But for the grace of God go I…
I have recently returned from a mission trip, where I had an eye opening experience working in a homeless shelter. The Nashville Rescue Mission is a bright light in a mass of unseen people. Country music stars are the focus in Music City, but there is a forgotten or ignored group of humanity that makes its way to 639 Lafayette Street in Nashville, Tennessee every day.
The Nashville Rescue Mission serves three hot meals a day and with those meals come hope. There is a program to get the homeless off the streets, teach them a trade and get them jobs. They give people a chance to get free of addiction, free of their past and become free to go boldly into their futures.
We met a man named John who was a graduate of the program. Addicted to meth, he started in October of last year and is now working at the mission. He is keeper of the keys to the building- a former three story Sears building. Through tears and halted speech, John told us his story. He had been in and out of many other programs. The difference is that the Nashville Rescue Mission has Jesus as the central focus of rehabilitation. Strength from God, not from oneself to get clean and sober.
The Monday evening my group worked in the kitchen, I volunteered to peel sweet potatoes. The vegetable peelers we were given to use -well, let’s just say they weren’t that great. A box of new Farber ware vegetable peelers will be mailed this week.
After we finished kp duty, we made our way to the chapel and had church with the men. I was struck with an image that has not left my mind a week later. You see, not everyone who ate a meal that evening was going through the program, where they would have a clean bed to sleep in and be able to shower everyday and to have three hot meals a day and get an opportunity for a better future.
Some men, for whatever reason, choose to not go through the program.
As the men trickled into the chapel, it became apparent which ones would be staying at the shelter and which ones would be going back to sleep on the streets. Their plastic bags were set at their feet, as they listened to the scripture readings and testimony, the hymns, the prayers. Inside those plastic bags were a clean blanket and set of clothes.
My prayer is that one night in chapel those men will hear God’s whisper and instead of settling for the plastic bag and the night air that they would want a right and noble thing. A true relationship with Jesus, a hope and a future.
May God continue to bless the Nashville Rescue Mission. They are run completely on private donations. If you would like to donate their address is: 639 Lafayette Street, Nashville, TN 37203 or nashvillerescuemission.org.
Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.