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Thursday, March 29, 2007

NRM: Solution for the Worst Case Scenario

I got fed today on my lunchbreak, and while it involved some fried chicken and salad, I'm talking about a different kind of food. The Nashville Rescue Mission hosted a "Lunch to Learn" today, and not only was I fed lunch, but I got a tour of the facility and participated in a chapel service. I'm full on Christ's love right now, and it ignites a passion within me to eradicate poverty.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt an eagerness to tackle the world's problem with poverty. As a child, my participation in organizations like the Girl Scouts, and especially church activities like GA's, Acteens, and Youth Group, fostered opportunities for service in my community. But it was always the homeless and low-income adults that captured my attention the most. I found great fulfillment in serving food at a soup kitchen, or walking door-to-door in housing projects and delivering care packages. Although I went on many mission trips in high school, where I helped conduct Bible camps for children, I never found great fulfillment in that kind of service.

The tour portion of the "Lunch to Learn" was the most informative and eye-opening. The first hallway of the huge facility was covered with headshots of every man who has successfully graduated from the Nashville Rescue Mission's program. It was so encouraging to see how many lives this organization has affected in a positive way. The NRM is a homeless shelter, addiction recovery center and halfway-home. It also offers educational services, career training, and spiritual counseling.

One of the first comments that were made about the NRM from "Bud," our tour guide, was that the stereotypical perspective of a homeless bum was a lazy black man boozing it up. He said that while this is often true, that poverty doesn't discriminate, and the men and women served by the NRM and its programs are of all races, and come from all different walks of life. Bud said we would be surprised to know how many men came from very wealthy families and good jobs, but got ensnared by the world of addiction.

Walking past through the dorm hallways, Bud told us about how some shelters in the United States seperate their occupants based on race. The NRM doesn't believe in segregating the men because they believe strongly that we are all God's children, regardless of skin color.

We were guided through the recreation room, and I see a game shelf leaning against one wall. Among the chess boards and Balderdash, I see a bright yellow-orange box. It's the "Worst Case Scenario Survival Game" and as I elbow Emily, I see the hilarious irony of this sort of game sitting in a homeless shelter.

Bud led us into another massive, slightly darkened room, where we found a sea of bunk beds. Hundreds of beds. The room was immaculately clean. He mentioned that the residents in the halfway-home program scrub the bunk room each morning, after the overnight occupants leave. Emily made a keen observation that the residents (who were once homeless) are serving the current homeless. It's a very humbling thing to realize, but it goes back to the NRM's mission to show Christ's servant love.

Our tour ended with a chapel service. About 20 men in the program sang "I'll Fly Away" for us, and I couldn't help but sing along. We listened to a man and a woman give their testimony and talk about their struggle with past addictions. Something the woman said struck me deeply. While she was deep into her addiction, she said she felt as if she wasn't good enough for God to do anything with her. It breaks my heart to hear people say things like this, when I know how much Christ gave up, willingly, so that we could have an abundant life in Him. Praise the Lord for organizations like the NRM and the CWJC that boldly proclaim our worth in Christ!

Earlier in the tour, Bud said that the NRM does random drug testing for all of its residents. He said that the last two times they had a mass testing, not a single one of their residents tested positive for drug use. And the next sentence out of his mouth giving glory to God the Father. God is working at the NRM and I was so honored to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse today of this Christ-centric ministry.


Blogger Kristen said...

MA-Another cool organization that does a lot of good (and in your area, too) is Jobs for Life. You can check it out here: http://www.jobsforlife.com/.

11:15 AM


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