Craig Morgan had a hit song out a few years ago that rocked me to my core when I first heard it. It was about a homeless man, nearly frozen to death in the winter streets, when he was gently nudged by a passer by. He was angry that someone woke him to check on him because he was "almost home". Brilliant songwriting, yet heartwrenching content. Here's a lyrical video of Craig singing it. I highly recommend listening!
So, when I visited the Nashville Rescue Mission this week, this song was so heavy on my mind. I always thought of the Mission as a place for someone to get shelter from the cold and an occasional hot meal. I've always had a big heart for the homeless. I grew up with a lot of instability and I know how easy it is to end up there. So many of us are one paycheck away from such a fate.
I've done a lot of personal serving, in my own way, to help over the years. I've worked with a group of volunteers on Thanksgiving, called Gobble Gobble Give, to go and deliver hot meals to those in hotels known to house the homeless and to those living on the streets. I've also been known to make up numerous lunch bags on my own to go and deliver on hot summer days. When I lived in Murfreesboro, I helped my friend, Candy Carter's non-profit Last Call For Grace, deliver meals to the homeless by gathering excess food from restaurants and grocery stores.
I was absolutely AMAZED to learn that the Nashville Rescue Mission is soooooo much more than that! They serve our homeless in a wide variety of ways in an effort to restore them back to health, wholeness, and to reintegrate them gently back into society.
They have different levels of accommodations, based on a resident's desire and readiness to grow, that start with group bunks and graduate up to dorm-like rooms with televisions and computers. I loved visiting the Chapel, where they hold Sunday services and all kinds of events to bring healing to those in their care.
They have counselors on-site that help them fill out government applications, help them with resumes, help them with interview and job skills. They offer support, both mental and physical, and will even come and pick someone up from a different state if they are serious about getting back on their feet.
The people running the Mission have such a heart for these souls and go out of their way to help them. There is a large wall upstairs that displays all of the graduates of their program and they even have a wonderful graduation ceremony to celebrate!
The human spirit, no matter how lost or broken, can always be restored with some love and with help from others. The key is the person must be willing. When I asked why we still had so many on the streets when this kind of help is readily available, the answer was that many choose to be out there or don't want to go through the steps necessary to restore their lives. They see being on the streets as a form of freedom.
I learned so much and I want to make sure everyone knows that the Mission is ready and able to help anyone who is willing and ready to heal and get back on their feet. I was moved by the testimony of a man about to graduate after a life of addiction and darkness. His parting words were "There is always hope. Never give up."