The Light: May 2016

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Finding Home

by Emily

It wasn’t all that long ago that I didn’t care if I lived or died.

I grew up in a difficult home, with lots of dysfunction. Later, I turned to alcohol and cocaine to cope with the pain . . . and I remained addicted for decades. When I started doing crack in 2004, things really spiraled downhill.

I ended up homeless, living under a bridge. I never felt safe. It’s dangerous for a single woman on the streets. I went days without eating or drinking. I was often dehydrated, and sometimes had hallucinations. In winter, I feared I’d freeze to death. And I ruined relationships with my family, including my two kids.

Things went from bad to worse. I’d rather not get into the details, but just suffice it to say that I got arrested, and my mug shot shows how awful things were. I was down to 90 pounds, and I looked like I was on the brink of death.

Because I was.

When you hit rock bottom like that, you tend to take stock of your life. I decided to get help. And I knew exactly where to go.

Finding Home

I had heard good things about My Sister’s House at Atlanta Mission, which helps women and children get back on their feet.

I got here in January 2015. When the counselor said they had a bed for me, I broke down in tears. Because I knew I’d found my way home.

I went to church as a child, but had ignored God for a long time. Atlanta Mission helped me reconnect with my faith. Now I read my Bible and pray all the time.

I’m not ashamed of myself anymore, because I’m not the same person I was before. I’m a completely different human being now. I am literally a new creation in Christ. I even got my smile back, as Atlanta Mission helped me get the dental work I needed.

Now I’m working two jobs, and I’m saving money to move into a place of my own. And God is restoring relationships with my family. I couldn’t be happier.

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!

“I’ve Called Your Name”

It’s easy to lose your identity when you’re living on the streets. But God gives every one of us a name.

Speaking to the nation of Israel through the prophet Isaiah, God had some very comforting words:

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end — because I am God, your personal God” (Isaiah 43:1-3, The Message).16.05-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-1-280x260

Those same words apply to our friends and neighbors who struggle to live on the streets of Metro Atlanta. God has called each of them by name. It’s just that many of them don’t know it yet . . . but they learn it at Atlanta Mission. Because we emphasize that truth to each of our guests, every single day.

Until they “get” that, though, life on the streets is brutal. These men describe what it was like before they came to Atlanta Mission and found new life:

“The hardest thing about living on the streets is not knowing where you eat, or where you will lay your head at night. At times, I had to sleep on concrete or on top of a piece of cardboard.” — Andre

“I lived in an abandoned building and had to bathe with two 5-gallon buckets of water. But anybody could become homeless for lots of reasons. Homeless people just need someone to talk to, someone to love them.” — Yelmo

“On the streets, I had lost all hope. I didn’t think I’d live to be 27, much less 57. But God had something better for me.” — Reginald

Your gifts to Atlanta Mission help men like these turn their lives around—and escape the streets for good. Thank you!

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Your Support Gives Safety and Stability to Kids

Many children who come to Atlanta Mission have known nothing but broken families, discord and dismay, and no place to call home. They’re often on the move, staying with family and friends, at various shelters, and even living on the streets.

16.05-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-280x260Such a transient existence is no life for a child. There’s no structure or stability. The constant readjustment — in living situations and often switching schools — is traumatic, and it affects kids in different ways. Acting out. Bad grades. Anger. Depression. Social problems. Sickness. And more.

But at My Sister’s House — Atlanta Mission’s facility for women and children — kids find the safety and stability they so desperately need. They are encouraged, they are counseled, and they are loved unconditionally. They acquire tools to help them adapt to change, learning how to adjust to new situations. And as their mothers land on their feet and hone their parenting skills, the children begin to flourish.

My Sister’s House has a team of professionals working round the clock on these things, including counselors, teachers, and outside partners.

Finally, there’s also plenty of fun for the kids — a playground onsite, arts and crafts, games, and programs with partner organizations like After-School All-Stars, the YMCA, Wilderness Works, ChopArt, Atlanta Preservation Center, Green Room ATL, and more.

Your support makes it possible for these struggling children to find hope and healing.

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One of the best ways to see your donations at work is to tour Atlanta Mission. You’ll see our facilities, meet some of our staff, observe our programs at work, and interact with guests. To schedule your visit, go to atlantamission.org/tour or call 404-350-1301.

Jesus on the Streets

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

It’s very hard for me to imagine what it’s like to live on the streets. Even as I hear stories of what it’s like, it is still difficult to really get a sense of what they feel.

The stories almost always start with loneliness and broken or destroyed relationships. They might live on the streets with many others, but they often feel alone. The shame and hopelessness seem to grow daily, almost like a bad sore. But after a while, they no longer feel the pain — or do things to numb it.

This is why we believe a key to turning a life around starts with a relationship, preferably one that will develop into a true friendship. A friendship is about love, trust, and commitment.

Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, ESV). This from a Man who chose friends from unique walks of life — tax collectors, prostitutes, the blind and the lame. Jesus would certainly be on the streets with the people we serve.

Your support of Atlanta Mission is the work of Jesus, making friends with those who no one else will befriend. And with Jesus, they’re getting more than just a friend, but a savior.

Please pray for those we serve, that God would create relationships and friendships that build trust, change lives, and introduce a Savior who loves them more than they can ever imagine.

Thank you for your generosity, love, and friendship!

16.03-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Humbled to serve with you,

Jim Reese
President & CEO