Transformation 360 | February 2015 Newsletter

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As long as Chris Ortega could remember, he’s always wanted to be a high school football coach. He loved the complexity of the game and had an innate passion for inspiring others to push themselves to their very best. But before he could take his first step towards that dream, he was blindsided by a decision at age 16 that would destroy his life.

If not for the support and prayers of friends like you, Chris would have been out of the game – forever.

Chris can trace the moment he lost his footing back to a party he went to when he was 16.

Chris remembers, “Someone was passing out pain killers at the party and I figured ‘why not? I’ll just try a couple.’ But it wasn’t a one-time thing… I didn’t know it yet but I was hooked. After that night my life changed… I lived two separate lives. There was the football group I hung out with at school and there was a completely different group of friends that I did drugs with in secret.”

Chris maintained his image as a drug-free football player for a while, but soon pain killers weren’t enough. At 18 years old, he switched to heroin to boost his high. It wasn’t long after that he lost everything.

“I got behind the wheel one night to go on a joy ride. I was drunk and high when a cop flashed his lights behind me. I panicked… and I ran. I ended up crashing my parent’s car and went to jail. Since it was my first offense I was out the next day… but I couldn’t go home after that… and I didn’t.”

Chris couldn’t hide his addiction anymore and because of it, he couldn’t face his friends and family. For the next 3 years, Chris lived off the generosity of his druggie friends, moving from couch to couch.

“20 to 23 was a blur. Every day I would wake up, get stoned, get high, and then wake up to start it all over again. I hated it… I just couldn’t take it anymore.”

So he made a decision to try and start over. He left Phoenix for Tucson to put distance between him and the source of his drug habit. But when he got there, he found work wasn’t as easy to get as he thought. After a few weeks of job hunting, Chris ran out of funds and ended up homeless and sleeping in a park.

“There was nothing good about my life at that point… I knew I had screwed up and I wanted to die. But then one day a married couple walked by my spot in the park. I asked them for the time and we started talking. They told me about Jesus and how he had a plan for me. Then they asked me point blank, ‘Would I accept Him as my Lord and Savior?’ I thought ‘Why not?’ and told them yes. As soon as I said it, I suddenly I had a weird urge to get up and walk.”

Chris walked out of the park. Then he walked a few more blocks. Then he walked all the way across town to the only person he knew in Tucson who directed him to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. Chris knew he had been led to the Mission for a reason but he didn’t have a way to Phoenix. Trembling, he picked up the phone and, for the first time in years, called his parents to ask for a ride. The next day, he was outside our doors.

“Right away you can feel it when you walk through the gates – there’s definitely the presence of God at the Phoenix Rescue Mission. They gave me a Bible right away, taught me how to read it and you know what? It made sense! Pretty soon I could understand it on my own and I couldn’t put it down!”

Because of friends like you, Chris had a full year to study his Bible, work with our counselors, serve alongside our staff and grow in his newfound relationship with Jesus Christ. Today Chris is a graduate of our recovery program. He’s free from his addictions, employed, living on his own, and best of all, back to working towards his dream! His goal is to become a math teacher and football coach at Central High School and is currently working on a major in math with a minor in education to qualify.

“Trust me, I was the biggest skeptic before I came here. God stuff? That’s all make-believe! But I found out that’s not true. God is very real. It’s because of Him I’m still here, I have hope, and I’m a brand new person today!”

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The Gift of a Smile!

Homelessness and addiction does damage to a person’s body in a lot of different ways. Fortunately, much of it tends to fade away during recovery thanks to ongoing counseling and a steady diet of nutritious food. But one area of the body doesn’t repair itself so easily.

Missing and fractured teeth, severe decay and chronic mouth pain are a common occurrence in the women we serve. Long after recovery is over, the damage done to the teeth remains – and becomes a daily hindrance to our graduates looking to move forward with their new lives.

Fortunately, all that’s about to change for our women at the Changing Lives Center!

A few weeks ago, our women in recovery were asked to attend a presentation from Smiles Beyond The Bars, an organization that helps formerly incarcerated men and women receive sorely needed dental care.

Our women were told prior to the event that one of them had been selected to receive all the dental work they needed absolutely free. Anticipations were high; every woman was wondering who would be the lucky one to receive this once in a lifetime gift.

Then came the announcement that none of them expected – Linda Parker, the founder and president of Smiles Beyond The Bars, told them that every single one of them could look forward to receiving a new smile free of charge!

Shrieks of excitement echoed off the walls of the chapel, women hugged one another and tears started to flow. No longer would they live in constant pain, be self-conscious at interviews and be reminded of their past every time they looked in a mirror.

But that wasn’t the end of the surprises.

Francis Tesmer, a board member of Smiles Beyond The Bars and part owner of Rolf’s Salon, also announced that after their teeth were taken care of, she would be giving each one of them a full makeover at her salon! Again, the shrieks of excitement were deafening.

We want to thank Linda and Francis for blessing our women in this huge way and giving each one of them what they need to smile with confidence and shine to God’s glory!

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We serve a God who loves a long shot.

Don’t believe me? Just look at some of the heroes of Scripture. Moses, Joshua, David, Gideon, Nehemiah, Peter – each one of them nobodies, until God got a hold of them and used their lives to turn the world upside down.

The good news is He’s still doing it today.

Chris is a prime example. A year ago he was miserable, sleeping in a park and ready to die. There was nothing inspiring about him, no one would have figured him for a leader – until God reached out and gave him a reason to live. Today Chris is coaching students in his free time and is well on his way to reaching hundreds more as a living witness to the power and love of Jesus Christ.

What we do here is more than feed the hungry; we produce those who God has selected to change the world. I want to take this moment to thank you for your partnership that makes this vital work possible.

Together, we’re making our world a better place, one life at a time!

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Transformation 360 | October 2014 Newsletter

Transformation 360 | October 2014

Imagine for a second that you’re standing on the pitcher’s mound during a game at Chase Field. It’s the fifth inning, the crowd is cheering, and you take a moment to look around at the almost 360 degrees of faces surrounding you in the bleachers. Do you have a good picture of all those men, women and children filling the stands? If you could count each one of their faces, you would find that it is probably somewhere near 25,992, or the average attendance for a Diamondbacks game. It seems like a huge number of people, but sadly, the crowd you are imagining right now is still a couple thousand short of the number who found themselves homeless last year in Arizona.

On the surface, 27,877* seems like an insurmountable problem. The scriptures quite plainly command us to look after the needs of the poor. But how does anyone begin to serve the needs of tens of thousands of individuals? Actually, the answer is quite simple.

Here at the Phoenix Rescue Mission, hope always begins with a meal.

We call it Feeding Phoenix and it’s our initiative to connect with those in need around us through the simple medium of food.

You see, hunger is one of our most basic needs. We are built in such a way that until that need is met, it’s very difficult to concentrate  on anything else. That’s why so many of our transformation stories begin the way they do:

“I would have missed the opportunity for a second chance if it weren’t for that first meal at the Mission….” – Richard, Recovery Program Graduate

“If I had never come looking for a meal, I’d still be stuck. Now I have friends and brothers in Christ…” – Alfredo, Recovery Program Graduate

“After the meal I found what I really needed – a chance to start over…” – John, Mission Resident

From the 2,500 food boxes we distribute to the working poor and elderly every month, to the 1,216 sack lunches distributed by the Hope Coach every week, to the 948 hot meals we serve every day, each touch provides a gateway to a new relationship with Jesus Christ and the first step on the path to a transformed life.

Doug, who has volunteered on the food line for more than five years, constantly recognizes the effect a simple meal has on the people he serves. He tells us, “I see changes almost every week in the people that come through my line… the transformation they go through is amazing!”

With the holiday season fast approaching, we will soon have more opportunities than any other time of the year to touch lives. We need your help to make sure none of these precious opportunities are missed!

Volunteer with us to Feed Phoenix. Breakfast servers are needed immediately and other opportunities to help change lives are added weekly.
Signing up is as easy as visiting phoenixrescuemission.org/act and filling out a volunteer application

Of course, you can also help by giving a financial gift and provide the ingredients that produce hope in so many here at the Mission. A complete meal at the Phoenix Rescue Mission costs just $1.92. Your support between now and Thanksgiving will help provide 78,000 community meals in our dining room alone!

Thank you so much for the volunteer hours and the financial partnership that continues to give countless men, women and children a chance at a new future – through the gift of a simple meal. May God bless you richly!

*“Homelessness  In Arizona Annual Report.” DES Reports – Arizona Department  of Economic Security – Homelessness  In Arizona Annual Report. Department of Economic Security, 31 Dec. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. https://www.azdes.gov/InternetFiles/ Reports/pdf/des_annual_homeless_report_2013.pdf.

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Homelessness is a complicated issue. Many of the stories we share highlight a lifecontrolling addiction as the cause of homelessness. But that is only part of the equation. In fact, over 42 percent of those who experience homelessness for the first time in Arizona do so because of job loss, foreclosure or eviction.

Just 10 short months ago, Steven had a steady job as a security guard and a nice apartment. He enjoyed spending his free time with his two dogs in a local park not far from his home. At the time, David never imagined that dog park would soon become his permanent residence.

Steven explains, “They cut my hours at work in November. It wasn’t ideal but I could still pay rent. Then came another even more drastic cut in January. I tried my best to find another position somewhere but I ran out of time. Before I knew it I had lost everything.”

Taking his two dogs he left his apartment complex and set up his new home at the only place he knew he could afford; the local dog park.

Steven remembers, “People who visited the park were nice to me, some would bring me food, one couple even brought me some blankets. But the real difference came when I learned about the Phoenix Rescue Mission.”

After 5 days of living without shelter, a city sanitation worker noticed Steven and gave him the number to the Mission. Before long, Cliff Danley and the Hope Coach arrived to pick him up and help put him back on his feet.

Steven tells us, “This place has been a Godsend. When they started the new Job Readiness program I was one of the first to sign up. Right away I was given access to a computer and instruction on how to redo my resume. I had more interviews in the week following that first class than I had in the six months I had been applying on my own!”

Today, thanks to the support of friends like you, Steven has a new position at a security company and is saving money for the deposit on a new apartment. He’s also looking forward to reuniting with his dogs that were being fostered by friends he met at the park.

Every year, behind the scenes, there are thousands of men, women and children just like Steven whose lives are brought back from the brink here at the Mission. Sometimes it’s something as simple as a food box, sometimes it’s something more involved, but no matter what it is, your partnership is what makes the difference in that person’s life. Thank you so much for continuing to bless the lives of those we serve every day.

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During the holiday season, Phoenix Rescue Mission delivers 500 holiday food boxes to families who would otherwise go without. You can help give a family hope this Thanksgiving. Simply fill a box with non-perishable items to make a Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings!

It’s Easy to Participate!

  1. Determine the number of families you or your group wish to feed. (One food box feeds a family of four.)
  2. Use your own medium-sized box.
  3. Fill each box with the menu items listed below (no glass jars, please):
    Instant Potatoes | Cranberry Sauce
    Stuffing Mix | Corn Bread Mix
    Gravy | Cake Mix
    Canned Fruit | Canned Pie Filling
    Canned Yams | Canned Goods to Fill Box
    Canned Vegetables
  4. Purchase a $15 grocery store gift card to be used by Phoenix Rescue Mission to purchase a frozen turkey. DO NOT PUT GIFT CARD IN BOX. Hand to PRM staff upon delivery.
  5. Be creative! Add seasonal paper plates, napkins, favors or decorations (no candles, please). Homemade items are especially welcome!
  6. Close the box by overlapping the flaps. Please do not tape shut.
  7. Return filled box between Monday, November 17th and Friday, November 21st to PRM Donation Warehouse, 1468 N. 26th Ave., Phoenix 85009. Warehouse is open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Mission can pick up large donations of 50 boxes or more.

For more information on the Fill-A-Box project or hosting a canned food drive, contact the Volunteer Hotline at 602-346-3363, or prm@phoenixrescuemission.org.

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Feeding Phoenix - Donate Now

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Feeding Phoenix is the heart of what we do here at the Mission. I wholeheartedly believe that if for some reason our meal services went missing, it wouldn’t take long for the rest of our ministry to follow suit. The promise of hot meals are a huge draw to many homeless who would not otherwise seek out our services. The food boxes we give out to families and deliver to elderly shut-ins is a band-aid that lets us address more serious wounds. Meal services get our community involved and exposed to the issue of homelessness firsthand. But most of all, food is important because of the life-change that it makes possible.

We know that people we serve have needs beyond just a meal. That’s why we created “Feeding Phoenix, More Than Just a Meal” to shed light on our other services. Like we explained in the cover story, a hungry person won’t hear the message of salvation. Deal with that rumbling in their stomachs, and they will.

Thank you so much for the support that continues to nourish bodies and souls here at the Mission every day. Together, by God’s grace, we are changing lives and eternal destinations one meal at a time.

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Once he needed a hand, now helping others “get back on their feet”

Letter from a supporter to Jay Cory:

It is good hearing from the Phoenix Rescue Mission! I do have a total of 6 charities I donate to during the year, and of course the Phoenix Rescue Mission is always on my list and always will be since the year 2000. This is the year I found your Mission and your wonderful crew helped me get back on my feet. I will never forget the Mission and how it changed me. It motivated me to get up and help the people in my neighborhood instead of asking them to help me. It worked, Jay! For the last 14 years, I have made it in the corporate worlds and I am self sufficient. I help others by donating money and clothing, along with other things like bottled water.

Enclosed is a donation for your cause. Please use it for your current needs and I will make another donation around Christmas time to again help all of the homeless vets and others staying at your Mission. You teach well, and help so many people. It makes me so humble as I wish I could give more and soon will as each year goes on.

Sincerely,
Joe C.

Phoenix Rescue Mission: Thank you Joe! We love hearing from those who once use the Mission’s services to regain their sense of purpose and are now giving back! May God continue to Bless You.

Lindsey’s Birthday Gift to the Mission!

Lindsey and FriendsDear Phoenix Rescue Mission,

My daughter Lindsey just celebrated her 8th birthday on May 31st, and it was truly one we’ll never forget. I’ll tell you why. Way back in January, after coming home from work one day, Lindsey started to tell me what she wanted to do for her birthday. I responded with the typical ‘yes, of course,’ knowing that we had many months to decide.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the invitation that she’d already written in pencil in her notebook…

Please come to Lindsey’s birthday party.  We are going to help the homeless.  We will drive around to look for people that need help. We will give them food, water, and money to use wisely.  Don’t worry about bringing money – I am saving up my allowance for that.  If you want to bring some water or food, that is great.

Lindsey completely melted my heart with her birthday idea.

My next thought was, ‘how can I find an activity to support what she wants to do in a way that is practical and safe?’ Talking with friends, family and co-workers, we discussed ideas including volunteering at a food pantry or serving meals to the homeless. Her age however was our biggest stumbling block.  Even with parental permission and supervision, we found there’s typically an age requirement to volunteer.

Thank goodness I contacted the Phoenix Rescue Mission. While speaking to one of their volunteer coordinators, I explained what my daughter wanted to do and what her age was, and we both came to the conclusion of putting together Hope Totes!

Fast forward to May, and Lindsey’s birthday was just weeks away. I downloaded the Hope Totes flyer from the Mission’s website, and included it in the birthday invitations, along with a note to the parents about what we were doing and why.

Then the collection of items for the Hope Totes began! Through shopping and donations from family and friends, we started growing a huge stockpile of shampoos, conditioners, soaps, shower gels, deodorants, shaving supplies, and more. The generosity we saw was overwhelming.

On the last day of school, Lindsey invited 3 friends over, and we spread out the Hope Tote supplies all over our living room.  The girls really had fun sorting out the items into piles.  Piles of shampoo, piles of conditioner, piles of soap and body wash, piles of deodorant, piles of sunscreen, piles of chapstick, piles of granola bars and more.  They then passed around a Ziploc bag, and each girl added one item to the bag, and finally put in a special note and sealed it up.  Once all of the bags were filled, we packed the Hope Totes into a box in the car along with some cases of bottled water, and we hit the road! 

At the Mission warehouse, we were greeted so warmly. The warehouse coordinator, Wes, asked us if we were bringing him some Hope Totes, and when we said ‘yes,’ he asked whose idea it was.  Lindsey shyly put her head down and pointed to herself.  Amazed, Wes told her what an awesome thing she was doing and how most adults don’t even bring him supplies like this!  He also said that she was helping a lot of people who would really appreciate it.  We then saw the Hope Coach van that delivers the Hope Totes to the homeless on the streets! We took a photo in front of the Hope Coach, and Lindsey and her friends were beaming. What an incredible experience for Lindsey and her friends to help others! We will never forget this special birthday!

 

Code Red 2014

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On May 1, 2014, Phoenix Rescue Mission will be kicking off our 2014 Code Red Campaign. Saving homeless men, women and children from the brutal Arizona summer heat is what Code Red is all about. Last year we were able to reach thousands of people in need, distributing over 425,000 bottles of water, and providing them with food, hygiene kits, shoes and other essentials. Code Red was literally a lifeline for so many who must call the streets home.

Arizona Gives Day 2014!

AZ_GD_2014_Logo_F_RGBLending a caring hand. Offering prayer and a kind word of encouragement. Providing a meal and a warm bed. Rebuilding and restoring lives.

This is what we do at Phoenix Rescue Mission and why we’re here. Every day we help hundreds of hungry and hurting men, women and children in our community.

Now, we have a great opportunity to reach even more — through Arizona Gives Day!

On April 9th, 2014, Arizonans and Arizona nonprofits will come together to promote and support the incredible causes that help make our state better. Last year Arizonans donated nearly $1 million dollars to over 800 participating nonprofits, including Phoenix Rescue Mission.girleating

This year we’ll be in the running for an additional $18,000 gift just by having the most donors among the participating nonprofits this year! Won’t you help?

Almost HomeYour donations will help us to continue raising awareness about the needs of Arizona’s homeless, and to provide food, shelter, clothing, and life-transforming programs to even more who come through our doors.

A gift of as little as $10 can provide 5 meals to hungry men, women and children. We are counting on you!

1) Go to www.azgives.org
2) Type Phoenix Rescue Mission in the ‘Find a Cause’ box
3) Click the Donate button
4) Select your gift level and click Donate Now

Promotion Toolkit!

Email_Template_FamilyOur Promotion Toolkit has all of the items you need to help spread the word about Arizona Gives Day.

Click here for posters, flyers and digital banners.

Click here for our email template.  Click here for sample Facebook/Twitter messages you can use.

Thank you in advance for being a friend and partner to Phoenix Rescue Mission and for helping those in need in our community!
Learn more at: www.azgives.org

 

Testimony Tuesday!

Hope Coach - Julie PatrickAt Phoenix Rescue Mission, we couldn’t do all that we do without the dedication and passion of our many volunteers who give their time, talents and treasures. With all that they give, it’s always amazing to hear how much they get back from serving others. Here is a perfect example – a testimonial from Julie Patrick.

For long-time Phoenix Rescue Mission volunteer Julie Patrick, riding on the Hope Coach mobile outreach van to help the homeless men and women she saw on the streets was a completely different experience.

Patrick and her colleagues at Greystar Real Estate Partners in Phoenix know the Mission well. They have volunteered over the years in countless ways including serving meals at the men’s shelter, coordinating sock drives, sponsoring needy families at Christmas, and participating in last year’s Code Red heat relief campaign, where over 450,000 bottles of water were collected across the Valley. She’s even taken advantage of the Mission’s new social enterprise, Mission Cookies, by ordering dozens of boxes for her real estate clients.

“My passion has always been about helping charities. Volunteering on the Hope Coach made a huge impact on all of us,” she says.

Patrick read about our Hope Coach outreach program through the Mission’s monthly newsletter, and knew she wanted to get involved. When the day finally came, Patrick, together with some colleagues and friends, set out on the Hope Coach, led by Chaplain Cliff Danley.

“Soon after we started out, we came across some guys who looked like they could use our help. They wanted blankets and sleeping bags. One of them was with his girlfriend who also needed a blanket. We didn’t have any in the van right then, but knew we could get some. We told them we’d be coming right back, but they seemed doubtful.

After a quick dash to the store, we came out with blankets in hand and set out again to find them. We drove to the same spot but they were gone, and it took some circling around to finally catch up with them. When I jumped out of the van with the blankets and sleeping bags, they were completely surprised and were so grateful. The girlfriend was especially thrilled to get a blanket with flowers on it. That was really special.

They were just some of the many people we helped that day. Our experience on the Hope Coach was amazing. I’m ready to go out every month now.”

Click here to learn more about our Hope Coach program, and to volunteer.

We Want to do Something for You!

Estate Planning2A will or trust can remind your loved ones of your basic beliefs and commitments. Planning today can ensure that your future desires are fulfilled and provide you peace of mind. But what’s the best way to start?

To help answer this question and more, Phoenix Rescue Mission is pleased to invite you to a free, 90-minute Estate Planning Workshop to learn more about the importance of a will or trust in planning for the future. You can download our flyer here

Each workshop will be led by Troy McNemar, an attorney and Certified Specialist in Estate and Trust law, practicing in Arizona since 1991. Troy has a heart for our community, and you will enjoy his relaxed and insightful presentation with time for questions and discussion.

For your convenience, we’re offering our workshops on three separate dates: March 6th, 11th, and 20th.

We’re pleased to co-host with the following organizations: St. Mary’s Foodbank, Habitat for Humanity Central AZ and Desert Botanical Garden.

Reservations are required, so be sure to reserve your spot today! Contact Joyce Melter at: joyce@habitatcaz.org or 602-262-8661

Testimony Tuesday!

BikeA few weeks ago on a Saturday, a gentleman visited the warehouse looking for a sleeping bag. This was, of course, one of the rare days when we didn’t have one.  As usual, I had to remind myself, there on the spot, that God will present a solution if I stay out of His way. I said a silent prayer that this man would receive what God had sent him here for, whatever it might be. He asked to use my phone for a call to a relative to have some money wired to Western Union to go and purchase the sleeping bag and some bike supplies.

His only transportation was a well-used, but durable mountain bike that he obviously knew how to take care of. He said he was leaving town to go back to his family and see if his wife would take him back. He had gotten the bike as “payment” from a Phoenix relative and said it was only time he had received work compensation from him that wasn’t in drugs. He had accepted the bike and ran. He said he wanted to ride back to Illinois! He wanted to use the time to reconnect with God get into better shape.

As he waited for a return call, he shared some of his recent struggles. He had moved out here from Illinois with his wife and 2 children, with the hopes of landing a job with this relative who promised solid work in his new company. As this man explained it, the business was not as advertised and the four of them shared a house with this relative who seemed to spend more time selling and doing drugs than working. The man admitted that he had fallen into drug use as well over the next few months. When the wife had had enough, she took the kids and moved back home, while my visitor stayed in this unhealthy situation, determined to “make it work” in Phoenix. He slowly realized this was not going to happen and left.

Soon a regular donor, a couple, pulled in with a few boxes of diapers and some cases of water. Somehow the conversation lead back to the biker and introductions and handshakes were exchanged. The man relayed some portion of his story and the couple assured him that he would be in their prayers. They left and we continued our discussion about the way God might use this trip to show him the value and direction of his life. A few minutes later the couple returned, saying they felt that something was left undone. They asked how much a bus ticket would be to get him home. He refused saying he needed time before getting home. The couple then asked us to wait while they drove to Wal-Mart and purchased a sleeping bag. They also returned with the bike repair items that the man had been looking for! Even though, they had not even been present for that part of the conversation.

Was this man telling us the truth? Was he really going to travel across half of the country on a bike? To me, that’s not the point. The point is God showed up. He used the hearts of His children to show what it means to extend a hand and trust Him in all things. To move forward, be His hands and feet, and let Him do the “heavy lifting”. This man bore witness to God moving and working for his benefit, regardless of his original motivation. All of these little blessings coming together to prove to four people on a Saturday morning, that He is there with us. Even when there is doubt.  Especially when there is doubt.

Testimony Tuesday!

MarkWe’re always amazed by the notes and letters we receive from our Mission clients. Here, Mark shares the difference that Phoenix Rescue Mission is making in his life.

“Being homeless for several years, I found that the Phoenix Rescue Mission is indeed an oasis in the desert. In addition to providing a safe place to sleep and incredibly wonderful food, the Mission also provides a link to Christian values and morals that are the basis of man caring for his fellow man.”