Cooking Up Some Redemption
“The way I see it, serving meals is a ministry to people who are in need.”
Thanksgiving might still be a couple months away, but I’m already thinking about it. After all, it’s my job.
As one of the head chefs at Atlanta Mission — I oversee the kitchen at The Shepherd’s Inn, our downtown men’s facility — I am responsible for all those ingredients, and for preparing tens of thousands of meals between now and Thanksgiving Day.
And I absolutely love my job. The way I see it, serving meals is a ministry to people who are in need. I get to rub shoulders with everybody in that cafeteria, including a lot of guys who are really hurting. I’ll start a conversation, encourage them, and maybe it’ll be the first step toward turning their lives around.
But for God’s grace, it could be any of us in that food line, even me. Not so long ago, it was me . . .
I threw it all away
I grew up in a good home, but as a high school sports star, I got spoiled. I could have just about anything I wanted. I started smoking pot, and by the time I got to college — on an athletic scholarship — I was regularly using cocaine. I barely got by, and ended up throwing it all away — my education and my sports career — by dropping out.
I continued my drug habit and got busted a couple times. I got married and settled down a little, but I never kicked my coke habit. My wife and I ended up having eight children, but eventually, my addictions and poor decisions destroyed my family.
I checked into a Mission in Nashville and got clean . . . for seven years! I even became their head chef. But then I stopped going to church and I fell back into my old ways.
When I decided to get help again, someone recommended Atlanta Mission, so I came down here in 2009. I checked into The Potter’s House — our North Georgia campus for men in addiction recovery — and cleaned up.
106 letters of apology
Part of the process was to write letters to everyone I had wronged in the past, to confess and ask for forgiveness. I ended up writing 106 letters! And the hardest one was to my estranged wife. We’re still on speaking terms, and I’m restoring my relationship with my kids. I even have six grandchildren now!
I’m so grateful for Atlanta Mission. God redeemed my life here, and they helped me get back on my feet. And nowadays, I’m on my feet a lot in the kitchen . . . getting ready for Thanksgiving!
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. Thanks for giving during this holiday season!
“We Didn’t Know Where We Would Eat”
How your support helps hungry moms and children.
These three ladies at My Sister’s House — our home for women and children — would certainly testify to that:
“I was homeless with my 12-year-old daughter, and she often was hungry. It was a struggle, but when I came here, it was a blessing. We get to eat three times a day, and my child doesn’t have to go hungry. I’m very grateful.” — Demetria
“I had limited food stamps, so it was hard to get enough food for me and my son. Most days, we only had breakfast and dinner. But now that we’re at Atlanta Mission, we get three meals a day. I’m so thankful.” — Saudi
“My mother and I were living in our car with nowhere to go. We only had a few dollars, and didn’t know when or where we would eat. When we finally came to My Sister’s House, they were kind to us, comforted us, and prayed with us.” — Lexys
One meal. Life Change. $2.67.
As one of our head chefs, Clay, noted in the top story of this newsletter, Atlanta Mission is already gearing up for Thanksgiving.
And as you know, a meal is more than just a plate of food at Atlanta Mission. Served with love, compassion, and encouragement, a meal can often be a first step toward new life and complete transformation!
At just $2.67 per meal, you could provide 10, 25, 50, or even 100 or more meals . . . each one carefully prepared and brimming with hope! Funds are needed by October 10, so please don’t delay.
Your donation also helps to provide safe shelter, warm clothing, and a variety of programs and services to help our guests get back on their feet.
A Heart of Compassion
Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,
I’ve always been amazed at the miracle of Jesus taking seven loaves of bread and a few small fish and feeding a massive crowd (Matthew 15:32-39, NIV). Can you imagine seeing that happen?
But in being awed by the miracle, I always missed perhaps the most important thing about this passage. It’s not just what Jesus did, but why He did it.
“I have compassion for these people,” Jesus says (v. 32). “They have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
For the Son of God, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes was easy. But it’s His compassion that really stands out.
These people had been following Jesus for days . . . and they got really hungry. Jesus didn’t want them to just hear about His love. He wanted them to see it. That’s what the miracle is all about.
Your heart to show Christ’s love to our struggling neighbors starts with compassion, but it doesn’t end there. It also includes providing meals. And often, that first meal is a first step toward complete transformation. A smile, a word of encouragement, a warm hug . . . any of it can lead to a renewed life.
So, as we enter this holiday season, I’m asking you to be extra generous — to help us to never send them away hungry!