2019 October Letter

“The only thing on my mind was that I needed to keep my family off the streets.”

James and Shauna were living paycheck to paycheck when they both lost their jobs and ended up homeless. James slept on the streets while Shauna relied on the compassion of friends and family to keep her and her kids off the streets.

My dad was a “self-made man,” a successful business owner, so I grew up financially secure. My life’s goal and pursuit was to follow in his footsteps and take over Dad’s business. I was not at all interested in God and my life was honestly very self-centered and material. When the savings and loan crisis of 1986 hit, everything fell out from under our feet and the world I had known completely shattered. 

My parents split up soon after and I fell into a lifestyle of partying to cope with everything that was going on around me. My mom was crushed and turned to Jesus and found hope. As any loving mom would, she continually pursued me, begging me to go to church with her. 

I finally decided to go and God moved in my heart and immediately began a work of transformation that would completely alter the trajectory of my life. 

God is the only one who can truly transform a life and I have been so blessed to witness countless transformations that have only been possible because of Him. 

Many of the people who come to Gospel Rescue Mission have been through homeless rehabilitation programs before… maybe even multiple times, all to no avail. We are often their last hope as their lives are spiraling out of control. 

But if we’re honest, stumbling and falling at the feet of Jesus is a common thread in most of our stories. God relentlessly pursued us, maybe even for years before we gave our lives over to Him. And though we may not have ended up on the streets, He saved our lives and continues to save us from ourselves every single day, far more than we’ll ever be able to understand. 

We don’t give up on people because they continue to fall, we sit with them, lift their heads, pray with them and teach them the ways of Jesus. 

James and Shauna are a married couple that recently found Gospel Rescue Mission. They both lost their jobs and their car within a matter of months. They were struggling to provide basic essentials for their three kids, even with cutting back on monthly expenses. James’s job began cutting his hours and that forced them out of their home and into nightly stays at motel rooms. 

“We’d spend a day figuring out where we were going to go, what we were going to eat, where to wash our clothes, how we were going to make it from one place to another, and then have to do it all over again. It was just surviving on a day-to-day basis.” 

In three months, their savings ran out. A relative agreed to house the children at night but there was no room for James or Shauna. Shauna eventually found a place to stay with a friend but James landed on the streets, sleeping in parks. Every day that passed he became more and more angry and frustrated with God. 

He did everything he could to provide for his family with the small side jobs he was able to secure, but he just could not seem to come up above the water and get back the stability they had once enjoyed. 

“The only thing on my mind was that I needed to keep my family off the streets in this heat” 

Two months ago, by the grace of God, James saw a news report about the Center of Opportunity. He immediately rounded up his family and came to the Mission, broken and desperate but glad to finally be together again. 

“This place gave me time,” James says. “It gave me a roof over my head and a place where I could concentrate on getting a job. That’s exactly what I needed.” 

Through our help, resources, and God’s faithfulness, Shauna was able to find a good job and they were able to apply for affordable housing. They are able to attend chapel services together and it’s clear to everyone who sees them that God is working in their hearts to transform them and make them whole again. 

“God has been good. I lost my relationship with Him for a long time. But, being here allowed me the space to think, not having to worry about where I was going to sleep or eat that day; I could get back to being able to hear His message. I found Him again here — and since then, everything has been falling back into place.” 

This is the kind of transformation I hope you’ll invest in once again today, especially because so many families like James and Shauna’s will be broken, struggling and hungry this Thanksgiving. Your gift today will help us prepare Holiday Banquets and provide needed help and hope. 

It only takes $2.05 to provide a hearty holiday meal for a hungry child or adult. A family like James and Shauna’s can be fed for as little as $10.25. The gift you give will open the door to much more than just a meal … You’ll connect that family with all of our life-changing, transformational programs. 

Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and your immediate response will allow us to expand this wonderful outreach to hundreds of people who are struggling to find hope and solace. Because we are blessed with the new Center of Opportunity, we are able to serve thousands more people this year in a much more comfortable and welcoming environment. This is more than just a meal; we offer them practical help to end homelessness as well as lasting hope that comes from a relationship with Jesus. 

Thank you in advance! And I pray on Thanksgiving Day, as you celebrate God’s blessings, you’ll have the joy of knowing that you’ve done what you could to feed the hungry in our community — and give them an Opportunity for Transformation! 

Thanking God for you, 

Lisa Chastain Executive Director 

P.S. Please be as generous as possible — because the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit lets you donate essentially for FREE: You can give up to $400 if you file singly, or $800 filing jointly, and get a dollar-for-dollar credit — not a deduction — on your 2019 taxes. (There’s more information on the enclosed page.) Thank you again!