Celebrate! Why We Make a Joyful Noise

Dear Friend,

Years ago, a mom and her little girl arrived at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, in desperate need of shelter. The moment the girl said, “It’s my fifth birthday today,” was heartbreaking — heartbreaking that she was spending her birthday in a homeless shelter. The next day, our staff threw a big party, with cake and gifts, the works. Her mom said it was the best birthday her daughter ever had. That has stuck with me. We know those who come through our doors were created in God’s image, having value and a purpose. That’s why we celebrate birthdays at MRM. But our celebrating doesn’t end there!

We find hope around every corner here, evidence of God’s work in the lives of men, women and children who come through our doors looking for a fresh start. We find new life in every room, people whose lives have been transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. We find growth and achievement, as those who come to MRM work hard to accomplish the goals and objectives of the programs you help make possible … goals that represent giant steps toward restoration.

In this issue of Transformed, you can read about Robert, who hit rock bottom and lost all self-worth before coming to MRM and finding a fresh start and new life. On page 6, you’ll meet Heaven, a teen girl who was devastated by the death of her father, but found peace and joy inside our walls.

I hope you’ll be encouraged by these stories and know how grateful we are for your continued compassion for those who turn to MRM for help and a hopeful future!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Jesus Came to Transform Us

Dear Friend,

It’s been said: Jesus didn’t come to fix us, he came to transform us. This profound truth never ceases to amaze me — especially at Eastertime!

What God does through Christ’s life, death and resurrection … it’s so much more than a quick fix. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we all have the hope of new life. No more are broken souls defined by guilt and mistakes of the past. Through the resurrection of Christ, God takes our brokenness and makes us whole — He transforms lives! It is a privilege to share this hope with those we serve, and an honor to partner
with you in this sacred work.

And this life-saving work is so important. As precious men, women and children turn to us for help, the challenges they are facing are certainly tough, even heartbreaking. Sometimes, they’ve made decisions that have led them down a bad path. Very often, these individuals have experienced such trauma and defeat that they feel nearly hopeless. Most who come through our doors share a similar feeling of despair — that life can’t possibly get better.

Even still, we have this hope: that Christ is risen, and has come to give us new life! The beauty we bear witness to when we see people’s lives transformed by the Gospel is powerful beyond words. It’s inspirational! And we are honored to share their stories — like Shaquonna’s on page six and Andre’s on page three — with you, our partners in serving!

Thank you for helping to provide resources to hundreds of struggling neighbors and being a part of the life-changing work going on at MRM. Through God’s grace and because you care for those who are hurting and homeless, our struggling neighbors have opportunity to experience life transformation. Happy Easter!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Looking for Hope in the New Year

Dear Friend,

I love the new year! Whether it’s rung in with celebration or a simple flip of the calendar page, the arrival of January represents a new beginning and a fresh start.

But for hurting men, women and children facing homelessness, hunger and hardship, the new year can be especially difficult. As winter stretches into another month, snowbanks build, the nights grow colder … and the challenges of poverty, addiction, mental health and abuse can seem frozen in place.

For these precious souls, there’s never a good time to be homeless. But this is the time of year when our neighbors most urgently need shelter from winter’s storms — and the storms of life.

At the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, this refuge starts with the safety and warmth of a clean bed and the nourishment of a hot meal. As we meet these basic but critical needs, hearts are comforted … and our guests realize they are safe. Through counseling, education, personal connection and prayer, we help struggling men and women discover and understand the root causes of their homelessness — addressing hardships so they can not only develop the skills needed to overcome them, but to flourish in spite of them.

Most importantly, we share the love of Jesus Christ, the only One who can truly provide a second chance and a fresh start. Broken men overcome addiction and reconcile with loved ones. Women in crisis find renewed hope after escaping abuse and domestic violence. Children see a bright new future, brimming with potential.

Through God’s mercy and through your support, lives are renewed, spirits are revived … and our guests find new beginnings. You’ll see a wonderful example of this in Christina’s story on page 3.

Thank you for your help in making transformation possible for our guests. May God bless you in 2024!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Dear Friend,

It’s Christmastime — “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the classic song reminds us. For many, the season is filled with festive lights and carols, warm-hearted gatherings and holiday cheer. But for most of our guests, their memories of the holidays are not so rosy.

For our neighbors who are struggling, sadly, there are no cozy nights by the fire — rather brutally cold nights on the streets. Many are victims of domestic violence, some struggle with addiction … and still others have lost jobs, housing and all hope.

But there is hope — hope in the humble yet glorious birth of Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save us all from our sins. What a profound joy to share this Gospel message with the precious men, women and children who come to us in need!

Through the beautiful Christmas story, our neighbors in need discover a caring God who invites us to lead lives of hope and change, despite any circumstance of life. His love triumphs over every struggle, every mistake, every heartache — not only bearing the weight of one’s past, but redeeming it and using it for good. And when we share this Good News of the born Savior with those we serve — when we see a glimmer of hope reappear in their weary eyes — truly that is the most wonderful time of the year.

As we prepare a joyous Christmas celebration for our guests, I am so grateful to those who make it all possible. Donors who provide gifts, toys and food; volunteers who help decorate, wrap presents and serve meals; friends who help make every neighbor feel welcome… what a blessing to see so many come together to make the holidays extra special for our guests!

By God’s grace and through your generosity, our guests are able to experience a happy Christmas — some for the very first time — and know the hope of a Savior who loves them. Thank you for your compassionate support. Merry Christmas!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Thanksgiving in the Midst of Suffering

Dear Friend,

I love the story of Thanksgiving. We celebrate the holiday every year, yet many people don’t realize what a fascinating history it has in America — and how meaningful it is to us here at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

The winter before the first Thanksgiving, half the Pilgrims died. The next fall, Governor Bradford proclaimed a celebration of Thanksgiving — in the midst of tremendous suffering! President Lincoln declared a “Day of Thanks” as a national holiday in 1863 — in the middle of the Civil War!

Although many often think of Thanksgiving as a day of turkey and football, it’s really a celebration of hope. And that’s how we observe the holiday at MRM — with great joy and deep thanks because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, even in times of crisis, hardship and suffering. Here at MRM, we celebrate and share this hope with the precious men, women, and children we serve — “[giving] thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)

Through God’s grace and your support, those who are homeless, hungry and hurting have a reason to be thankful when they walk through our doors. As they sit down to a hot Thanksgiving meal at a warm and welcoming table, our guests forget the shame and hurt of their pasts, and realize they have another chance – a chance to experience happiness and wholeness in Christ.

I hope you know how grateful I am for your compassion towards our struggling neighbors! By God’s grace and through your generosity, our hurting neighbors not only find refuge from their hardship when they come to MRM — but also encouragement, hope and a path toward life transformation.

Thank you for being a blessing. Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Who Is My Neighbor?

Dear Friend,

People often ask: What’s your highest priority at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission?

The answer is found in our mission statement: “Sharing God’s love by caring for those who are poor in body, mind and spirit, to see lives transformed through Christ to hope, joy and lasting productivity.” Loving our neighbors is at the heart of who we are and what we do at MRM. We’re driven by Galatians 5:14 (ESV), which says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

This makes me think of the parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke’s Gospel. The Samaritan alone helped a traveler who was robbed and left to die. While others simply walked by, the Samaritan provided care, food and shelter — all for someone he didn’t know.

This is what you help offer here at MRM. Giving of your own resources, you work with us to love our neighbors who are hurting, homeless and hungry. People you don’t even know are benefiting from your kindness — like Patrick, whose story you can read on the next page.

The love experienced by those who come through our doors is tangible, given in grace and truth. No matter our circumstances, we recognize that as sinners we all need the unearned love of our Savior, Jesus Christ — who uses friends like you to transform lives!

I hope you know the extraordinary value of your support. God is working through you to help struggling souls overcome addiction and homelessness, reunite with families and experience lasting change. Precious men, women and children find stability, purpose and hope; broken lives are transformed and made whole.

May God bless you for helping our neighbors!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

We Have a Lot to Celebrate!

Dear Friend,

I have the privilege of seeing first-hand how God is using your support to impact the lives of those who have fallen on hard times — and I can’t thank you enough for your part in providing life-changing care to hurting men, women and children in our community! By God’s grace and through your support, these precious souls not only have new hope … but reason to celebrate the transformation they’ve experienced.

You see, when they first walk through our doors, our struggling neighbors are often seeking basic necessities like a nutritious meal, safe shelter and warm clothing. Once those needs are met, the door is opened to more resources — vital services including counseling, education, job training, addiction recovery support and more. Taken together, these are the steps that can lead to a restored life!

Equipped with renewed health, skills and confidence, men and women in our recovery programs find jobs, housing and new opportunities. Children in need find a bright new future through counseling and education. Above all, our neighbors in need learn about God’s great love for them, and the new life He promises through His Son, Jesus Christ!

In this issue of Transformed, I hope you’ll be encouraged by Jeffery’s story, as well as the stories of others whose lives you’ve impacted through your support.

You’ve given so much reason to celebrate — thank you! — but the need is still great, and there are so many more neighbors struggling in our community. I hope you’ll partner with us once again to see more lives transformed.

Thank you for your continued compassion towards those who turn to MRM for help and a hopeful future!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

The Power of Christ’s Resurrection

Dear Friend,

It’s Eastertime! The days are growing longer, and signs of new life are all around us as we joyfully anticipate the arrival of Spring.

So many of the precious men, women and children who walk through our doors each day are longing for this newness of life. Some have struggled for years. Others have never known this kind of struggle before — hardships like addiction, poverty and domestic abuse — and have nowhere else to turn.

But for these hurting souls, there is hope — hope in the power of Christ’s resurrection, which we celebrate this Easter season. It is in His resurrection that we find God’s perfect solution for the problems we face in our day-to-day lives, as well as the problems facing those we serve every day at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

By God’s grace, restoration begins when hurting neighbors come in off the streets to safety and warm, encouraging care like food, clothing and shelter. It’s amazing to see new hope in the eyes of those who once felt lost — but now are found and cared for as they sit down to a hot meal at a welcoming table.

With their basic needs met, the door is opened to long-term care and healing through MRM’s life-changing programs — where our neighbors in need find education, counseling, job training, spiritual guidance and more to help them renew their lives. It is here that they learn about God’s great love for them. They no longer need to carry the weight of their past — in Christ, they are a new creation! We rejoice over this Gospel truth at Easter, and every day of the year.

With your support, Easter truly becomes a celebration of new life — through the power of Christ’s life, death and triumphant resurrection! And God is working His miraculous, life-saving power through friends like you to do His extraordinary work of transformation here at MRM.

Thank you for your compassion toward those facing homelessness, hunger and hardship in our community. Happy Easter!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Dear Friend,

It’s January in Milwaukee. The warmth of the holidays may have faded, and the winter can seem long and forbidding. But this is when it’s especially important for us to welcome our guests into the Milwaukee Rescue Mission and out of the harsh cold for food, clothing and shelter. Whether our guests are experiencing winter storms or the storms of life — we want them to know that there is hope.

That’s our calling — “caring for those who are poor in body, mind and spirit, to see lives transformed through Christ to hope, joy and lasting productivity.” When precious men, women and children walk through our doors, feeling broken, cold and lonely, that’s when we see transformation begin. As hurting souls are comforted and receive basic needs, they experience the warmth of God’s love — and that’s when they realize the redemption, grace and hope that He offers through His great mercy and faithfulness.

The old hymn reminds us:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided —
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Since 1893, morning by morning, year after year, we have seen God’s mercies transform men, women and children from their darkest experiences, when all seemed hopeless. For most of our guests, transformation is a long road of discipline, education, patience and counseling. In fact, counseling is so important, we place an emphasis on helping our neighbors who are struggling with mental health issues. We recognize that much of addiction and homelessness are driven by deep-seated mental and emotional pain that undermine a person’s ability to handle life’s troubles.

Because of your generosity, our hurting neighbors are getting the help they need to create lasting change in their lives. I am so thankful for your faithfulness! By God’s grace and through your support, the power of the Gospel is transforming the hearts, minds and spirits of those turning to MRM. You’re helping provide real shelter from life’s storms — and I am so grateful!

May God bless you in 2023!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Embracing Hope This Holiday Season

Dear Friend,

I love the holiday season and its glorious reminder of the Gospel, that God sent Jesus into the world to save us all from our sins. It’s also a time of year I reflect on how grateful I am for people like you, who partner with us in this mission to share the good news with those we serve.

The familiar story is so beautiful, and it never gets old!

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” (Matthew 1:20,21)

That message of hope is so needed for everyone. The men, women and children who come to us in the midst of crisis are desperately in search of hope. Maybe the Christmas story is not top of mind for these neighbors — people who are experiencing homelessness, struggling with an addiction or trying to escape violence and abuse. But in the midst of crisis, the thing that we most need is hope.

Christmas reminds us that God’s love triumphs over all circumstances of life — most profoundly over our spiritual impoverishment. This is our hope and the hope of all those we serve, as we point men, women and children to the Savior of the world.

And because we have this hope, despite all the pressures and challenges we face, we can rejoice as we remember and honor Jesus Christ who was born to save us. This season and always, may we all celebrate Christmas in such a grand and gracious way that we point people to the born Savior, our Prince of Peace!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.