The Light: February 2016

She Couldn't Resist Unconditional Love

Life on the streets is dangerous, but especially for a woman. Robbers and predators are always a threat. And there are the everyday perils of bad weather, poor health, and a lack of life’s basic necessities.

Yet that’s just how Kris* lived for years. She often came to Atlanta Mission for help, but couldn’t seem to break free from her homelessness. Maybe she lived on the streets, but in her mind, it was the life she knew.

She would show up at our Day Shelter for Women and Children for a meal, laundry, or a hot shower. But she also wanted to maintain the “freedom” of street life, to come and go as she pleased . . . despite the dangers.

When invited to stay at My Sister’s House — our residential facility for women and children — Kris declined. She assumed conditions would be too restrictive.

Kris was in her early 50s, set in her ways, and hesitant about any kind of change. So if she didn’t want the help, what could Atlanta Mission do?

We could do what Jesus did.

Our staff was patient and kind. We built trust, developed a relationship. We spent time with Kris on the streets. Most of all, we simply loved her . . . relentlessly.

Kris might’ve been able to ignore the offers of programs and services. But she could not resist the allure of unconditional love.

She ultimately took them up on the offer to try My Sister’s House. She came to like it, and she slowly transformed into a new person. She got the help she needed for a chronic medical condition. She learned valuable life skills. She grew spiritually and emotionally.

Within six months, Kris moved into her own home, and she now lives independently . . . off the streets. For good.

These days, Kris still returns to the Day Shelter to see old friends. On a recent visit, she attended a Bible study about The Prodigal Son (Luke 15). At the end of the lesson, Kris said, “You guys are just like that.” The leader thought she was referring to the homeless women in the room — those who had in essence gone away and were now returning “home.”

“No,” Kris said, “that’s not what I meant. I meant you guys at Atlanta Mission. You’re like the father in the story, because no matter how many times I messed up, you kept giving me another chance, welcoming me back, every single time.”

That’s what love looks like. Every single time. Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

* Not her real name, and other details have been changed to protect her identity. Story is from an interview with Day Shelter director Jennifer Hutchinson.

Sharing the Load

There are almost 7,000 homeless people in Metro Atlanta . . . and about 40 percent of them are women and children.

That’s a staggering statistic. These struggling souls need a safe refuge, a place of hope, a beacon of light. And that’s what Atlanta Mission’s Day Shelter for Women and Children is all about.

But it’s how they go about it that makes the place so special.

A typical agency has caseworkers who connect clients with resources and services. These workers might sit on one side of a desk with a clipboard, while the client sits on the other, telling their story.16.02-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-280x260

Things are different at the Day Shelter, where “caseworkers” and “clients” are terms that seem too clinical for a ministry that’s all about the love of Jesus. Our helpers are called Ambassadors, from 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are therefore Christ’s Ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

“We represent Christ to the people,” says LaLoni Leffall, an Ambassador. “We focus on building life-onlife relationships with the women — making sure they know that they are loved and that they matter.”

That means coming out from behind the desk, embracing — literally and emotionally — women inneed, and lovingly walking alongside them.

Many women, various needs

On a typical day, hundreds of homeless women — some with kids — stop by the Day Shelter with a wide array of needs. Some needs are simple: They need to do laundry, get a MARTA card, or get help with childcare. Some are hard: They’re victims of abuse or have serious medical issues. And everything in between.

Each woman is given a personal assessment to determine deeper needs and long-term goals. And then each woman is given a customized plan for reaching those objectives.

For those who truly want to break free of street life, many end up at My Sister’s House, Atlanta Mission’s residential facility for women and children. But some aren’t ready to commit to a structured setting or break old habits. At least not yet.

That’s where Ambassadors make all the difference: By building relationships and walking alongside them in love, prayer, and compassion.

Lives are changed. Hope is found. Futures are brightened.

Your support of Atlanta Mission makes it happen. Thank you!

How the Atlanta Day Shelter Helped Me

“I stayed outside in my car for a week, too nervous to come inside the Day Shelter. But they came out to me and eased my fears. Since then, I’ve come through the program, found a job, and I’m back on my feet. Thank you!” — Jennifer

“The staff at the Day Shelter showed so much compassion. They always encouraged me to keep trying and not give up at seeking a new start. Thanks to them, my own compassion has increased for other homeless women.” — Odessa16.02-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-3-280x260

“I was scared when I arrived, but one of the workers brought me in, calmed me down, and let me know they were there to help . . . and that I didn’t need to be afraid. They helped me prepare for returning to the real world. Now I’m looking forward to getting my own place, where my son and I can lay our heads in peace.” — Shan

“As I got to know the staff and all the ways they could help, I transitioned from the emergency shelter to their program for getting my life back on track. They’ve helped in so many ways, and I’ve really grown spiritually. Before getting here, I had never picked up a Bible. Now I can’t put it down.” — Shaday

For the Sake of the Children

article-photo-03Almost 1 in 8 homeless people in Metro Atlanta are children under the age of 18. Atlanta Mission serves hundreds of children every year through two of our ministries — the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women & Children and My Sister’s House, a residential facility. Your support helps these kids find happiness and hope!

To donate by phone, please call 404-350-1301. To donate online, click the button below.

GIVE NOW

What If you Had No Hope?

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

She was a young single mom, cradling an infant, when she walked through our doors. She had no place to turn. She was terrified.

But our team welcomed her warmly, calmed her down, and showed her kindness and compassion. Within minutes, her countenance had changed. She’d found refuge, a haven of rest, and hope for the future.

What if you had no hope? What if you had to run from a place to stay because it really wasn’t a place to live? What if you had no family or friends nearby?

What if this person was you?

Guests come to Atlanta Mission’s Day Shelter for Women and Children every single day. Yes, they’re burdened with physical needs, but most heartbreaking are the emotional and social conditions that weigh them down.

When you’re like that, your most urgent need is to know that you matter, that you are loved unconditionally.

Thanks to your support, that’s what we strive to do for each and every man, woman and child — to treat them as children of God. It’s heartwarming to see them regain hope as they see the love of a Father that they may have never experienced before.

James 2 tells us to show love and honor to the poor. Because of your help, your heart, your love, and generosity, this is truly being lived out at Atlanta Mission.

Thanks for standing with us, for caring so much, and for your prayers.

Humbled to serve with you,16.02-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140

Jim Reese

President & CEO