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 recovery — and relationships are key . . .

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

The Light: March 2017

“This Has Got to Stop”

by Keith

After a lifetime of guilt, shame, and drug abuse, Keith needed to change. He needed forgiveness.

I’ve spent most of my life paralyzed by guilt and shame. I just could never forgive myself. How could anyone else?

One day, when I was growing up, my brother and I set a couple of fires. There’s no excuse for what we did. But shortly afterward, child services intervened. Me and my 13 siblings were taken from our home and split up — and it was all my fault. My entire family was torn apart because of what I did.

How does someone deal with something like that? I ended up turning to cocaine and heroin . . . for decades. I held steady jobs, but I spent all my money trying to numb my pain.

For me, life was like a big revolving door — in and out of jail, or off to work and then home again. I had two sons, but I was such a bad example, they both grew up and joined gangs.

I finally reached a point where I was sick and tired of living that life. It was 1 a.m. in a hotel room, and I just said, “This has got to stop.”

The next morning, I went to Atlanta Mission . . .

Ready to change

I was an addict, homeless, and spiritually bankrupt when I came here, but I was ready to change. I wanted to get back to God.

From day one, this place started to change me from the inside out. It was the start of my journey toward a complete spiritual transformation.

The first thing they taught me was how to establish a relationship with Jesus. But to do that, I had to repent and ask for forgiveness for everything I’d done. I could never forgive myself — but Jesus could. When that happened, everything changed — my thoughts, my attitudes, my behavior toward others, everything.

Transformation is a journey, but over time, I began to say, “Now I have a purpose. I have value. Let me put my best foot forward in everything.”

Now I’ve completed a life-changing program at Atlanta Mission, I’m living independently, and I have a full-time job. Better yet, my sons have seen me change dramatically, and they have both decided to give up gang life and become solid citizens with real jobs. That’s amazing to me.

Today, I’m a deacon-in-training at my church. I’m fully in pursuit of God. And I’m thankful to Atlanta Mission for that kind of transformation!

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. Thank you!

Where Are They Now?

How your support changed the lives of these Atlanta Mission alumni.

RM-17-03-4641-1-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Emily-Photo-280x260Emily didn’t care if she lived or died after all those years on the streets, addicted to drugs, in and out of jail, facing daily dangers and disappointments.

But at Atlanta Mission, she completely turned her life around. She found God, a job, and independent housing. But most of all, she reconnected with her family.

“I really wanted reconciliation with my family,” she says. “My mother and I had an estranged relationship for a long time because I was a terrible daughter, very selfish. But now we talk all the time. It’s amazing!

“I’ve also reconciled with my daughter, and we have a wonderful relationship. I also have a son, and I hope our relationship will be restored too. But I’m giving that to God and let Him work that out.”

Emily works full-time at Home Depot, where she is being groomed for a supervisor position. And she’s active in her church. “My life’s been transformed!”

*Emily was featured in our May 2016 newsletter

RM-17-03-4641-1-F02AT-Mar-eNewsletter-2017CAEONK-Blog-Story-2-280x260Heidi was a single mom of a baby girl when circumstances beyond her control left her homeless. Despite a college education and a solid job history, she was desperate.

At the time, she wondered, How did I end up like this? Am I being punished? A couple months at Atlanta Mission helped Heidi land back on her feet, find a good job, and a place for herself and daughter Emily, now 4.

In hindsight, Heidi realizes that she wasn’t being “punished,” but that God had her back the whole time. “There comes a time in every believer’s life where the rubber hits the road, where you can’t do it by yourself and you totally have to trust God. That was it for me.”

Since leaving four years ago, Heidi has learned to depend on God more each day. And life is good: She’s a key underwriter at a major insurance company and she’s buying a home. Heidi has also started her own company, Mommy & Me Toys, and plans a line of dolls called “Wonderfully Made.” She intends to donate some of the profits to homeless shelters.

*Heidi was featured in our June 2015 newsletter

RM-17-03-4641-1-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Justin-Photo-280x260Justin has described his past life with one word: “monster.” As a drug dealer and gangbanger he carried a gun — and wasn’t afraid to use it. He overdosed several times. He went to jail 26 times — all by his mid-20s.

He realized he was on a road to nowhere, so he went to Atlanta Mission to turn his life around, and it worked. He met God, repented, “and all my bad thoughts went away.”

He enrolled in a barber training program, and started giving free haircuts at Atlanta Mission to practice. He got pretty good at it, and now, a year and a half later, Justin is happily married and working as a professional barber in Norcross.

He says he often cuts the hair of people who are much like he once was. “These are people living the same dangerous life I used to. But I know them. I know what they’re facing, and they know where I came from. That’s why I like to think of the barber chair as my pulpit, and the barbershop as my church. It’s a place where I can give back, and where I can tell my story about how God and Atlanta Mission turned me around . . . I couldn’t be happier.”

*Justin was featured in our July 2015 newsletter

A Meal & So Much More

Transforming a life starts with $2.67

kidAt Atlanta Mission, a life-changing meal costs only $2.67. But our meals are more than good food — they also include dignity, compassion, hope, and the life-changing, unconditional love of God. In other words, the meals we serve are often the first step toward the kinds of transformation you read about in this newsletter.

The stories of transformation at Atlanta Mission are Easter stories: real death-to-life resurrection stories. And you can make more of those stories possible by supporting the Hunger to Hope campaign today.

To donate call 404-350-1301 or click here.

A Witness to Easter Miracles

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

It’s exciting to see “Easter stories” happening all across Atlanta Mission, lives changed by the power of Jesus.

In Luke 24:46-48, Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection, and speaks of forgiveness and how the gospel will spread to all the earth. Then He says,

“You are witnesses of these things.”

When you read the stories of transformation in this newsletter, I want you to remember that you are a witness of these things. God does the transforming, yes. But the actual work wouldn’t happen without your prayers and support . . . and that makes you a witness!

These are stories of people not physically dying but dying to themselves, turning from their past and living a life that has been transformed by the Savior — a life with new purpose, a life that now impacts family and friends too.

Witnessing a life lost but now found in Jesus continues to tell the story of Easter. My own life is just one of many changed by the power of these stories.

People often enter our doors with no hope; they’re spiritually dead. But thanks to your support, they are shown the love of Christ — first through food, clothing, and a place to sleep, and all along through care and compassion. It’s a hope-filled love rarely seen in the world today — and you are a witness to it!

May you and your family have a blessed Easter, and may you witness the love and power of Jesus all year long.

Blessings,

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO

The Light: December 2016

A Very Long Detour

The way Kevin sees it, God wanted him at Atlanta Mission . . . someday. It just took almost 40 years to get there.

Kevin’s difficult journey began in infancy, when his father left. It got worse when he was about 7, when a babysitter began abusing him and his brother. The
abuse continued for years, and when the boys were teens, they both dove into drugs to mask their shame and pain.

Kevin continued using and abusing — mostly marijuana and cocaine — for decades. Along the way, he had four children and he held a steady job. “I was a functioning addict,” he says. “I worked hard because I love my kids.”

When his youngest graduated from high school in 2013, he became tired of his drug abuse and burying his pain, so he decided to make some changes in his
life. He lived in Miami, but had heard good things about Atlanta Mission, so he moved here for a fresh start. But when he showed up for help, he was high, and
was told to come back another day.

He waited two years.

He met a young woman and fell hard in love . . . and back into drugs, “right back into my old ways,” he says. For almost two years.

Finally, in late 2015, Kevin decided he’d had enough with being a drug addict, and he knocked on Atlanta Mission’s door.

“I was led to come here,” he says. “I just took the long way.”

Kevin starts crying as he talks about how God, through the people at Atlanta Mission, transformed his life.

“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he says through tears. “Atlanta Mission saved my life.”

He says that when he was turned away that first time, he thought he’d blown it forever. “But they gave me another chance when I didn’t think I had one.”
The tears keep falling.

“This is not a sorrowful cry,” he says. “This is a good cry.” Kevin now has a full-time job as a carpenter, which is kind of fitting, since he wants to tell people about another Carpenter — Jesus. He wants to be a pastor, and hopes to attend seminary someday soon.

“I just want to help other people the way I’ve been helped,” he says. “I’ve been made new, and I want to help others find the same thing.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. Thank you!

New Year’s Resolutions

Here is how your support is helping Atlanta Mission guests prepare for 2017:

“God’s teaching me how to be humble. Atlanta Mission has inspired me to work harder. In 2017, I’ll watch my 1-year-old daughter grow and blossom, remembering that every little step she takes will be a reflection on every step I take to improve. I’m ecstatic to see what the future holds!”Janinerm-16-12-4637-1-f02at-dec-enewsletter-2016laenew-blog-story1-280x260

“Atlanta Mission has helped me continue my addiction recovery. But I have a criminal record, so it’s hard to find housing. My hopes for 2017 are to get housing and have my own key. And to spend more time with my family.”Joseph

“I got closer to God, my patience has improved, I’m much more calm, and I found a job. In 2017, I hope to have my own housing, a car, and be a better mom. If it weren’t for Atlanta Mission, I wouldn’t have come this far.”Jessica

Run in the Cold for Those Who Sleep in the Cold

What in the world would prompt 3,000 people to get up early on a cold, gray winter morning and go downtown for an outdoor event? It’d have to be a big deal, right?

Well, the Atlanta Mission 5K Race to End Homelessness really is a big deal. (How else to explain 3,000 people taking part, right?)

It’s more than just a road race, more than just an opportunity to run (or walk, or anything in between) 3.1 miles to stay in shape.

It’s a life-changing community event.

rm-16-12-4637-1-f02at-dec-enewsletter-2016laenew-blog-story2-280x260It leaves a lasting impression on participants, because the event raises lots of money (more than $235,000 this year) to help Atlanta’s homeless and hungry neighbors. That’s something to make a person feel good about taking part! But it also helps transform the men, women and children who are guests at Atlanta Mission — including many who participate in the race. Those who take part feel especially blessed for a number of reasons. Perhaps the sense of accomplishment. Perhaps just to prove to themselves they can do something hard. Or perhaps for the sake of their fellow guests.

“I wanted to run for the guys at Atlanta Mission,” says Kevin, whose story is shared in this newsletter, “I didn’t do it for myself. I can never repay Atlanta Mission for all they’ve done for me. They helped me become new. That’s what they do.”

The next 5K Race to End Homelessness will be held February 18, 2017. Go to atlantamission.org/race to register.

Look What You Did in 2016!

THESE THINGS HAPPENED BECAUSE OF FRIENDS LIKE YOU:

  • 5,919 People Served
  • 237,534 Bed Nights
  • 668,498 Meals Provided
  • 175 Jobs Attained
  • 250 Decisions For Christ

WHAT WE’RE ANTICIPATING FOR THE YEAR AHEAD*:rm-16-12-4637-1-f02at-dec-enewsletter-2016laenew-sidebar-690x643

6,500 will come to us for help

  • 2,900 men
  • 2,200 women
  • 1,400 children

THESE PEOPLE RELY ON YOUR SUPPORT.

Please make a year-end gift today.

Because of You . . .

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

As we celebrate Christmas, we are uplifted by the joy of Christ’s birth — and by the wonderful year we’ve just had . . . and the one soon to come!

Because of you . . .

A man once saddled by addictions has been transformed by Christ, and has returned to his family a different man. He’s ready for a new year and a new life as a leader to his family, and a light to others.

A woman once hopeless and afraid is now living a life she never thought possible. She has new friends, and is surrounded by people who love her. Her relationship with her children has grown, and her kids are having a great year in school.

That’s just two of many transformations you’ve made possible!

You’ll read other stories of changed lives in this newsletter, with stories that encourage us to look ahead to 2017 with great anticipation! We desire to serve and impact more lives in the year to come . . . to having more “God stories” to celebrate.

Would you please consider a year-end gift as we finish the year — not just to end 2016 on a strong note, but to start 2017 on firm footing, so that we can celebrate even more changed lives in the year ahead? I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to be part of the solution in people’s lives.

May you and your family have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Blessings,

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO

The Light: November 2016

Broken, Bruised . . . and Now Made New

Broken, Bruised . . . and Now Made New

It’s hard to believe anyone could survive the things Marica has been through . . . physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Beaten and abused, broken and bruised, crushed every which way till her body and soul were almost shattered beyond repair.

But today, thanks to your support, Marica now knows the true joy, grace, and good news of Christmas . . .

Marica’s story began in early childhood when she was sexually abused, a pattern that continued through her teens. Rather than protect her, Marica’s mother blamed Marica for the abuse.

“My mom said she was a Christian,” Marica remembers. “I thought I had grown up in a Christian home. I was like, If this is Christianity, I don’t want any part of it.

At 18, Marica left home and joined another religion, which at first brought her some peace. But her past trauma haunted her, and she turned to drugs to numb her pain. There were a few relationships, all of them abusive. She was in and out of domestic violence shelters.

“I was always terrified,” she says. “But I just kept praying that God would take me out of those situations.”

Marica finally did leave her abuser, but ended up homeless. She soon met another man, got pregnant, and found herself completely alone . . . and scared.

Someone suggested Atlanta Mission. When she learned it was a Christian ministry, Marica resisted because of her old misconceptions about Christianity. But with nowhere else to turn, she went anyway.

“And they welcomed me with open arms,” Marica says. “They didn’t judge me. They just loved me.”

Marica gave birth to a girl named Savannah. A few months later, she decided to embrace Christianity. Now she’s excited about what she calls her first Christmas as a true follower of Jesus, and she even has her own new apartment.

“The love shown to me last Christmas at Atlanta Mission makes me excited for this first Christmas as a follower of Christ,” says Marica. “Lots of parties, lots of joy. Now that I know the reason for all of that joy, this should be my best Christmas ever!”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness. Thank you!

No Christmas Memories . . .


How you’re helping Brandon discover the hope of the holiday.

16-11-f02at-enewsletter-blog-story-1-280x260When a child gives birth to a child, the odds are stacked against both.

That’s just how life began for Brandon, born to a 12-year-old girl in 1979. His mother wasn’t ready for that responsibility and abandoned him. Brandon ended up with his grandmother, who had a series of boyfriends, including one who was busted for running a meth lab.

Childhood Christmas memories? There aren’t any. “When Christmas rolls around every year,” he says, “I kind of just push it aside. It’s supposed to be family time, but I never really had that. That’s hard. It gets to you.”

Brandon’s adult life has been a series of jobs and bouts of homelessness. When his grandmother died in 2005, Brandon spiraled into depression and suicidal thoughts.

When he came to Atlanta Mission in early 2015, Brandon found something a lot like family. As he’s made good friends, he’s expecting this Christmas — perhaps for the first time ever — to be one to remember.

“If it weren’t for Atlanta Mission, I’d probably be dead,” Brandon says. “But here, I’m surrounded by people who genuinely care. I love it here.”

Thanks to your kindness and generosity, men like Brandon can experience joy again . . . at Christmas, and all year round.

Why We Support Atlanta Mission

by Todd and Jamie, who have supported Atlanta Mission since 2004.

There are so many who struggle to eat, to find a dry place to sleep, or to get help moving forward. While we can’t solve all of the world’s problems, we certainly can be a part of helping those in our own city.

16-11-f02at-enewsletter-blog-story-2-280x260When we consider supporting a nonprofit, we ask, ‘Is God’s blessing evident here?’ And, ‘Are they good stewards of my gift?’ When it comes to Atlanta Mission, the answer to both is a resounding ‘Yes!’

Atlanta Mission brings real support and real change to people’s lives every day. Who wouldn’t want to be a partner in that?

You’re Changing Lives!

Your support of Atlanta Mission helps to provide the services that help struggling neighbors turn their lives around and start afresh.

16-11-f02at-enewsletter-blog-story-3-280x260For example, at My Sister’s House — our shelter for women and children — we’re using a new approach with personalized services to meet each guest’s needs.

Thanks to your generosity, some of those guests who had been struggling to make progress are now moving forward.

God’s Unconditional Love

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph must have had dreams and aspirations for their little one. They knew He was special, sent to save the world.

Likewise, when our children and grandchildren are born, we have dreams and aspirations for them too. Still, many kids grow up in difficult situations, and their struggles continue into adulthood. Many of these wounded children have grown up, and walk through our doors daily — folks whose parents may have once had great dreams for them . . . but they’ve since lost hope.

Some of our guests at Atlanta Mission have no relationships, no family. That’s particularly painful at Christmas. But Christmas is also an opportunity to invite them into God’s family . . . and the “extended family” at Atlanta Mission . . . which includes you!

Because of you, hurting people can hope and dream again.

Your generosity is always treasured, but more than ever, your help at Christmas sends an incredibly strong message. When I tell our guests that we receive no government assistance, that it all comes from sacrificial givers like you, they are overwhelmed with gratitude . . . and a glimpse of God’s unconditional love.

Merry Christmas to you and your family!

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO

The Light: September 2016

16.09-blog-story-lead

Cooking Up Some Redemption

by Clay
“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!

How To Serve 1,000 Meals

16-09-sept-enewsletter-infographic_720x623

“We Didn’t Know Where We Would Eat”

How your support helps hungry moms and children.

16-09-enewsletter-blog-story-2-280x260When you’re famished, a meal received in Jesus’ name can literally change your life. That first meal at Atlanta Mission often leads to a path of complete transformation.

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

The Making of A Meal

Want to see our kitchen teams at work? Check out the preparations in the latest of our “Inside Atlanta Mission” video series.


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.cta-graphic

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!

Blessings,

16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO

The Light: August 2016

Up from the Ashes

“Mommy and Daddy are the paper,” said 9-year-old Tyshaun, “but I’m the glue. I’m going to hold this family together.”

Tyshaun was just 9 years old when she and her mom and sister had to sleep on the streets.

“It was scary,” she remembers.

Tyshaun’s father, Clyde, had just gone to jail for forgery. Her mother, Kim, had just been released, after serving time for writing bad checks. Both parents struggled with alcoholism, and the family had lost their home.

With no place to turn, Kim, Tyshaun, and older daughter Danielle (14) lived on the streets for about a week. But things were about to get better . . .

A cruel upbringing

Kim’s childhood was brutal. Her father was a drug dealer, her mother was mentally ill, and both were abusive. “Constant violence,” Kim says. “I had to learn the streets pretty quick.”

She drank heavily as a teen and young adult, but quit when she was about 30. She got married, had kids, stayed sober for 14 years, and became an executive chef. Life was good — at work, at home, and in the family.

But when she lost her job, Kim relapsed hard. Then Clyde relapsed. Facing poverty, both turned to petty crime to make ends meet, both got caught, and both did time. The kids ended up with Children’s Services for a couple of months before being returned to their mother.

Kim had heard about Atlanta Mission, and she and the girls ended up at My Sister’s House, Atlanta Mission’s home for women and children.

Kim went through addiction recovery, intense counseling, and parenting classes. Then she was hired as a cook at My Sister’s House. Danielle and Tyshaun started making friends.

When Clyde was released from jail, he went to Atlanta Mission and turned his life around. Today, the family is reunited and living together in an Atlanta apartment complex.

The family “glue”

When Kim was at her lowest, hung over and in bed, Tyshaun said, “Mommy, God knew you were going to relapse. That’s why he gave y’all me. You and Daddy are the paper, but I’m the glue. I’m going to hold this family together.”

“It was like hearing the words of an old soul,” Kim says today.

Now that the family’s intact again, Tyshaun says she’ll never forget how Atlanta Mission helped them.“They took care of us,” she says. “I’m happy they were part of my life.”

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!

Ministry with Class

How your support helps students.

When you’re a child without a home, and often in a broken family, life is hard enough. Trying to keep up in school is often even more difficult.

That’s where your support of Atlanta Mission makes a difference.

At My Sister’s House, Atlanta Mission’s home for moms and children, staff and volunteers help kids and their parents in all facets of the educational experience.16.08-Aug-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-1-280x260

At the beginning of each school year, each child is given two uniforms and a backpack full of supplies — so they’re just as equipped as their classmates. My Sister’s House also offers homework help and tutoring, with a big assist from After-School All- Stars, a volunteer organization.

But it’s way more than just the tangibles. Many kids at My Sister’s House have difficulty focusing, or sometimes act out in class. My Sister’s House equips and encourages parents to be more involved in school meetings and activities.

“Involvement in their child’s school is a parenting skill we help develop,” says Vanessa Carey, Vice President of Women’s Services at Atlanta Mission. “It shows both the child and the school that you’re supporting them in their education.

“We understand that these children are in a unique living situation, and we don’t want that situation to impede their success. We have the opportunity to make a significant impact on these children and their parents during a very formative time. So we do everything we can to give them the same opportunities that any other child would have at school.”

Thank you for providing those opportunities for these kids!

Birthday Parties They’ll Never Forget!

For most children coming to Atlanta Mission, their needs are obvious — nutritious food, safe shelter, adequate clothing, a solid education, and unconditional love.

Less obvious is the need to be recognized simply for what they are: gifts from God, blessings from above.

BIRTHDAY PARTIES!

16.08-Aug-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-280x260These events are a big deal at My Sister’s House, Atlanta Mission’s facility for women and children.

Once a month, Atlanta Moms Making a Difference, a local volunteer organization, stages a festive celebration for every child who has a birthday that month. All of My Sister’s House’s moms and children are invited, and the themed gatherings — a carnival, a petting zoo, etc. — are a blast.

It’s great to see the children’s faces as they revel in the fun. But it’s often just as special for the moms, some of whom have never been able to afford to throw a party for their children.

One mom recently cried tears of joy when she saw a “bounce house” set up for the party. She had always wanted one for her son’s birthday, but it was beyond her financial means.

“Birthday parties are such a big deal for our kids,” says Carolyn Patterson, founder of Atlanta Moms Making a Difference, “and we wanted to create the same happy memories for the kids at My Sister’s House. And also to provide their moms with a break from thinking about the stressors in their lives.”

Your support is needed! Learn more about how you can help the children at My Sister’s House on our website at atlantamission.org/ways-to-give

Help Vulnerable Children Today

Hundreds of homeless children come through the doors at Atlanta Mission every year . . . and every single one of them needs your support to have an opportunity to flourish in this world.

Just $21 provides a day of services to a guest at Atlanta Mission. For a child, that includes meals, shelter, clothing, school supplies, counseling, activities, celebrations, stability, structure, and a loving environment.story4

Our professional staff, with help from volunteers, meets the children’s needs, and also works with parents to give kids the strong families they deserve . . . all with the aim of breaking the cycle of homelessness.

Thank you for providing those opportunities for these kids!

Treasures in the Present

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

Two Scripture passages are key to Atlanta Mission’s philosophy of caring for the hundreds of children who come through our doors every year.

The first includes the words of Jesus, who reprimanded his disciples when they tried to shoo the little ones away. “Let the children come to me,” Jesus said. “Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children,” (Matthew 19:14. NLT).

We believe children are immeasurably valuable in God’s eyes, vital members of the Kingdom. And I’m sure you feel the same way. Your support goes a long way in treating these precious young souls accordingly, to bring innocence back to their childhood. And we hope they will someday trust Jesus as Savior.

The second passage comes straight from Solomon: “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it,” (Proverbs 22:6).

We believe children’s best chance to break the cycle of homelessness and become thriving members of their community comes via wise training and a solid education. So we work with both kids and their parents on these matters — the importance of spiritual growth, of acceptable behavior, of academic and social success.

Our children are not only our future, but treasures in the present, right here and right now. Thank you for helping to meet their needs!

Humbled to serve with you,

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO

The Light: July 2016

In the Valley of Dry Bones

“It was God’s way of getting my attention. Had I recovered quickly, I would’ve gone back to the streets and my self-destructive ways.” — By Larry

I lived on the streets for about 16 years . . . that is, if you can call it “living.” Mostly, I was just wandering from place to place, looking for drugs and booze, a bite to eat, and a place to sleep in peace.

I saw people get beaten and robbed. I saw people die — of overdoses, from violence, and from exposure to the elements. It was hard, but I also became hardened to it. When you live on the streets, you forget what real life is like. You forget what you lost.

It’s like Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones. You look at people on the streets, and there’s just no life there. All they’ve ever had is dead and gone.

But it was the only life I knew. I figured I’d probably die on the streets, too. But like Ezekiel’s dry bones, I was destined for new life . . . but not until after I got run over by a truck.

God slowed me down

It was August 29, 2011. I had a part-time job, and I had worked all night long. I was dead tired, and I fell asleep in a parking lot. Next thing I knew, a truck was driving over me. My leg got caught up in the drive shaft, and I could hear my bones cracking . . . then my ribs . . . then my skull.

I spent the next six months at Grady Hospital. My heart had been crushed, so they put me in an induced coma so it could heal. I later learned that my leg had been broken in six places, my hip in four places, my ribs in three places, my shoulders were dislocated, and my skull was cracked.

It’s a miracle that I didn’t die.

I was in the hospital and physical therapy for almost two years. I think it was God’s way of slowing me down and getting my attention. Had I recovered quickly, I would’ve gone back to the streets and my self-destructive ways.

I asked God to help turn my life around, and someone suggested Atlanta Mission. So I went, and things started looking up. It became sort of the command center for my life — physically, emotionally, spiritually.

Atlanta Mission taught me to fully rely on God, who promises to supply all our needs. He certainly put all the right people in place to help me — the doctors and nurses who put me back together, the people at Atlanta Mission who have helped me grow in the Lord. My faith has been reaffirmed. I connect with God every day.

Like Ezekiel’s dry bones, I came back to life, thanks to Atlanta Mission. And thanks to you and your support. Thank you!

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!

It’s Horrible on the Streets

What it’s like to live on the streets in the heat of summer.

Being out in the heat is horrible for a homeless guy. Trying to find shade while carrying all your things, it’s hard. I’ve overheated a few times, almost passed out. Thank God for Atlanta Mission giving us a cool place to escape.” — Jason16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-1-280x260

It’s exhausting when you have to walk around so much and have to lug so many things — my bags, my children, and my own body. I might be going to a job interview, and I’m covered in sweat. To cool off, I use baby wipes or just fan myself . . . or get on the bus and stand in front of the fan.” — Siera

It’s hard to find water. And most places you go, if you ask for water, they won’t give you any unless you’re a customer. It’s hard to find places to cool off, too. It’s really dangerous, and it can be fatal.” — Richard

Out in the heat, it’s like living in hell. Sometimes it feels like I just want to die. But now I’ve found Atlanta Mission, and I’ve found hope.” — Vanesa

Heat Relief

How do you beat the heat in the dog days of summer? For most, it’s just a matter of stepping into an air conditioned building or car, or even plunging into a pool.

But when you’re homeless, where’s the relief?

That’s where you come to the rescue, through your support of Atlanta Mission.

Two of our facilities — The Shepherd’s Inn (for men), and The Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children — are equipped with emergency services to help homeless neighbors escape the potentially deadly heat.

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-280x260Both shelters, which are open year-round, offer water, showers, laundry, and clean clothes. The Shepherd’s Inn offers already-made beds and beds for disabled men who have difficulty getting around.

And those are just the tangibles. Atlanta Mission also offers love, hope, and dignity — a safe place free of shame and guilt — to people who are suffering on the streets. And most of all, an opportunity to turn one’s life around.

“When they come in to escape the heat, that often gives us the opportunity to talk to them, to encourage them to take the next step, choose help, and come off the streets once and for all,” says Michael Sheppard, Choose Help Leader The Shepherd’s Inn. “We remind them that it’s going to be a long, hot summer, and this may be a good time to choose help and make some changes. It’s a window of opportunity.”

Thank you for providing that “window of opportunity” for homeless neighbors, for providing heat relief for those struggling to survive on the streets.

A Taste of Living Water

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

During these simmering, sultry days of summer, I can’t help but think of water, the thing most needed by the people we serve . . . not just to stay hydrated, but even to stay alive.

But I’m also referring to a type of water they might not yet know they need. I’m talking about living water, the kind that Jesus offers the Samaritan woman in a well-known passage from Scripture (John 4:1-26).

Jesus meets the woman during the heat of day near a well and asks, “Will you give me a drink?” She is surprised by the request, since Jews despised Samaritans in those days.

A discussion ensues, and Jesus says He can give her “living water,” saying that whoever drinks it “will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman asks Jesus to give her this water, and she goes on to believe He is the Messiah . . . and then shares the news with her entire village.

Thanks to you, many who come to Atlanta Mission seeking one kind of water also end up with the other — the living water of Jesus Christ.

Their lives are not only replenished physically, but transformed for eternity! And, like the Samaritan woman, many return to their homes and share their transformation with their families and neighbors.

Thank you for providing living water to our struggling neighbors!

Humbled to serve with you,

16.07-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese
President & CEO

The Light : June 2016

A Hard Life

I was basically homeless for 20 years, moving from the streets to a relative’s couch to a friend’s floor. I’ve never stayed in any one place for long.

I think I’ve stayed in over a hundred places over the years, in all sorts of conditions. I’ve had to sleep outdoors in extreme heat, and in the bitter cold.

This journey started when I was growing up in Memphis. My dad was never in the picture, and my mama was real mean; she’d whip me for almost anything. So I stayed at my grandma’s house as often as I could. She was the only person in my family who ever showed love toward me.

I often acted out in anger, and got in a lot of fights. I was in and out of juvenile detention, and as an adult, in and out of jail. I struggled with drugs, especially weed and taking pills.

Finally, about a year ago, I decided I wanted to turn my life around — not just for me, but for my daughter Natasha too. It was no way for a family to live. I planned to move away from Memphis and just start over. A friend recommended Atlanta Mission.

Right when I was having these thoughts, a person that I thought was a friend stole every penny I had — more than $3,000. I was going to buy a car with that money. So when that happened, it was like the last straw. I scraped up enough for two bus tickets to Atlanta.

It’s the best move I’ve ever made.

I spent almost a year at Atlanta Mission. That’s the longest that Natasha and I have ever stayed in one place. I went through their programs, and learned that my anger was really just my way of crying out for attention, for love. The people at Atlanta Mission really care about you, about helping you in real life.

Now I’ve got a job, and we have our own apartment. I’m going to get my GED, and then go to school to become a barber.

For the first time in my life, I’m happy and content. And thanks to your support of Atlanta Mission, our little family — Natasha and me — is stable and full of hope.

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!

Family Reunions

How you help broken families reunite . . . and why it matters.

Ellen* had a number of “life issues” she had to work through. She had grown up in a difficult home and, as an adult, had a lot of anger and mistrust. She acted out in inappropriate ways, and in the end, the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) had to remove her kids.

16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-1Devastated and afraid, Ellen turned to Atlanta Mission for help. She checked into My Sister’s House, the ministry’s facility for women and children. She was desperate to get her kids back, and willing to do whatever it took. She faithfully attended classes on parenting and dealing with her anger. And in the process, she was able to forgive a lot of people who had hurt her in the past.

 

Along the way, Ellen’s social worker at Atlanta Mission stayed in touch with DFCS, letting them know about Ellen’s progress. When she completed her classes, finished school, and got a good job, Atlanta Mission recommended that she be reunited with her children . . . and DFCS agreed.

“That’s always our hope, that families can be reunited,” says Rosa Chatmon, a social worker at Atlanta Mission. “For the future of our communities and our nation, we need strong families, and for parents to build strong young women and children.”

Broken families often yield broken — and even abused — children, who often turn to drugs, gangs, and/or violence as teens and young adults . . . and the cycle continues for their children. But thanks to you, Atlanta Mission’s counselors and programs help to break those cycles, help families to reconcile and heal, and move forward as productive members of society.

When families are healthy and intact, good things happen. Children have more stability, feel safe and loved, do better in school, have fewer social and emotional issues, and have higher self-esteem and confidence. They’re ripe for flourishing, for fulfilling their God-given potential.

In such situations, parents are often more responsible, hold good jobs, provide well, and avoid homelessness. It’s a win-win for families, all the way around.

Thanks to your generosity, families are reunited and made healthy and whole again!

*Name and photo have been changed to protect her identity.

Leaving a Legacy

By reading the stories this enewsletter, you can see how your support is making a transformative difference in the lives of individuals and families.

Wouldn’t it be great if your generosity could keep changing lives in the decades, even centuries, ahead . . . even after you’re long gone?

You can do that by remembering Atlanta Mission in your will or through a variety of other methods of planned giving.

Learn more about leaving a legacy behind after you’ve left this world behind:

atlantamission.org/plannedgiving

“It’s a Privilege”

Why this couple supports Atlanta Mission

 

Ryan and Christy both volunteered often at Atlanta Mission before they got married. They were impressed with the ministry’s work with homeless people and how lives were transformed.16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2

So to them, it only made sense that they’d keep supporting Atlanta Mission after their wedding — and not just as volunteers. They’re regular donors too.

“If a ministry is a priority for both of you, it will be a priority in your regular giving too,” Christy says.

“We like the impact Atlanta Mission has on individuals who want to get better,” Ryan adds. “It’s not just a daily handout. It’s a commitment both ways — from the people in the program, and from the team at Atlanta Mission. The people there have a heart for what they’re doing, and we feel privileged to support that.”

You Can Help Restore Families

As a supporter of Atlanta Mission, you understand the importance of a stable family environment. And as you read the stories in this issue, it becomes even more evident.

Just $21 provides a day of services to one of our guests — meals, shelter, clothes, programs, 16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Restore-Familieswhatever is needed to help transform their lives.

And for many, that transformation includes reconciliation and restoration with family members — and that’s often a difficult process, because of burned bridges and painful pasts. But Atlanta Mission specializes in facilitating that process; we have social workers with that kind of training.

So, please help build stronger families today with another gift to Atlanta Mission. Click here to make your donation today. And remember, just $21 can go a long way toward bringing a family back together.

Thank you!

All in the Family

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

People often become homeless after a breakdown of the family. Those breakdowns often result from a history of addictions, abuse, poor choices, and/or dysfunctional family dynamics. Men and women come to us daily, hurting and hopeless after the loss of family.

Scripture is clear about the importance of and God’s love for families — and His desire for restoration. Your incredible generosity plays a role not only in the restoration of individuals, but in families as well.

Many men and women at Atlanta Mission have left their families. But once God grabs their hearts, marriages are restored and parent-child relationships reconciled. It’s often a painful process, but the Master Healer will restore and buy back the loss.

I love hearing stories of strengthened families — transformed men and women becoming good examples to their loved ones . . . mothers and children finding
strength and stability . . . their joy and smiles made possible only because of a loving God. The story of Shaquella and Natasha in this newsletter is a perfect example of how a family found love and hope, and I have been blessed to watch it unfold.

Your generosity also allows us to help keep moms and their children together, restoring and strengthening those relationships. I look out on our playground and see moms and their kids laughing and loving together, perhaps for the first time.

I thank God for your love and support of those we serve. They are being transformed, and families restored, thanks to you.

Humbled to serve with you,

16.06-F02AT-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Jim Reese

President & CEO

The Light: May 2016

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!

16.05-eNewsletter-Blog-Johnson-Box580x363

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.

donate-graphic

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

The Light: March 2016

Please God, Just One More Chance

by Justin

When I smoked my first joint at 13, I didn’t realize that what I really wanted was attention, to feel like I belonged.

When I turned to heavier drugs, I had no idea that I was careening down a dangerous road that would almost kill me several times.

When I survived two brutal car wrecks and three overdoses, I couldn’t see that God clearly wanted me alive, and that He had a plan for me.

Though I grew up in a loving home, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I made poor choices to fill the void — hanging out with the wrong crowd, doing drugs and alcohol. I ended up losing my job, and I ruined my relationship with my parents and with a girlfriend. I numbed my pain with more drugs. It was a vicious cycle. A car accident that crushed my legs should have served as a wake-up call, but it didn’t. Ironically, it only deepened my dependence on pain pills.

Then I overdosed three times in six months. I wasn’t intentionally trying to kill myself, but I didn’t really care if I died, either. But the third time, I remember saying, “Please, God, just give me one more chance.”

He did. And for the first time, I admitted that I needed help. A counselor recommended The Potter’s House — one of Atlanta Mission’s long-term addiction recovery programs. I signed up right away.

They welcomed me with open arms. I finally found what I’d been looking for my whole life — love and acceptance. I belonged.

Two months later, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. By then, my relationship with him had been restored, because he knew my heart had changed, and he had seen me sober for the first time in more than a decade. When he died a few months later, he was at peace because I had turned my life around.

Atlanta Mission and The Potter’s House literally saved my life. I’ve learned how to deal with hard times without drugs. I have a full-time job. I am involved in my church, where I teach a children’s Sunday school class. I just bought a car, and I will soon be living independently.

Atlanta Mission connected me to my Heavenly father, which gave me the chance to reconnect to my own father. I owe God all the glory.

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!

How the Potter’s House Restores Lives

How your support helps recovering addicts find new life at The Potter’s House.

The Potter’s House is a 180-bed residential rehab facility for men, a service of Atlanta Mission specializing in addiction recovery.

But it’s so much more than that. Thanks to the generous support of people like you, The Potter’s House (TPH) is a place where lives are transformed from the inside out, where men learn to let go of destructive worldviews and to see and embrace everything in a brand-new light.

16.03-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-1-280x260It’s a place where resurrection happens in the hearts of men who once had little to no hope. It’s a place to “put off your old self [and] put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:20-24).

“We’re not just a rehab facility,” says Jeoson Thomas, one of TPH’s certified counselors. “We work with men to give them a different outlook on life — transformation through Christ. God restores these men to wholeness and restores relationships that were destroyed.”

The program, which lasts about a year, is a series of classes, about three months each, in this order:

Foundations – exploring the causes of addiction, the necessity of wanting to change, and the basics of the Christian faith.

Inner Healing – dealing with past issues, brokenness and sin; writing letters of confession, seeking forgiveness and healing.

Discipleship – growing in the Christian faith, establishing daily discipline and responsibility, participating in a 12-step program.

Re-Entry Prep – learning practical skills for everyday living, getting and keeping a job, balancing a budget, and relapse prevention.

It’s a holistic approach, helping men grow physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The ultimate goal is rehabilitation, restoration, and renewed dignity.

“It’s hard work, for us counselors and for our clients,” says Jeoson. “But it’s also incredibly satisfying work, to see their lives transformed, to see relationships restored, to see them reconciling with families and friends.”

That’s what resurrection stories look like. And that’s what your gifts to Atlanta Mission accomplish. These stories can’t happen without friends like you.

Easter Prayer

16.03-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Blog-Johnson-Box-580x360

Your Easter prayer — and ours — for guests at Atlanta Mission is that they will find new life . . . and that we’ll be one step closer toward the goal of ending homelessness, one person at a time. These are Easter stories, true resurrection stories of transformed lives. Thank you for making that possible!

To donate by phone, call 404-350-1301. To donate online, please click here.

A Farm for Breaking Addictions

After losing two brothers to alcoholism, Mildred Pendergrass Sheats decided to do something about it. In 1967, she donated a 550-acre farm in Jefferson, Georgia, to Atlanta Mission.

Her mandate for the property was clear: To help Georgia husbands, fathers, and brothers break free from their addictions.

Mrs. Sheats did not want others to experience the same heartache and tragedy that her family had experienced — twice.

16.03-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-280x260The farm and its facilities were named The Potter’s House, a nod to Jeremiah 18:1-6, where God says that we “are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” Men who go through The Potter’s House addiction recovery programs are essentially being re-molded into new creations, like clay in the potter’s hands.

 

Just like that first gift in 1967, your ongoing support enables thousands of men to break the chains of addiction, equipping them to reclaim the homes, jobs, families, and dignity. The impact of these transformed lives can be felt all across Atlanta and Northeast Georgia with hundreds of trained employees, reunited families, restored marriages, and active community members.

Faithful Friends

Last year, about 650 men, women, and children escaped homelessness for good, thanks to the support of friends like you.

Atlanta Mission’s goal is to end homelessness, one person at a time. To keep making progress toward that goal, we rely on the the consistent, ongoing support of many — especially our monthly givers, a special group we refer to as Faithful Friends.

16.03-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Blog-CTASuch steady support ensures ongoing help for our guests — everything from the physical to the practical, from the emotional to the spiritual. Your monthly support provides meals, shelter, clothing, job training, recovery programs, transitional housing, spiritual guidance, and more — just about everything a person needs to get back on their feet, find a fresh start, and have hope for the future.

Faithful Friends are donors who provide critically needed support to Atlanta Mission on a monthly basis to help end homelessness. It’s a powerful way to walk alongside the men, women, and children at Atlanta Mission.

To sign up to become a Faithful Friend,
please go to www.atlantamission.org/monthlydonor. Thank you!

Easter Miracles, Every Day

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

The week before the very first Easter was a puzzling and heartbreaking time for many who followed Jesus. They were there when a crowd turned on Him, when He was mocked and beaten, when He was put on a cross and crucified. They must have thought that was the end . . . but it wasn’t. Three days later, they saw an empty tomb and walked with a glorious risen Savior!

Many people come to Atlanta Mission beaten down, lost, alone, hopeless. But because of a risen Savior, hope is restored and, like little resurrections, life is transformed when they, too, meet this risen Savior.

Because of your support, the miracle of Easter is seen every day in the lives of many of those we serve. Hope might start with a meal and end with new life.

As we celebrate Easter, may we stop and remember just how much He loves us — so much that He died for us to pay for our sins, and then rose from the dead to give us eternal life. Have you ever experienced the miracle of Easter and accepted His love and forgiveness? We are all sinners in need of life transformation, and Jesus is the source of a transformed life. He is the risen reason for Easter!

I wish you and your family a very special Easter, and thank you again for your life-changing support. He is Risen indeed!

Humbled to serve with you,

16.03-F02AT-March-eNewsletter-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140

Jim Reese

President & CEO

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

Shamika’s Story of Transformation

Would They Spend Christmas on the Streets?

Shamika was desperate. She had lost her job and had been evicted from her apartment . . . along with her 2-year-old daughter, Shaniyah.

“I was in a terrible situation,” Shamika says. “I was crying constantly. I was depressed. It was hard, real hard.”

With the holidays fast approaching and no family to help, Shamika worried that she and Shaniyah would have to spend Christmas on the streets of Atlanta.
“I didn’t see any way out,” she says.

But before she and her baby spent one night on the streets, she found a way . . . at Atlanta Mission. Shamika and Shaniyah were welcomed with open arms at My Sister’s House, our facility for women and children.

“It was such a blessing,” Shamika says.

The end of a long, hard road.

Arriving at Atlanta Mission was the beginning of the end of a long, hard road for Shamika. Before coming here she had struggled to find work. “Everywhere I went, they weren’t hiring,” she says. “Or, when I had interviews, I didn’t get the job.”

Our caring staff was able to help Shamika land a good job. And at My Sister’s House, she and Shaniyah found a family atmosphere where they felt loved and encouraged. “It’s so inspiring,” she says, with tears in her eyes. “It’s positive all around. I love it here.”

Last Christmas, she says, “was really nice. Shaniyah got some gifts, and everyone was kind. That’s all that mattered.”

Shamika and Shaniyah recently moved out to their own place. They’re excited to celebrate the holidays in their own home this year, but Shamika says she’ll always remember the gift of love last Christmas from the staff and volunteers at My Sister’s House.

“They were wonderful,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Atlanta Mission, I don’t know what would have happened. They got me back on my feet.”

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!

The Light: December 2015

Christmas: No Time to Be Homeless

Two years ago, Fred was working as a security guard. Then, just like that, his own security was gone.

He’d been laid off and couldn’t find more work. He was barely surviving on his unemployment checks — and then his car died.

“I was low on finances, heading toward destitution, and unable to pay rent,” he says.

Fred hit the streets, not knowing where he would turn. He was terrified he’d have to spend the night outside, alone. And worse, it was almost Christmas.

“What a time to be homeless,” he says.

He started asking others who were homeless if they could recommend a place to stay. Several pointed to Atlanta Mission, so Fred decided to check it out.

“That first night, I got a good meal and a good night’s sleep,” he says.

The next day, Fred went out and “pounded the pavement,” as he puts it, and applied for numerous jobs. He did it again the next day. And the next.

For almost a full year, Fred kept looking . . . and striking out. It was discouraging, but Atlanta Mission staff helped keep him going.

“I wanted a job right away, but it didn’t happen, and that was frustrating,” he says. “I kept wondering, When will this end? When will I be self-sufficient again?

“Atlanta Mission was a psychological lifesaver for me. I can’t say enough about how much support I got from them. It really makes a difference, because [extended unemployment] can be pretty scary.

“But they kept saying, ‘Just keep plowing ahead. Do your thing. God will take care of everything. As long as you believe and do your part, things will work out.’”

Which is exactly what happened. Atlanta Mission kept encouraging him and giving him vocational training. And Fred got a job — as a security guard — and moved into Fuqua Hall, Atlanta Mission’s transitional housing unit. He is working and saving money to move out some time in 2016.

Fred is looking forward to living on his own again, but says it never would’ve happened without Atlanta Mission.

“They changed my life,” he says. “I had gotten away from God, and they brought me back to God. They also gave me a greater appreciation for my perspective on life. I used to be selfish, putting me first. I’m not selfish any more. I’m putting others first.”

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!

Back on Their Feet:

How you helped prepare these men for great things in 2016.

“They’ve helped with my recovery. I’m working a temp job now, and in 2016 , I want to get my own apartment, stay clean, and get closer to God. 2015ATL12ENATL-Dec-eNewsletter-Blog-Story-2-282x298Without Atlanta Mission, it would have been hard for me to get back on my feet and back into society.” — Otis

“I was struggling with drugs, and this place has been incredibly helpful with my rehab and recovery. It’s prepared me to stay sober and move on, so I can live on my own. I’ll wash dishes, anything. I’m just grateful for a chance to start over.” — James

“Atlanta Mission gave me all the tools I needed to find a new job. Now I’m the Fire Safety Director at a local museum. And in 2016, I want to be in my own place, find a church home, and stay strong in my faith.” — Edmond

“When I lost my job, I came here and worked part time till I could find something to do with my degree. Atlanta Mission taught me how to budget. Now I’m working full-time with DeKalb County. My hopes are to buy a home and live independently.” — Kawagi

Twenty Years of Transition — Thanks to You!

Twenty years ago, Atlanta Mission had a vision for transitional housing, a place to help men get back on their fiscal feet, a temporary shelter for men who’d recently returned to the workforce, but couldn’t yet afford to live on their own.

That building, Fuqua Hall, today houses 92 men who are successfully making that transition, thanks to the ongoing support of friends like you.

But did you know that it might not have happened without the help of . . . the Olympics?

The facility was built before the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta — and then leased out to the international press during the 45 days of the Games. The income helped pay for the new building, named Fuqua Hall after Atlanta businessman J.B. Fuqua, who supported the project.

After the Games, Atlanta Mission took over the building, which is right next to The Shepherd’s Inn, our men’s shelter. Both facilities are across the street from Centennial Olympic Park.

Today, Fuqua Hall includes 92 single-unit apartments for men who work full time, and/or attend school. Men stay a minimum of six months; graduation depends on successful completion of client and program goals.

Men coming out of homelessness are often overcoming tragic losses, difficult circumstances, or destructive lifestyles. Fuqua Hall’s programs provide extended support to help men like these navigate the transition to independent living.

And truly, none of this work would happen without your generous support. Thank you for caring!

An Exhilarating Experience

Atlanta Mission’s annual 5K Race to End Homelessness will be held on February 20, 2016, and you don’t want to miss it. Just ask one of our clients who ran the race last year.

When she came to Atlanta Mission in early 2014 for help, she was using a walker. She’d had an accident and subsequent surgery that required screws to hold her ankle together. She worked hard to get her life back together, and when the 5K rolled around last February, she decided to participate. For her, just getting to the finish line was considered a win. She was thrilled when she got there.

“It was an exhilarating experience of health and recovery,” she says. “It was freedom and power. When I finished, I knew I could do anything.”

She will run again in February’s event, and wants you to join her — because it’s fun, because it’s good, and because it’s a big fundraiser. We are aiming for more than 2,500 participants and hope to raise up to $200,000. Please join us!

Save the date: Saturday, February 20, 2016. Please go to atlantamission.org/race to register today!

Thank You for Helping Them Escape the Streets

On New Year’s Eve, there will be up to 7,000 homeless men, women, and children in Metro Atlanta. That stat will remained unchanged for the first day of 2016.

article-photo-03Those people are 7,000 reasons your support is so vital. For many of them, one year just blurs into the next, facing the same harsh conditions, day after day. They need a reason to hope, to press on.

Your gift will help Atlanta Mission continue to provide meals, shelter, and life-transforming programs well into 2016. Your continued support will help us finish 2015 strong, and start the new year on solid ground.

Those things are important, yes. But it’s not about us. It’s about those 7,000 people. While most of America watches the ball drop at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the least we can do for the “least of these” is to position them for a brighter New Year. At the very least, happier and healthier than the year before.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

Please give by December 31 to receive a tax deduction for 2015!

To donate by phone, call 404-350-1301. To donate online, please go here.

A Message from Jim Reese, President & CEO

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

Closing out one year and looking to the next creates in me a heart of incredible appreciation and even higher anticipation.

As I look back on 2015 and all we have accomplished together, it is amazing to see how God has moved in so many lives.

And I think of all the things that happened in 2015 because of you:

• Women, including many single mothers, are flocking to the Day Shelter, many more than we expected — all of them looking for, and finding, hope!

• Men are taking courageous steps of faith through life-changing programs and Bible study. Many learn that they are loved and that they really do matter.

• Children are finding love and care, not only from our team, but many in new ways from their moms, who are overcoming unimaginable struggles.

It is humbling and overwhelming to think how God has used us together to touch so many lives.

And now we look forward to 2016 with great anticipation, as we help those we serve physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and vocationally. We want them to be ready in all of these areas when they leave us and join the community.

I want to sincerely thank you for how you have made all of this possible this past year. And I want to ask you to continue to partner with us both financially and in prayer in 2016. We cannot do this work without you.

May you and your family have a truly blessed new year.

 

Blessings,ATL-eNewsletter-NL-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140

Jim Reese

President & CEO

Tremaine’s Story of Transformation

“I Ran From My Feelings”

When people hit rock bottom, they often cry out to God, pleading, “Show me a sign!” That happened to Tremaine a year ago. And God showed him one — literally.

Tired of battling his addictions and emotional pain, Tremaine decided to check out Atlanta Mission one night. At dinner, he looked up and saw the sign on the wall.

It was a picture of a burly guy, with this blurb underneath: Overcoming addiction. Rebuilding his life with the help of Atlanta Mission’s long-term residential recovery program.

“That was it,” Tremaine says today. “I felt like God was saying, ‘This is where you’re supposed to be.’”Tremaine

It was a long journey to get here . . .

“A big lie all along”

As a child, Tremaine couldn’t figure out why his dad always ignored him. At 18, he learned the truth: The man was not his father. His biological dad, an alcoholic, left while Tremaine’s mom was pregnant. She settled with another man, whom she told Tremaine was his father.

“It was this big lie all along,” Tremaine says. “It messed me up. I had a lot of resentment, but I ran from my feelings. I turned to drugs, and I hung with the wrong crowd because I wanted a family.”

Tremaine was shot in a drive-by shooting. The bullet went through his leg and he recovered, but he knows it could’ve gone through his head or his heart.

He was more careful after that, but kept partying. His drug addictions were out of control. About a year ago, he realized he was “lost and hopeless.” Then a friend pointed him to Atlanta Mission . . .
“Why God put me here”

After getting that “sign,” Tremaine soon had another reason to go clean: Atlanta Mission needed help in the kitchen, and Tremaine, a culinary school graduate, loved to cook.

“That comes from my grandmother,” he says, “seeing her cook for our family, and how it brought everyone together.” Tremaine thrived in the kitchen: “It was like God said, ‘You still get to do what you love to do, even while you get the help you need.’”

Cooking and serving last year’s Thanksgiving meal was one of his biggest thrills. He hopes to do it again this year — this time as a volunteer. Tremaine has graduated from Atlanta Mission, and now has a full-time job as a chef in a local hotel. “I love cooking for people,” he says. “It’s why God put me here.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Veronica’s Story of Transformation

transformed-veronica

“I want to tell donors, ‘Thank God for you!”

Your support of Atlanta Mission is helping Veronica leave addiction behind

Veronica was in jail, worrying about her two children, wondering where they would go after she got out. And that’s when a young lady shared that she knew of a wonderful place that would help Veronica and her family—Atlanta Mission. “Right then, I knew that’s where God was sending me,” Veronica says.

Addiction had been dogging Veronica for decades, and she knew it had to stop. “I used to have a drug addiction which God cured me from instantaneously. Fifteen years ago, I just stopped. Unfortunately, I picked up alcohol, which is what brought me to the Mission. I have been a functioning alcoholic for about five years now, but I couldn’t stop drinking and driving. I came here voluntarily because I knew that I couldn’t stop drinking as easily as I stopped drugs.”

“My children have been through a lot with me and my addiction. I agonized over whether to bring them with me or not—but I felt coming to the program with them would help heal our family.

And it’s working. They didn’t know what to expect, but Atlanta Mission staff helped get them in school and assisted me with getting school supplies and backpacks.”

“I know that my being here would not be possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of people’s gifts . . .”

Veronica is working hard to change her life and leave her addictions behind forever. But because of friends and partners like you, her time at Atlanta Mission has also opened her eyes to God’s love and His calling for her life.

“I actually graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. My dream was to become a personal chef for people with medical problems. So since I have come here, I have been working in the kitchen, and God has laid it on my heart to feed the homeless and the needy.”

“This is a great program and it has given me an intimate relationship with God. I had walked away from Him, but coming here has put Him back into my life. I’m going to get my recovery . . . but I know I can’t do this without Him.”

Veronica’s heart is filled with joy and gratitude for her new beginning. “I want to tell donors, ‘Thank God for you!’ It is a blessing from God that we have people in our lives that care enough to give to someone they don’t know. I feel loved and cared about. Thank you for helping me in my fresh start.”

Thank you for the gift you share today to help save and change more lives like Veronica’s!

The Light – November Newsletter

Would They Spend Christmas on the Streets?

Shamika was desperate. She had lost her job and had been evicted from her apartment . . . along with her 2-year-old daughter, Shaniyah.

“I was in a terrible situation,” Shamika says. “I was crying constantly. I was depressed. It was hard, real hard.”

With the holidays fast approaching and no family to help, Shamika worried that she and Shaniyah would have to spend Christmas on the streets of Atlanta. “I didn’t see any way out,” she says.

But before she and her baby spent one night on the streets, she found a way . . . at Atlanta Mission. Shamika and Shaniyah were welcomed with open arms at My Sister’s House, our facility for women and children.

“It was such a blessing,” Shamika says.

2015ATL11EN-Nov-eNewsletter-NL-Blog-Header-300x205pxThe end of a long, hard road.

Arriving at Atlanta Mission was the beginning of the end of a long, hard road for Shamika. Before coming here she had struggled to find work. “Everywhere I went, they weren’t hiring,” she says. “Or, when I had interviews, I didn’t get the job.”

Our caring staff was able to help Shamika land a good job. And at My Sister’s House, she and Shaniyah found a family atmosphere where they felt loved and encouraged. “It’s so inspiring,” she says, with tears in her eyes. “It’s positive all around. I love it here.”

Last Christmas, she says, “was really nice. Shaniyah got some gifts, and everyone was kind. That’s all that mattered.”

Shamika and Shaniyah recently moved out to their own place. They’re excited to celebrate the holidays in their own home this year, but Shamika says she’ll always remember the gift of love last Christmas from the staff and volunteers at My Sister’s House.

“They were wonderful,” she says. “If it wasn’t for Atlanta Mission, I don’t know what would have happened. They got me back on my feet.”

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!

You’re Bringing Joy to Kids at Atlanta Mission

For a child, nothing beats the wonder of Christmas. The lights. The carols. The holiday specials on TV. The joy. And the presents!

In a perfect world, every child would experience these things in their own 2015ATL11EN-Nov-eNewsletter-NL-Blog-Story-2home, with their own family, their own Christmas tree, and their own stockings hung by their own fireplaces.

But it’s not a perfect world. Families break up. Divorce, abuse, addictions, and evictions happen. Jobs are lost; so is hope. And there’s often no place to go.

But thanks to you, there IS a place for them this Christmas.

Your support of Atlanta Mission helps provide two places for moms with kids — My Sister’s House and the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children. Atlanta Mission works with “displaced” moms and kids all the time who’d rather be in their own homes, their families fully and happily intact.

Atlanta Mission can’t replace that perfect scenario, but thanks to you, they come close, fostering a family atmosphere with lots of love and joy. All inspired by the source of the celebration, Jesus Himself.

Because of you, Christmas at Atlanta Mission is a happy time for kids . . . and their moms. Joy to the world . . . and to all the mothers and children who will spend these holidays as our special guests.

A Message from Jim Reese, President & CEO

Dear Friend of Atlanta Mission,

When they saw the star, they were overjoyed (Matthew 2:10).

I love the story of the Three Wise Men and how a brilliant star led them straight to Bethlehem . . . and the baby Jesus, the Light of the World.

Atlanta Mission’s logo — a light — is like that, drawing our homeless neighbors out of the darkness and into the warm glow of God’s love.

That light is only possible because of you!

One of my favorite things about Christmas is that those we serve, no matter how difficult their circumstances, find joy and thankfulness in that light. They arrive with little more than what will fit in a bag or suitcase, but they experience goodness and gladness at Atlanta Mission. They are so grateful to be off the street, to be with people who love and care for them, to be able to look to a future of hope rather than the pain of the past.

Such a place is only possible because of you and your compassion. Thanks to you, lives are transformed through the power of Christ.

Last Christmas, I sat with a father who was so thankful to be reunited with his children. He was learning from Atlanta Mission how to be the father he never had — and the father he always wanted to be. I watched his wife and daughters celebrate the change in his life. I believe it was the best Christmas present they ever got!

On behalf of those we serve, thank you for your heart for Christ. May the light of Christ shine especially bright this year.

ATL-eNewsletter-NL-Blog-Director-Photo-140x140Blessings,

 

Jim Reese
President & CEO

Fred’s Story of Transformation

Two years ago, Fred was working as a security guard. Then, just like that, his own security was gone.

He’d been laid off and couldn’t find more work. He was barely surviving on his unemployment checks — and then his car died.Fred

“I was low on finances, heading toward destitution, and unable to pay rent,” he says.

Fred hit the streets, not knowing where he would turn. He was terrified he’d have to spend the night outside, alone. And worse, it was almost Christmas.

“What a time to be homeless,” he says.

He started asking others who were homeless if they could recommend a place to stay. Several pointed to Atlanta Mission, so Fred decided to check it out.

“That first night, I got a good meal and a good night’s sleep,” he says.

The next day, Fred went out and “pounded the pavement,” as he puts it, and applied for numerous jobs. He did it again the next day. And the next.

For almost a full year, Fred kept looking . . . and striking out. It was discouraging, but Atlanta Mission staff helped keep him going.

“I wanted a job right away, but it didn’t happen, and that was frustrating,” he says. “I kept wondering, When will this end? When will I be self-sufficient again?

“Atlanta Mission was a psychological lifesaver for me. I can’t say enough about how much support I got from them. It really makes a difference, because [extended unemployment] can be pretty scary.

“But they kept saying, ‘Just keep plowing ahead. Do your thing. God will take care of everything. As long as you believe and do your part, things will work out.’”

Which is exactly what happened. Atlanta Mission kept encouraging him and giving him vocational training. And Fred got a job — as a security guard — and moved into Fuqua Hall, Atlanta Mission’s transitional housing unit. He is working and saving money to move out some time in 2016.

Fred is looking forward to living on his own again, but says it never would’ve happened without Atlanta Mission.

“They changed my life,” he says. “I had gotten away from God, and they brought me back to God. They also gave me a greater appreciation for my perspective on life. I used to be selfish, putting me first. I’m not selfish any more. I’m putting others first.”

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!

Laura’s Story of Transformation

laura-bioAs a child, Laura didn’t have much of a father figure, because her dad was rarely around.

Though she longed for her father, the pain was too much to handle. “I grew up with resentment and insecurity around men.”

But as often happens in these situations, Laura ended up dating men who reminded her of her father. And she got burned. She has two children — both boys — by two different men, neither of whom stuck around.

Her family ended up bouncing from home to home, and often ended up in squalid living conditions. One location was particularly deplorable, and when Laura spotted a rat one day last summer, she’d had enough.

They turned to My Sister’s House (MSH), Atlanta Mission’s facility for women and children, and found more love and support than they could’ve ever imagined.

“It’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to our family,” says Laura. “They take such good care of us. The program here is like doing surgery on your heart. You open it up, poke around, see what’s going on. After you take all the junk out, you stitch it back together. It’s not brand new and shiny again, but it is restored.”

And it’s all done with dignity and respect.

It’s called “My Sister’s House” for a reason. When peers ask MSH kids where they live, they don’t have to say “a homeless shelter.” They just say, “At my sister’s house.”

School buses pick them up first and drop them off last, so other children don’t have to see where they live. And MSH kids are given school uniforms to help them fit in.

“A lot of these kids are concerned about how they’re perceived by their peers,” says Jeremy Stephens, a behavior specialist at MSH. “We want them to find their identity and value not in their financial situation or where they live, but in who God says they are.”

It seems to be working. Laura’s older son, who has some learning difficulties, used to think he was stupid. Not anymore. Now he’s more confident in himself, and he’s a proud reader, carrying a book everywhere he goes.

His mom has also found new identity in Christ. “I used to look for a father figure in men,” she says. “I didn’t realize it, but I was looking for the love of the Father, who never left me or abandoned me. And now I’ve found Him.”

As for Laura’s son, he has just one word for living at My Sister’s House: “Awesome!”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Henry’s Story of Transformation

henry-bioA year ago, Henry was sleeping in an abandoned warehouse in Macon. He was one of many crack addicts who called the place “home.” “The streets were eating me alive,” he says. Henry had gone through a rehab program and had stayed clean for three months before relapsing. A concerned friend ran into Henry one afternoon and noticed he was high. “What are you doing?” the friend asked. “I thought you’d straightened up.” The friend had been to Atlanta Mission several years before, and told Henry that if he wanted to beat his addiction and turn his life around, he should try it too. Henry agreed. The next morning, Henry’s friend drove him to the bus stop, and bought him a one-way ticket to Atlanta. Henry was in for the ride of his life. Out of control Henry’s ride started 53 years ago in south Georgia, growing up on the family farm. It was a stable, loving family, and Henry, the third of three kids, says he was spoiled. “I’m the baby of the family,” he says, “and I got almost everything I wanted. I’d say, ‘Dad, I need this,’ or ‘I need that.’ He’d say, ‘OK, you got it.’”

Henry and his dad were close. They went for long walks among the farm’s pecan trees, talking about life. His dad hoped Henry would some day take over the farm. But Henry, who grew tired of farm work, wasn’t interested: “I know that disappointed my dad.”

Henry went to work in a factory, and he ended up “getting caught up in the world,” as he puts it. “Doing drugs, smoking weed, snorting cocaine.” At 18, he fathered a little girl, but he never married and didn’t really stick around. Several years later, Henry’s dad died of cancer . . . and Henry, feeling depressed and guilty, spun out of control.

He spent much of the next three decades as a crack addict. He moved to Macon to live with his sister, but he never could break free of his addiction. And then Henry’s friend recommended Atlanta . . .

“I Was Missing God”

“I got off the bus and walked straight to the Mission,” Henry says. “At first, I really didn’t want to be here. But as I stayed, day by day, I started listening and learning. I came to realize what was missing in my life: God.”

That was last July. Henry, who’d been a drug addict for 30 years, has been clean and sober since. He says he hasn’t even been tempted to go back to crack. Henry says if it weren’t for Atlanta Mission, “I don’t know if I’d be dead or what. But I do know that I’m not selfish any more. I’ve learned that it’s not all about me.” And though he didn’t know it at the time, Henry now realizes that even on those nights when he was out cold in a crack house, God had a different idea “It’s my favorite verse,” Henry says.“I look at it every day, and I’ve memorized it. It’s Jeremiah 29:11.”

Henry pauses and breaks into a big smile to recite the passage:

“For I know the plans I have for you. To prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Stories like this are a direct result of your kindness and generosity. The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you for your continued support!

Justin’s Story of Transformation

One of the first things you notice upon meeting Justin are the three words tattooed on his neck:

Death Before Dishonor

He got the tattoo at 14 when he joined a street gang notorious for its violence and drug running. Justin had grown up in a broken home with parents who battled addiction. His mom was rarely home, and when his dad was killed in a drunk driving accident, Justin, then 11 and with a 7-year-old brother, took things into his own hands.

He started doing drugs to numb his pain, and selling drugs to make a living. He joined the gang. He bought a gun — and bought into the lifestyle.

“I was a monster,” he says now. He was violent, often getting into fights. He abused drugs, and overdosed several times. “I should be dead,” he says. He’s been to jail 26 times; his longest lockup was for one year.

Along the way, Justin and his girlfriend have had two children — a 3-year-old son and a 1-year-old daughter. Having a daughter got under his skin — in the best possible way. Justin suddenly realized he hadn’t been much of a family man. He didn’t know how.

“I didn’t want that lifestyle anymore,” he says. “I wanted to be there for my kids.”

He learned that Atlanta Mission does a great job restoring lives and healing addictions, so he came for a stay.

At first, he didn’t like the rules and regulations, and balked at Bible studies and chapel services. But he started reading the Bible, and . . . “

And I started to get feelings, like God was talking to me,” he says. Two weeks later, overwhelmed with a feeling of peace, Justin decided to give his heart to God. “I felt immediate relief, and the bad thoughts in my head went away.”

Justin enrolled in a course called Stepping Up, which teaches men to embrace their roles as fathers and as husbands. Justin says it really helped him, and today he is reconnecting with his children, who are with their mother in another state. “We talk on the phone a lot,” he says. “I want them to know me, and I want to be a part of their lives.”

He is also in training to become a professional barber, and once he opens his own shop, he hopes that his whole family will be back together.

“If it weren’t for Atlanta Mission, I’d either be dead or in prison,” Justin says. “Now, I can be there for my kids.”

The lives of men, women, and children are being transformed every day at Atlanta Mission thanks to your continued kindness and generosity!