The Harbor: A Devotion of Restoration

Men praying outside The Harbor

Bob Rapp started serving at Portland Rescue Mission as a volunteer in 1995. Every  Friday morning he taught in the men’s long-term program at Burnside Shelter. He served as a volunteer for four years and in 1999 he was hired as the chaplain for men’s long term recovery. For over 20 years, Bob has been serving men and guiding them toward new life. We are grateful for his heart and compassion. Today he guides us through the history of The Harbor and reminds us how the true gift of Christmas is reconciliation and hope for a new future.

New Beginnings for the Broken

Portland Rescue Mission, founded in 1949, has been a source of hope and restoration for men who are struggling in addiction and homelessness. In its 70 year history, Portland Rescue Mission has seen a lot of changes. 

For several decades the men’s long-term program and our homeless outreach services shared space at our Burnside Shelter downtown.

Then in 1999, we acquired the property that would one day become The Harbor.  Originally built as a senior care center, it was a shipwrecked building.

The deteriorated exterior of The Harbor before it was restored.
The leaky interior of The Harbor before it was restored.

Building Hope and Rebuilding Lives

With some basic repairs and refurbishing, we dedicated the building Fall of 1999.  And for over a decade it functioned as our transitional facility for men.

But it was underused. As Portland Rescue Mission needed more space for homeless outreach services at Burnside we decided to move the men’s long-term program to Northeast Portland, a better location for recovery.

But, truth be told, the facility itself needed a one-year restoration program so it could function long-term at full capacity of 40 men.

The Harbor, a recovery program for men in Portland before it was restored.

About 8 years ago, The Home Builders Association and Home Builders Foundation adopted our property as its annual project.  The building had a complete bottom to top restoration involving hundreds of volunteer hours and thousands of dollars in donations of money and materials.  

The theme:  “Building hope and homes, rebuilding lives.”

The building was rededicated and named The Harbor on June 13, 2013.  And it’s now living out its purpose as the location for God to transform men. 

This building, once in disrepair, now is a restored place of safety in Northeast Portland. 

Here men take many difficult steps of faith with great courage during the year supported by many people – staff, volunteers, family, and people in the community.

It has now been 20 years that The Harbor first began its new life sheltering and offering hope and life change to men in Portland Rescue Mission’s long-term recovery program. 

The new courtyard of Portland Rescue Mission's The Harbor, a recovery program for men

From Shipwrecked to New Life

Run aground on addiction, despair, and hopelessness men who come into The Harbor program are worn out and broken, afraid that they are stuck in life.  

In Restoration Ministry at The Harbor men experience healing and growth as they navigate the different phases of the program- Discovery, Truth, Acceptance, Freedom, and Purpose – over about a year.

“Shipwrecked, Safety, Sent Out,” is an abbreviated summary of the process.

Broken men are given a safe place for recovery and then sent out with a solid foundation for life, including a relationship with God and people.

 I think of, Tom*,  a 26-year-old man who recently entered the Truth phase.  A few Saturdays ago, Tom spent a couple of hours with his daughter (8) and son (6), enjoying time with them at the Lloyd Center.  With support from community and staff, Tom hopes for much more over time including a likely long, challenging, and blessed process of family reconciliation. 

The new halls of Portland Rescue Mission's The Harbor after restoration.
Portland Rescue Mission's The Harbor, a long term recovery site for men struggling with homelessness and addiction.

A Mission of Reconciliation

Which reminds me, this Christmas season, of Jesus Christ.  He came from Heaven to be born on Earth with the mission to save people and bring us reconciliation with God.  

Jesus said:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,

for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,

that the blind will see,

that the oppressed will be set free,

and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come. (Luke 4:18-19 NLT)

We are filled with joy to serve our city and thankful to the wonderful people who enable us to work as hands and feet of Jesus.

It is with great joy that we participate in His hope, salvation, and restoration, nurturing transformed lives as they grow in Christian maturity at The Harbor – restored to be a place of warmth, light, and joy!

May God Bless You this Holiday Season!

*name changed

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