The Main Thing – Real love isn’t like a box of chocolates

 

When the world talks about love, you never know what you’re going to get. Especially during the season when chocolates are flying off the shelves, there are plenty of counterfeit ideas contending for the title of real love. If people are nice, if they’re honest, if they’ve done us no harm, if they contribute, if they benefit us, if they’re attractive and fun to be around – these are all reasons the world “loves.” 

Isn’t it a relief that God offers us something so much better? His love, the love He calls us to share, transcends any of these qualities, because it’s unconditional. It’s the love that reaches out to the lost, time and time again, that brings hope and joy to the underprivileged, the same love that picks us up and dusts us off every morning.

It’s the only thing in this world that can take a wounded life and make it new again – and with your help, we’ll share it with thousands more this year. Thank you for the privilege and the partnership, and God bless!

 

 

 

Freezing temperatures and our homeless neighbors

Most people don't associate below-freezing temperatures with Arizona, but the state will be seeing a continuing trend of cold weather over the next few days, according to the National Weather Service.

The homeless population has an increased risk for hypothermia and other cold-related conditions.  This risk is even higher from those who suffer from substance addictions, mental illness, or other physical illnesses.

Homeless service providers and governments have the responsibility to protect their homeless citizens through state- and city-wide winter plans and increased shelter availability. Phoenix Rescue Mission joins these efforts year-round, and has seen an influx of men and women seeking refuse from the cold temperatures.

Cold weather poses a threat to those experiencing homelessness even when temperatures seem mild. Hypothermia can set in when temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Precautions to Reduce the Risks of Hypothermia*

  • Wear hats, mittens, gloves and clothing that create a static layer of warm air, provides a barrier against the wind, and keeps the body dry.
  • Avoid alcohol and other mood- and cognition-altering drugs.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia (e.g., shivering, slurred speech, and drowsiness) that indicate the need to seek shelter and call for help.
  • Keep and carry emergency supplies containing blankets, non-caffeinated fluids, high-energy food, and an extra supply of medications for chronic conditions readily available.

*These precautions are important for both homeless people and those who help them.

Seven hundred people experiencing or at risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States. From the urban streets of our populated cities to the remote back-country of rural America, hypothermia – or subnormal temperature in the body – remains a leading, critical and preventable cause of injury and death among those experiencing homelessness.

Because of support from our community, Phoenix Rescue Mission is able to play a pivotal role providing our homeless and hungry neighbors with support during not only the winter months, but year-round.

The Mission is asking the communities support with the following items:

Any donations can be dropped our at our warehouse at 3440 W. Lewis Ave Monday-Friday 8am-4pm, or at our Transforming Lives Center outside of regular business hours at 1801 S. 35th Avenue.

 

What is Love?

What is love? A difficult question for most people, let alone men and women who have experienced a a fair amount of trauma and abuse. Yet, these men and women are learning what love looks and feels like when God is a part of their lives. Some are early in their journey. Some are deep in their truth of what the Bible says about love. February, and every day, we celebrate God's love for us and how we can walk that out in our own lives by loving like Jesus loves.

"Love is an action. God IS love. God sending his only son to die for us .. is love. Something as simple as a smile can represent love."

Michelle - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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Tom - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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"I didn’t know what love felt like. All I knew was hatred, shame and guilt. I didn’t realize until I came to the Phoenix Rescue Mission and actually received Jesus Christ, my personal Savior, and turned my life over to God, what love feels like. And now its like a feeling in my heart all the time. It’s amazing. I care about myself again, I care about everyone around me. The way the Mission and the staff adopted me as family. That feeling you get, it’s crazy. I don’t have problems anymore. It’s a good feeling."

"Love is selfless, and takes a lot of sacrificing of your own desires."

Tiffany - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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Stephen - graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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"This is a good week to talk about love. When I think of love, I think of 1 Corinthians 13. What is love, what is the picture of God's love for us? Love is patient , love is kind. Love keeps no record of wrongs. It does not boast, it is not envious. And looking at 1 John also, perfect Love casts out fear, if we don’t know God, we don’t know love."

"Past experience with love hasn’t been the greatest, but a lot of that is because I didn’t have a relationship with God. Now that I do, it’s kind of re-learning everything through His eyes, His perspective. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m still learning a lot."

"Love means home. With my kids, it’s home, family, my babies. That’s love to me. Here at the Changing Lives Center, my kids aren't here with me. So I often go to our daycare on campus, and spend time with the kids. I feel an abundance of love there. It’s unconditional. This is my home right now, I feel safe and I feel love from Christ. Love from God is overpowering, just all-consuming, joy, smiling, happiness. It puts me at peace. My relationship with God now is the strongest it’s ever been. I feel God’s Spirit, that’s love."

Michelle - Client at Changing Lives Center

Michelle-Love

Brandon - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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"Love is an unconditional acceptance and a yearning to be with someone or something. Love has no bounds, there are no stipulations as to how I can give it to someone or something."

"This is what I have sought for in love. When I think of love, I think of my mom. She showed me the most love, forgiveness, encouragement and just enjoying the company of others. That’s where I learned what love is. Enjoying and wanting to invest all of yourself regardless of cost."

"Love is to be fully known, yet accepted. Unconditionally."

Sala - Graduate of Phoenix Rescue Mission

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GCU Gives Back for Holidays

Kassandra Elson couldn’t believe she was watching a Grand Canyon University women’s basketball game on Tuesday night. She described her participation in the partnership between the Lopes and the Phoenix Rescue Mission (PRM) as “crazy’’ because less than a year ago she was incarcerated. In her case, the Christian-based PRM is aptly named.

From left, PRM residents Kassandra Elson, Katie Diercks, Courtney Kinnear and Holley Kirk surround PRM Donor Events and Engagement Coordinator Nikki Smith (center).

“I came to Phoenix Rescue Mission from prison,’’ Elson said. “My outlook on life was really hopeless. I just knew that if I didn’t do something immediately that I would end up back in prison, so I came to their Changing Lives Center praying that there would be some kind of hope there for me. Now things are going well. I am a leader on the campus and I am doing things that I never thought I would do.’’

Cheering for the Lopes had never been on Elson’s radar.

“It is crazy to think I am coming to something like this, a GCU basketball game,’’ she said. “This is how I am spending my free time rather than doing things that put me in prison.’’

As fans placed toys into the boxes in the lobby of GCU Arena, Elson reflected on her childhood as the oldest of six children in a low-income family.

Donations of toys and games will be distributed at the Winter Wonderland on Saturday.

“I totally understand. I know that not having that great of a Christmas really affects your life, and you remember that stuff forever,’’ she said. “So the fact there is a toy drive to help people get presents for their children is really great because the children will remember something different than just having a poor Christmas.’’

Along with collecting toys, games and household items for PRM’s Winter Wonderland, GCU and PRM were united by Jesse Dalla Riva, who gave a compelling pregame prayer.

Dalla Riva overcame drug addiction and homelessness through PRM.  He has worked at PRM full-time the past four years while majoring in counseling with an emphasis in substance abuse addiction at GCU.

“I was motivated to give back to the community that I was once part of in that I am addict myself,’’ said Dalla Riva, who plans to graduate in April.

With his wife, Blake, and their 19-month-old son, Jaxson, looking on, Dalla Riva prayed for the students and the athletes, adding, “God, I pray for all of those who are suffering and in need tonight.’’

Jesse Dalla River offered the pre-game prayer as his wife, Blake, and his son, Jaxson, watched from courtside.

“It was a real surprise that they asked me to lead the prayer,’’ he said. “I didn’t expect it and I was really happy to do it because of what this school has meant to me along with the opportunities they offered me and my family. ‘’

The connection between GCU and the Christian-based PRM was further strengthened by a halftime video that shared PRM’s mission. In addition, Nikki Smith, Donor Events and Engagement Coordinator for PRM, urged the GCU community to make donations.

“Unfortunately, a lot of our children have come from traumatic situations,’’ she said. “Some of them are hopeful for Christmas, but others are not. They do not have high expectations for what might be under the tree, so something like this gives them hope. It lets them know that other people care that they matter. It is a joy to change a child’s life and perspective, so it is a big gift.’’

GCU women’s basketball fans Mike Carley and Sue Hunter happily donated toys and dish cloths.

“Anywhere we are we try to make sure we help out,’’ Hunter said. “It is just part of what we do.’’

A GCU women’s basketball fan makes a donation for PRM.

The toys, games and household goods, which will be collected until Thursday, Dec. 13, at Building 71 (contact Sue Boyle) and Building 26 on the main campus, (contact Debbie Accomazzo), will be distributed on Saturday at the Winter Wonderland, where parents can “shop” for their children.

Smith summarized, “Events like this go a long way to giving people hope and helping them to transform their lives.’’