DECEMBER 2017 UPDATE
It’s been a while since I’ve written a personal update regarding this ministry and my heart, so … this is that update and it will also serve as our annual 2017 update.
Forgive me for the length of this, but I truly want you to know in some detail what is going on inside of RHM.
Honestly, the past six months have been filled with blessings, new pressures and challenges and I’ve been, at times, on my heels trying to keep up with all the amazing work happening in the ministry. Today, looking across the ministry, it’s honestly amazing to me what the Lord has done with just a few open hearts.
What once was just a prayerful walk on the streets has over the years turned into a fairly robust ministry and a sound vehicle for the Lord’s love and grace to go forward from.
Of course we continued with the basics;
Handing out gospel tracts was where this all started, and this year we handed out thousands upon thousands of gospel tracts as we continued our mission to evangelize in the city of Trenton every week. We also handed out hundreds of bibles, both new and used.
Again this year, we collected tons (yes really) of clothing, and donated it to Good Stuff Thrift, a partner that allows us to frequent their stores with any individual that we are ministering to in order to outfit them, and we’ve done that many times this year.
We again handed out crates of sleeping bags, hats, gloves and scarfs, toiletries, solar panel charges and more.
We’ve continued our Bible studies across the city of Trenton, and now we have groups running and studying the Bible everyday accept Friday with total attendance near 60 to 80 a week, depending on the time of the month.
We made new strides in some existing ministry areas;
We’ve spent thousands of dollars, more then ever before, providing emergency shelter to the homeless during the worst of the storms this year and depending on funding, we hope to provide this service into the coming year.
Our work with the city of Trenton has continued, as part of the continuum of care in Mercer County for outreach to the homeless. We are an active member of the CCOT mobile outreach team and along with about 20 other organizations we are involved in the active care for the city’s homeless and addicted. This year, our relationship has deepened and RHM is a leader in this group. We provide solutions and actively seek truth amongst the issues facing the homeless in the City and Mercer County. For instance, we re- organized and led the restructuring of outreach to the homeless, creating a new and more welcoming environment for outreach for major city outreaches; from which we offered our services to the homeless community – Prayer, Counseling, Fellowship and of course, the HOPE and LOVE of Jesus Christ. I find it amazing that a faith based organization can work directly with the City and County while making no compromises in our faith stance. We bring Jesus to the outreaches and meetings we have with the City. This year at a major City outreach, one of our homeless men handed the Mayor of Trenton a Bible. He gladly accepted it as a believer, but I loved that this happened and was influenced by our work with that individual and of course Christ within him.
We participated in the 2017 homeless census and will again participate in 2018 in about 20 or so days, where we will join a state team counting the homeless so the state can receive it’s share of the 5.5 or so billion that the USA spends on support of the homeless each year.
And through Christ we broke new ground as well;
Providing food to the homeless is something we have done since the beginning of this ministry, but this year we provided nearly 4000 meals to the homeless and poor and what’s best is this all occurred at bible studies or church services. So not only did folks get fed, but they heard the Word as well being truly fed in Christ.
This year we’ve sent just over a dozen men and women to various detoxs, rehabs and recovery houses, into vivatrol out-patient programs and we are still praying for their complete healing and restoration.
We are happy to announce that RHM is now working with the Trenton Rescue Mission weekly where we serve meals and mingle with our friends residing there during dinner. We also provide live music during dinner for the 3 seatings they have and then we continue that service by setting up coffee and dessert afterwards where we worship together and provide a sermon where anywhere from 20 to 50 people attend week to week.
In 2017, we created a mobile technology platform called HOMES, at great expense, to help the city and the other 20 or so organizations reach out to the homeless, to share data, and provide transparency; to link services to optimize the help that can be provided and we did not charge for the creation or use of this platform. The HOMES solution was given to the City as a gift as a sign of our commitment to the City to help our friends and family living on the street in Trenton. Trenton is now writing the use of this system into its policies which will help with service provision to the homeless, grant efficiency and performance monitoring. This system provides data like the state has never had for the homeless and creates an interactive eco-system to bring the service providers even closer to homeless hearts on the street. It’s currently in the pilot phase, but we have high hopes. In 2018 we hope to be rolling out our public and homeless side of the solution, that will bring focus to the real problems on the street and give the homeless a voice that can not be ignored.
We were invited to join the Herion & Opiate Task Force for Mercer County, chaired by our friends at City of Angels and we are learning more about this issue in the state and the country monthly because this issue is so real in the homeless community. Within a partnership with City of Angels we’ve sent our first four members of RHM to Drug Addiction counseling training to work on their counselor certification to assist us in serving our homeless hearts well.
Amazingly, we have more hearts serving with us then ever before. RHM has been serving folks on the street for many years and each year we pick up new people that want to serve and join this ministry and mission.
And this year, we started the Mission House;
Starting the mission house is a giant leap for us. We did this because we feel the current housing solutions are inappropriate and ineffective. So we obtained a house, for another RHM pilot program to provide a place of trust and safety, not a recovery house, but a house that is a home to a small set of men (3 to 5) that are focused on advancing their life
together in Christ. One of our staff members will reside at this home as well to provide daily mentoring to the men as they rebuild and are restored in Christ. The beginning of a model we hope to see advance into the future and hope to see it duplicated over and over again.
All of this is incredible to me. There are several dozen people serving in this ministry to help restore those struggling in homelessness to let them know they are loved, by us and by Christ Jesus.
It’s amazing to see what the Lord can do with open hearts… But with all these efforts, we lost many on the street this year.
Just two days ago another man died, his name was Lenny. I’m sure his family still thinks he is alive and sadly, I am sure many will not even notice his absence from this world, but we will. About 2 weeks before, we had the honor to pray with Lenny and we learned of his faith, but personally, I am crushed to see another person die not understanding their true place in Christ’s grace.
We’ve had many friends die this year and seen some walk away from the opportunity to know Christ and many fall back into addiction. We’ve seen some housed, but far more new faces appear. We’ve seen the prostitution spike, drugs get worse and our homeless friends experience beatings, being chased and harassed on a daily basis, by drug dealers, gang members, police and some in the public.
Truly though, it has been a great time of growth for the ministry, and I am proud of the love we are sharing and the work we are doing in Christ’s name, but honestly there are times when I feel lost in the depth of this mission. I am not sure if this is a problem that can be solved, but that isn’t why we do this.
Restoring Hearts seeks to RESTORE HEARTS to Christ. People are hurting on the street in Trenton and our surrounding areas and we must respond to Christ’s call. There is pain and suffering in our communities that cannot be ignored. Humanity demands it, and Christ commanded it. Many, so many, do not understand who their Savior truly is.
And as long as we can, we will respond to this call to spread the Gospel in the City of Trenton and continue to reflect the mission of Christ with those struggling in homelessness, addiction and the under served. We will continue to push the City of Trenton and the other organizations to up their game and we do surely push. We will advocate for the homeless and poor, the lost and powerless.
I told you that RHM helps with the homeless census, the count that ensures that NJ gets its appropriate allocation of federal funds for the homeless each year. Maybe you didn’t know this, RHM does not take City, County or State funds and as a policy we will not. We have access to the grant system, but we will not access it. First and foremost we look to protect ourselves from mission drift. We participate with the homeless census for the homeless themselves and for the other organizations that we partner with that do take federal dollars. RHM depends solely on what the Lord provides. Money is a powerful tool, but also a powerful tool for other agendas to come in an pull us away from our main mission, proclaiming Christ’s Gospel. So RHM is totally, 100%, privately funded. Depending on the moving of hearts to help us help others in His name.
Certainly you know you can donate into RHM and that helps us, without you we couldn’t be as effective as each one of these efforts has a cost.
Most importantly we need your prayers.
The truth is, we are walking in the ruins, on a battlefield daily. We are like medics running out into fire and pulling others to safety so we can see them healed. We are pressed and attacked often, we personally battle sadness and loss. There is real sacrifice and real struggle in RHM to keep the joy in our hearts and through that there is real battle-hardened faith in Christ. We never have to wonder if we would survive without Christ, because the lack of Christ working in this ministry for even a day would stop us like a brick wall. Without Christ we are nothing, and without your prayers we could be lost, not eternally of course, but this ministry could fail.
If this seems dramatic to you, I suppose it is, but to see the truth in it, you just need to walk with us for one week and you would experience the battle and the deep need for this ministry and I do personally invite you to do that.
In Christ’s mercy and grace please pray for us. Please know, you are important to us, beloved and adored by us and Christ and your heart for this mission means the world to us. If you donate, thank you, if you pray for RHM, thank you. We truly covet your prayers.
Should you have any questions or thoughts, please feel free to contact me directly.
In His love,
Restoring Hearts Ministries of Trenton firstname.lastname@example.org (609)358-3258