THE LIGHT: November 2018
A New Family for the Holidays
Chilo and her young son had never experienced a real family Christmas before. Until now.
For many people, Christmas and the holiday season are a joyful, special time, filled with memories of time spent with loving friends and family. For others, however, there are no joyful memories.
Chilo, a 25-year-old single mother at My Sister’s House has few happy memories from her childhood. “I was adopted,” she says. “It was rough because I was always the outcast in the family. High school wasn’t any better. I was the lame one at school, everyone always picking on me.”
Then, when she graduated from high school, her family told her she would have to leave home. “They didn’t want me. I didn’t have a job or anywhere to go. The past six years, I just jumped from house to house. I never had anything of my own,” she says.
In 2016, Chilo gave birth to her only son, Anthony. But by the summer of 2017, she was truly homeless.
“For a long time, I never felt like God heard my prayers,” she says. “But then He gave me this chance to start over. Now I say, ‘thank you, Lord.’”
The Support She Never Got
Atlanta Mission immediately surrounded Chilo and Anthony with an entire support team of advocates, social workers, vocational training managers, counselors, educators, spiritual guides, and friends to address the root causes of her homelessness and give her hope for the first time in her life.
“Over the past year, I’ve grown so much,” she says. “The people here helped me through everything and let me know I’m not alone. These are the only people who ever supported me. They taught me how to be a better mother, they’re helping me get certified as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and they’re helping me find housing. Atlanta Mission and my son are the only family I have.”
Finally, last year, at My Sister’s House, Chilo and Anthony experienced their first special Christmas with “family” and friends, filled with new happy memories.
“I want to thank the donors for everything,” she says. “Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, new clothes, new career, and a new life. They made it all possible.”
A New Smile for Bishop
Family trauma took Bishop’s smile away. You gave it back to him.
It was one of the proudest moments of Bishop’s life. Last summer, he gave his daughter who he calls,“one of his best friends”—away in marriage. It was special because loving relationships have never been easy for him.
“I come from a family of 15,” Bishop recalls. “We hung together, stuck together. Then I was molested by one of my siblings. From then on, I kept a lot of things to myself. I had a lot of depression.”
As an adult, Bishop was always able to hold on to a job. But the depression and memories were never far from the surface. He struggled to build healthy relationships, even with his own children. Then one day, he got hurt on the job. Unable to work, he grew more depressed and eventually lost his job. He started drinking. Everything went downhill. One thing led to another and he finally ended up homeless.
He felt hopeless. “I was going to jump in front of a train and commit suicide,” he says. “But God sent me an angel. This guy grabbed me and said, ‘This isn’t for you,’ and he brought me to Atlanta Mission.”
Through spiritual nurturing, addiction-recovery classes, counseling, and a loving, supportive community of friends and mentors he found at Atlanta Mission, Bishop opened up and shared his painful past for the first time. “I carried that burden for 35 years,” he says. “The staff here is awesome. They helped me get my life back, they helped me overcome my obstacles. I feel like I’m living in a dream, because so much has happened to me.”
But there was one more blessing coming to Bishop. “For years, I could never smile because I didn’t have any teeth,” he says. “When my daughter got married, there are no pictures of me smiling. But Atlanta Mission got me a new set of teeth, so my daughter is going to put her wedding dress back on and we’re going to take another photo with my new teeth.
“One day, I’m going to bring all my kids to Atlanta Mission so they can see the place that saved their daddy’s life,’’ says Bishop.
This is the kind of difference caring people like you make every day at Atlanta Mission. Thank you!
How Atlanta Mission Impacted Joe’s Life
ATLANTA MISSION: HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH ATLANTA MISSION?
JOE: I read the book Same Kind of Different as Me, and it had a huge impact. It convinced me that God was telling me that I should use the talents He gave me to give back to the homeless . . . Once God led me to meet with [Atlanta Mission President & CEO] Jim Reese, I knew this was the place that I could get plugged in and assist in transforming lives, including my own. It has been a very rewarding experience.
ATLANTA MISSION: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO GET INVOLVED?
JOE: I’ve been a Board member and chaired the annual golf tournament. I’ve also assisted Jim and the development staff by introducing them to potential donors. And I’ve had the privilege of being a bit of an ambassador, inviting other men like myself to Atlanta Mission. Now they’re impacting lives (including their own).
ATLANTA MISSION: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE LOOKING TO GET INVOLVED?
JOE: The Bible says in Luke 12:48 “from one who has been given much, much will be expected.” Life is not complete unless we share our blessings with those less fortunate. By getting involved at Atlanta Mission you will meet some wonderful people, and they will richly impact your life.
Hope Begins with a Meal
Imagine what it’s like to have no one ever look at you.
Then you sit at a table with others and someone asks your name. You share a conversation.
That’s what Thanksgiving looks like at Atlanta Mission. It’s giving people experiencing homelessness the chance to go from complete isolation to comfort and a chance to feel valued. It’s not about the meal. It’s the relationships that are forming that truly change lives.
When you provide meals for a table of four, you help rescue men, women, and children from hunger and the streets. You give them sweet fellowship with new friends. And you ensure they receive hope and life transformation through the power of Christ.
$10.68 feeds a table of four this Thanksgiving.
From Soul-Crushing Loneliness to Joyful Fellowship
Very soon, men, women and children at Atlanta Mission will celebrate Christmas. Our halls will be filled with the joy of new friendships, restored families, and God’s redeeming love.
Watching people progress on their faith journey, so they can see and understand the real reason for the season, is inspiring. The Savior unites them with the Father. For many people here, a loving father is something they’ve never experienced before. Now, Christmas is about His love expressed through His son Jesus Christ. And that changes everything.
When our guests were out on the streets struggling just to survive another day, Christmas was the furthest thing from their minds. Because of your faithful prayers and support for Atlanta Mission, they’re enjoying this season for its true, spiritual worth.
As you spend time with your loved ones this holiday season, I hope you receive added joy knowing that you are giving your neighbors experiencing homelessness food, shelter, and comfort — and a more meaningful celebration, too. Even if you never meet one of them, your impact on their lives will extend to eternity. What an extraordinary gift!
On behalf of the people we serve and our entire team, I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas.
President & CEO
Ways to Give
We’d be honored to have you share in the joys, struggles and transformations of Atlanta’s most vulnerable souls.