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