’t exactly loving Him back.

I began to see how much I was missing. I couldn’t sleep. I was broken-hearted. And that’s why I finally came to Atlanta Mission . . . Thank God!

This place transformed my life. Here, I came to realize that my dad didn’t abandon me. His death was a tragedy. The real problem was how I responded to it. I also came to understand that God had never left me. I even started to see God’s purpose in my suffering — and that He loved me. And the more I experienced His love, the more I dedicated myself to sharing that love with the other guys at Atlanta Mission. God’s love, the love I experienced here, transformed me.

Today, God has healed the family relationships I ruined. He’s making me a better father, son, and brother. And I’m so grateful for everyone who made my transformation possible.

Heart-Breaking Tragedy Inspires New Focus

“When you lose children, there are good days and bad. My hope is that with this gift, I’ll give other people who are struggling more good days . . .”

 

In the past three years, Steve has endured hardship and heartbreak beyond what many parents could bear: He’s had to bury his two sons, Brennan and Alec.

“Brennan, my older son, had addiction issues when he was younger,” Steve said. “While he had been sober for six years, Atlanta Mission played an important role in his recovery. He served here, helping men who were often twice his age in their own addiction recovery journeys. When I’d come to visit Brennan, many of these men would come and thank me and tell me how much my son meant to them.

“That filled my heart with a father’s pride,” Steve adds.

It was three years ago that Brennan passed away from a genetic heart defect. “I don’t believe my other son, Alec, ever fully recovered from the loss of his brother,” Steve explains. “Because of the beautiful role Atlanta Mission played in Brennan’s recovery, when we lost Alec in a tragic accident several years ago, we asked that memorial gifts in his honor be made here.”

Leaving a Legacy of Transformed Lives

Losing his boys spurred Steve to begin focusing on the things that mattered most in life. One of the changes he made was to include Atlanta Mission in his estate plans.

“At first I thought I might leave my money to my extended family — I have nephews and nieces that I adore,” Steve says. “But their families are doing fine, and I realized this money would have a much greater impact if I left it to Atlanta Mission.”

“My hope is that with this gift, I’ll give other people who are struggling more good days. Atlanta Mission helped Brennan, and it means a lot to me knowing I can help do that for someone else.”

Steve’s legacy gift will advance his highest values when he’s no longer here to do so. If you’d like to learn more about planned giving with Atlanta Mission, please go to atlantamission.org/planned-giving.

Truth that Transforms

Just $25 provides one full day of life-changing services . . .

 

When you support Atlanta Mission, you are helping end homelessness in our community. Your support provides everything a homeless individual or family needs to get their lives back in order. This includes:

• Food, shelter, and clothing.

• Education, work training, and job placement.

• Counseling, spiritual growth, accountability, and more.

It costs only $25 to provide a person with one full day of these comprehensive services at Atlanta Mission.

Please help rescue and restore more people suffering on our city’s streets. Please make a generous gift today to sponsor as many days as you’re able. Your generosity will transform many lives — now, and for eternity.

Life Transformation Through Relationships

Homelessness doesn’t happen in a night, and it can’t be solved in a day. Atlanta Mission has a comprehensive approach to healing — and relationships are key . . .

Homelessness is usually the end result of a series of tragic events or self-destructive choices that lead to broken relationships — and finally the streets. Reestablishing healthy relationships with friends and family is essential to rebuilding lives.

The process for our guests begins with trusted counselors, who help them experience God’s grace and make positive decisions for their future. Some people may need to ask for forgiveness while others may need to forgive — there is no “one size fits all” path to healing.

Classes, accountability groups, and work responsibilities in Atlanta Mission’s community further strengthen recovery, improving social community for men and women here. As they rebuild family relationships, learn to develop proper friendships and handle adversity, growth happens — and one of the root causes of homelessness is solved.

Being rooted in community is a key part of lasting transformation. Thank you for giving our guests the tools they need to live successful, positive lives!

Establishing Healthy Relationships

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

When we teach our guests about our Heavenly Father, it’s only natural for them to think of their earthly father. For people whose fathers were abusive or absent, this can be a significant challenge to faith and healing. They struggle to accept their Heavenly Father’s love. And Father’s Day can intensify that pain.

Typically, it takes time and God’s grace . . . but when someone like Robert (on the cover of this newsletter) begins to really understand our Heavenly Father’s love, it’s one of the most exciting parts of life transformation. It changes everything — their behavior, their relationships with their children and families, their outlook on life.

On a personal level, few things give me greater joy than when I see God reconciling dads with their children.

By Impacting Fathers, You’re Changing Generations

Thanks to your prayers and support, we frequently see broken relationships redeemed! As men change and become the fathers God intended, the healing extends to every person in their lives. Children, grandchildren, friends and loved ones . . . and even the angels in heaven celebrate!

This Father’s Day, please know that because of you, families are being restored because men are truly understanding — and embracing — the love of their Heavenly Father.

Thank you again for partnering with Atlanta Mission in this sacred work. May you too delight in our Heavenly Father’s rich, deep, everlasting love.

Blessings,

Jim Reese
President & CEO