TALES FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE: A Peak Inside the Burnside Shelter

This is a season of remembering and giving thanks. One of our favorite ways to stop and celebrate at the Mission is by sharing “Glimmers”- short stories of hope that each of us encounter. Below are a collection of our recent favorites from the Burnside Shelter, shared by director Tim, and Guest Care Manager, Andrew.

When the Least Likely Are Transformed

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He was surprised to see her face. Visibly changed, Gail* came up and gave Tim a big hug, thanking him for everything he’d done, for not giving up on her.
 
“What makes this incredibly significant and utterly amazing is that she was by far the most difficult guest I’ve served in many years,” said Tim, Director of Burnside Services.

“Gail suffers from significant mental illness and addiction, and her presence at the Mission required us to contact police and other outside agencies many times, to no avail, to help with her toxicity…

“Standing in front of me today was a seemingly totally different individual, to the point most of us didn’t even recognize her.

She was kind, full of life, and most amazing of all, thankful for what I did for her at her worst time.   

“To be honest, I didn’t have faith that I’d see her in this state, that she was just too far gone…”

Tim asked Gail if she remembered anything that had happened before she got back on her medications and sober from addiction.

“Yes, I’m so sorry for what I put you through,” she said.

“For anyone on our team who served her in that time, we are in awe of God’s incredible work through all this and immediately praised Him as a result,” said Tim.

“Never discount what He can do in the worst of challenges, and how your current sufferings can bring about absolutely awe-inspiring redemption and reconciliation.

“I’ll keep her in my heart as a testimony of the amazing way Christ works through us here.”

Give what you have

It’s a beautiful thing to witness when people creatively use their skills to serve the downtrodden.

One of those moments happened on a recent afternoon when a bright orange truck pulled up tochurros the curb at Burnside. A man began handing out fresh, hot churros to the guests.

“This man spoke to no one, but came simply with a desire to serve from what he had,” said Andrew, Guest Care Manager.

“He did not know what the response would be, but guests and staff alike began to line up for the warm, tasty treats. For over an hour, Churros Locos served our community.”

Andrew said it was a powerful moment to see a small business show up and give like that.

“It was also powerful to see a man use only what he had to bless people who have so little. May we all ask ourselves that very question,’what do I have?’, ‘What can I bring to the table to better serve those around me?’

“I am sure the answer would humble us and bless innumerably more.”

Many people have the desire to serve the homeless but don’t know where to begin. Begin with what you have.

What can give to the people around you?

 How Precious is God’s Word

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Despite a rough journey wrestling addiction and even facing jail, Jim* has come to cherish one thing, God’s Word.

A member of Connect, Jim desperately longed for his own Bible.

“His last two Bibles have either been stolen or lost, bringing him to tears each time,” shared Andrew.

One morning, Andrew was able to to gift him a brand new leather-bound Bible.

A donor had brought it in to us less than 24 hours prior.

“He grabbed it from my hands, clutched it victoriously, and all but skipped down the hall,” said Andrew.

Jim came by later to tell Andrew that he and another Burnside staff member, Evan were planning to begin a Bible Study. He was afraid he wouldn’t have a Bible to use.

“I want to thank both the invisible and unnamed volunteer for donating such a precious item,” said Andrew. “And I want to thank Evan for using his position of influence to spread the Good News and explore God’s Holy Word with those who are hungry for it

“I want to encourage each and every one of us to use our roles for the same purpose. No matter our world or realm of influence, may we take firm hold of every opportunity to share the grace and love of God with those around us.”

*named changed for privacy

 Rent Well Grad Now Employed as Supervisor

img_0102-2Each Tuesday afternoon the staff at Burnside offer a Rent Well class to the community—Giving men and women the tools they need to learn how to be a good renter and prepare for permanent housing.

A recent Connect graduate, came by Burnside to share his good news with Rent Well teacher Andrew. “Due to his attendance in the Rent Well class, he has acquired an apartment for himself out in Gresham,” said Andrew. “I asked him how his job was going, to which he responded that he is now a supervisor.

“He claims that what he learned here in the kitchen prepared him for the expectations and responsibilities of being a supervisor there. He was all smiles and gratitude.

 

*Names changed for privacy

What is your story at the Mission? Have you volunteered and seen someone’s life changed? Have you been blessed by giving? Send us your story at [email protected]

Want to read more stories? Check some of our past blog posts: ‘Tales from the Lighthouse’: Generosity, Transformation at the Burnside Shelter and ‘Tales from the Lighthouse’: Stories from the Burnside Shelter.