I grew up in a Christian home. All my life, I went to church; I read the Scriptures; I sang the hymns; and I looked like a good Christian boy. But it was just a disguise... a lie.
I have never been able to connect with people, not even family. I was always a loner. I never had friends. So, I projected an image as a rebel, the aloof but popular athlete, the nice guy people liked but never knew. I couldn’t let them know, because behind the mask, the “real” me was a slave to pornography and marijuana. I was a disgraced, failed Marine. I was a failed husband and father. I spent years living in homeless shelters or in my car, smoking marijuana every day, isolated and alone. My mind was gone — and no one knew.
I never trusted or got close to anyone. The only things I trusted were porn and weed. And the worse my life got, the more I turned to them.
But in April 2016, I realized I couldn’t live like that anymore. I was unemployed; my car broke down; I couldn’t pay for my phone; I wasn’t bathing — I was broken and I needed help. I cried out to God and He led me to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
I knew if I was going to beat this thing, I needed to learn to connect and trust people. But first I needed to learn to trust God. And that has been the biggest change in my life. Thanks to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, I’m learning to set aside my pride and trust God in everything. Now, because I trust Him, God is slowly transforming my heart. I’m finally free.
Last Easter, I knew everything had changed when one evening I was reminded again of Christ’s resurrection to new life — the same new life I’m living today. In that moment, I knew all heaven was rejoicing, and I cried. I’m alone no more! Your support for the Milwaukee Rescue Mission has helped transform my life. Thank you!
Because of You, Hurting People are Finding Love & Healing This Easter Season.
Over the course of this year, thousands of men, women and
children will come to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission seeking help.Your gifts will provide critical help — meals, clothing and shelter for people experiencing homelessness in Milwaukee.
Beyond satisfying their physical needs, many hurting neighbors will also enter our life-transforming programs. With your support, they’ll receive education, counseling, recovery services, job training and much more.
The Gospel message lives at the core of these transformative programs. That message of the life-transforming love and grace of Jesus Christ brings healing to every precious man, woman or child, no matter their circumstances.
125th Anniversary Celebration
The Milwaukee Rescue Mission will host our annual banquet on Thursday, May 17, 2018, at The Pfister Hotel. Join us to celebrate 125 years of making a difference in our community. An evening of fun, food, fellowship, dining and inspiration will be on the menu! Proceeds from the event will help homeless men, women and children rebuild their lives on a firm foundation.
Event sponsors and gifts-in-kind are needed!
For more information, go to milmission.org/events or call 414-935-0205.
”My home life was pretty crazy as a kid,” says Tenesha. “My mom chose alcohol over being a nurturing mother. But I always found a sense of normalcy at school.”
From grade school on, Tenesha dove into books and homework, and she always made the honor roll. Education was her escape from home — and her hope for a better future. She dreamed of one day becoming a lawyer, but after graduating from high school she had her first child. At first, she tried attending college and raising her daughter, but when the money got tight she had to give up her dream.
In 2015, the bottom dropped out when the father of Tenesha’s children abandoned the family. Her kids started struggling in school, but someone recommended Cross Trainers Academy, where they are now currently enrolled. Her children thrived immediately, and today she sees the same passion for learning in them that she had as a child.
“I love the curriculum and I love the fact that my kids are being challenged academically,” Tenesha says. “I especially love that they’re learning about Jesus and the grace we have in Him. They don’t just worship God in church, but all week long now.”
Tenesha also appreciates how Cross Trainers Academy not only cares about her individual kids, but her entire family as a whole. “My kids never have to worry about whether or not they’ll have school supplies. They’ve even helped my family out with food when we needed it,” she says.
Tenesha also started a new job as a teacher’s assistant at Cross Trainers Academy. “This isn’t just a job to me,” she says. “Working here, I’m learning about God just like my kids. It isn’t just work. I come to serve God and love on all these children. I found my passion again.”
Please pray for:
- Safety, nourishment and hope for homeless men, women and children seeking help at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
- Wisdom and strength for our staff as we minister to our hurting guests in Christ’s name.
- Our donors and volunteers, as they seek to compassionately help those who otherwise might be living on the streets.
- Peace in Milwaukee’s disadvantaged neighborhoods.
- Protection for Milwaukee’s emergency personnel as they protect the most vulnerable in our community.
- God’s guidance and resources as we look to expand programs at our North Campus in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.
- Students and staff at our North Campus as they experience godly and strong academic instruction.
And we want to be praying for YOU!
Please share your own prayer requests here.
Men, women and children struggling with homelessness need hope. It has to start somewhere, and many times, something as simple as a hot, nutritious meal can make such a difference. It’s so simple . . . this Easter season, $2.04 can provide a meal and the chance to transform someone’s life.
Men, women and children who are homeless often live in a world without hope: they may have no food, no bed, no home and no safety; they may struggle with addiction or mental illness; they start to despair. And that is the greatest struggle of all—the hopelessness that life will never get any better.
Among the most powerful words in Scripture are these words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26, NIV).
In other words, Christ’s resurrection offers us hope that death and despair do not have the last word — not only for men, women and children who are homeless, but for ALL of us. It is the cross that reminds us that the world isn’t divided between those who are blessed and those who aren’t. Apart from the cross, we are all hopeless, living in darkness and despair.
At Easter, we celebrate because, in the end, there is no “us” and “them.” We are all just sinners who need the forgiveness that Jesus offers through His death and resurrection. You, me and every hurting, homeless man, woman and child — we’re all in this together, brothers and sisters knit together as the family of God.
This is the amazing story of Easter. This is the story we tell 24/7, 365 days a year. And as our partner, you tell it too.
I hope you enjoy reading Michael’s and Tenesha’s stories in this issue of Soup for Your Soul. Although the details of their stories may differ from yours or mine, we all share this — Christ died that we might have life and hope!
I thank God for you,
Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.