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.

Giving Thanks in Challenging Times

Dear Friend,

I always look forward to the fall — a beautiful season of falling leaves, changing colors and thoughtful reflection. At times, the past two and half years have felt like one big season of challenges, full of endless twists and turns. Yet, despite the challenges, I am thankful.

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I’m reminded that the entire history of Thanksgiving in our country was born out of — and celebrated in spite of — troubles and grief. From the Pilgrims in 1621 to the Civil War in 1863 to just before World War II in 1941, the holiday has withstood centuries of twists and turns, always serving to remind us that we truly do enjoy many blessings.

Even now, finding ourselves once again challenged by the circumstances of our day — rising food costs, record inflation, stock market turmoil, war, etc. — we are able to look around at a troubled world and know that God is in control. For that, we can give great thanks!

As struggling men, women and children walk through our doors to escape their own troubles — hardships like poverty, abuse, addiction and homelessness — I am grateful for the privilege of watching God transform them to hope, joy and lasting productivity. Often, that transformation begins when a hurting neighbor receives basic necessities like meals, clothing and shelter — things that your support helps provide. But that’s not all they find here at MRM. God is using your gifts to provide educational opportunities, spiritual guidance, job training and so much more to these precious souls!

Thank you for your compassion toward those who turn to MRM for help. Your generosity is making a real difference in the lives of those who are hurting in our community! I thank God for you!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Renewing Minds and Transforming Lives

Dear Friend,

“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I love those words taken from Romans 12:2 (NIV). They describe so perfectly what God is doing in the lives of men, women and children every day at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission — people like Anthony, whose story you can read in our July newsletter.

You see, transformation is what we long to see in the lives of those who come through our doors for help. Often, once basic needs are met — like food, clothing and shelter — our guests start to experience real change. Nourished and comfortable in a welcoming environment, they realize they are safe — and the door to hope is opened. We are able to share the message of God’s love and His desire to have a relationship with them. And, we’re able to explain that He created them with a purpose.

As He works in their lives, and as He uses you to work in their lives, we count it a privilege to witness these precious souls experience true transformation — not only in their health and well-being, but in the transformation and renewal of their minds to new hope!

Your support helps make this kind of lasting change possible for folks like Anthony. I hope you’ll be encouraged when you read his story and know how grateful Anthony and so many others like him are for your generosity!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

P.S. Once again, committed friends like you showed up in a big way to support our neighbors in need through our More Than Meals Matching Challenge. Your gifts, doubled through the match, totaled $427,079.73 for life-changing care. We can’t thank you enough!

Witnessing God’s Love and Grace in Action

Dear Friend,

I am always so grateful when I see how God is using caring people like you to provide critical resources, encouragement and care to men, women and children experiencing hunger and homelessness. More than that, it humbles me that God has given us the privilege of being part of the real life transformation that takes place here.

And a crucial turning point in that transformation is when our guests learn the most important lesson we could ever share: that God loves them. That God forgives their sins through the finished work of His son, Jesus Christ — who lived, died and was raised to new life to redeem us from all of our mistakes, guilts and sins. When they embrace that truth by faith, that’s when real transformation happens.

The precious people who embark in our programs grow in so many ways. They learn how to work as part of a team, gain skills and training in practical areas like food service or housekeeping, and they develop important soft skills, like time management and budgeting. They also learn how to build healthy relationships, as well as create a supportive community that will hold them accountable.

But when they truly understand that transformation takes faith, time and hard work, and that they have God’s help, as well as the support of the Christian community — that’s when they realize the truth of Philippians 1:6 (NIV): “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

What a privilege we have to witness God’s love and grace in action as lives are transformed through Jesus each and every day. Thank you for being a part of this miraculous work!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.

Easter Miracles

Dear Friend,

For Christians, Easter is the central historic truth of our faith. Jesus is 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. His resurrection means that every sinner — which is all of us — can be reconciled to God and filled with His Holy Spirit.

Every day of the year, we aspire to share the hope of Easter with our guests and throughout our community. And we aspire not only to share this hope, but to live and work according to it. By God’s grace, this hope is seen all over MRM — from the simple acts of love and kindness that daily occur within our walls, to the two huge signs atop our Central Campus building that say Christ died for our sins and Jesus Saves that can be seen from blocks away!

Making Easter Real and Personal

Whenever we celebrate someone graduating from one of our programs, our graduates give testimony of how their lives were changed because they heard the Gospel and now embrace the hope that Jesus brings. Where once they were struggling, feeling lost, alone and hopeless — now, many will be moved to tears of gratitude because of the transformation they’ve experienced. By God’s power, our guests overcome crises, brokenness, addiction, hurt, anger and more.

When you partner with MRM to serve men, women and children in need, you are helping not only to “love your neighbor” as God commands, but to share His perfect solution of Jesus Christ. With your help, Easter becomes so much more than just another holiday — it becomes a celebration of God’s life-changing power and grace through the life, death and triumphant resurrection of His Son!

God bless you for caring about those facing homelessness, hunger and hardship in our community. Thank you for sharing with them the truth of the resurrection and the love of Jesus! Happy Easter — Christ is risen!

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.