Homelessness & Poverty Are Not Seasonal Issues

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Homelessness and poverty do not wait for Thanksgiving and Christmas to occur.  Homelessness and poverty are issues that Riverside Mission deals with every day of the year.  We’ve enjoyed a relatively mild fall, which has changed in the first week of December. Warmer weather fools us into forgetting about those who don’t have roofs over their heads or warm beds in which to sleep.

In the month of October 2016, Riverside Mission provided low income housing for 11 men, emergency shelter for 219 clients, and 864 meals for those who could not afford to provide for themselves.  These are not mere numbers; these are people who need our love, care, and support.

Support for Riverside Mission, through financial giving and volunteering needs to be consistently provided throughout the year, in order to ensure this need is addressed.  This means giving by people, businesses, organizations, and corporations becoming regular monthly donors through financial or volunteer time.

After these festive seasons are over, Riverside Mission continues to see a flow of people in need coming through their doors, not people who want to help out in any way they can.  As a community, Moose Jaw needs to be more responsive to this need, not only during the worst of winter, but every day and regardless of the weather.

Darcy Golding
Riverside Mission Board Chairman

 

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(source) http://homelesshub.ca/gallery/homelessness-canada-how-many-people-are-homeless-night

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Night of Nov 30th to Dec 1st

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Last night was a milder night as there was no wind. Again, I was snug and comfortable. I went to bed a little later as I hoped not to awaken as early as I did Wednesday morning. Last night I fell asleep shortly after settling in and slept through until morning. It is my week to serve breakfast to the shelter clients and so I needed to be in by 8:00 a.m. If I get a good night’s sleep I can function well at work the following day.

There had been freezing rain in the forecast earlier in the day. Fortunately, that did not come to pass. Had we had freezing rain my night experience could have been less comfortable. My cardboard condo has served me well these last two nights. I wonder, how good it would be in inclement weather? If the temperature dropped dramatically, would I have sufficient bedding to stay safe and warm? I realize how vulnerable one can be without proper shelter.

Though I feel as if I have slept well through the night I find myself tired during the day. My performance is affected by this. I also am frequently told I look tired. We will soon discover how  third night out will affect my day tomorrow.

Night of November 29 to morning of November 30:

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There are several things I need to note. I don’t know what it is like to be homeless for several reasons:

  1. I am doing this for three nights. Regardless of how my experience unfolds I go home Friday after work.
  2. I have keys to the mission building. If anything goes awry or becomes a serious threat I have an immediate escape.
  3. Before I fall asleep I have family and friends wishing me well and a good night. I do not have a sense of being all alone.
  4. Sleeping on the roof of the mission gives me some control that I would not have sleeping on the ground in the park, under a bridge, etc. I have far less likelihood of unwanted intrusion.
  5. I am prepared for this experience. I did not lose control of my situation or suddenly find myself having to sleep outside.

It is important to me to acknowledge this as I do not want to minimize the plight of the homeless. Last night was an adventure for me and, as hoped, I have attracted some attention. The homeless person likely does not view his/her situation as an adventure and homeless people are usually invisible.

That cleared out of the way I will now focus on my experience. During the day one of our shelter clients and I put the shelter together. The pictures of my cardboard shelter can be seen on Discover Moose Jaw. Basically, it is one long box with two appliance boxes (washer/dryer) forming a hood over half of the shelter. Dan, our operations manager, went over the shelter with Tuck Tape sealing off any potential spots the wind might go through. He secured by cardboard condo to a platform he had built on the roof for this occasion. As 10:00 approached a good friend at the mission made some spaghetti for me before I went up to the roof. He wanted me to have carbohydrates to burn while sleeping in the cold. This same friend helped me load my gear up to the roof. I quickly got my bed ready. My bed is made up of two vinyl covered foam mattresses found in the basement, a denim quilt, a comforter, a pillow and my sleeping bag. I wore a long sleeve t-shirt, a hoodie, sweat pants and warm socks. The wind was strong and I was grateful that Dan had positioned my condo to keep the opened part away from the wind. I was settled by 10:30 and fell asleep shortly after. A couple of times through the night I woke up to the sound of the wind beating against my shelter but had a good sleep and slept through to morning.

Scott Elger
Executive Director

 

A Word of Thanks From Someone in our Riverside Family

My name is Helen Massop and I have been a part of Riverside Mission’s community for almost one year now. They have been welcoming, loving, caring and supportive to both my husband and I. It has given me the chance to grow as an artist and an individual.

The Mission is a great and necessary place for people to go where they can feel safe, are encouraged and welcomed whether for meals, to sleep, or for their various programs that are offered.

Thank you, Riverside Mission family, for what you do.

Helen Massop

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He Has Already Done it All

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I recently started an online bible study on forgiveness.  When I opened this week’s lesson, right there in front of me was Psalm 103.12, “As far as the east is from the west so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  It leapt off the page.  It’s exactly what I needed to hear.  Funny how God does that, gives you what you need, when you need it.

Are you like me and you try to “DO” things to atone for your sin? I do that all the time.  But I thank God I don’t have to.  He removes my sin! What a freeing thought! Be free friends! You don’t have to do anything.  He has already done it all. He died for you and me.  Give your sins to him and he will forgive you.

He gives us an escape from performing, from trying to be good enough, and from doing.  Are you a doer? I am. Doers are important, as things do need to get done, but remember:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:27

Melissa Donaldson
Administrator

“What Kind of Christian are You?!”

 

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What kind of Christian are you?! It is a question often asked of me at Riverside Mission. At best, I am a struggling one. However, the inquirer is not asking to discover whether I am conservative, liberal, fundamentalist, charismatic or orthodox. They don’t want to know whether my theology is inside or outside the box. The only thing they want to know is if my concept of ‘forgiveness’ will or will not make them live out the consequences of their actions. Actually, the question is an accusation when all other excuses and explanations have failed to persuade me to give one more chance. It suggests that I am abusing my power and position by not turning a blind eye to the infractions made.

Regardless of the intent of the question, the question itself bears examination and re examination. As a professing Christian responsible for a compassion based ministry I need to regularly revisit how love and compassion are lived out among the people we serve. What does true compassion look like? Jesus said to forgive 70 X 7 times and to turn the other cheek. Our ministry is not sustainable if we don’t hold to some structure. Included among my responsibilities is providing a safe place for our clients. This is the issue I struggle with; how do I balance love, compassion and forgiveness alongside a determination to provide a healthy and safe place for our clients, letting them know that we are serious about providing such a place?

The following are the thoughts I keep in mind:

  1. Jesus did not always give what was requested. See Mark 10: 17 -27; story of the rich young ruler, or Luke 12:13, 14; Jesus is requested to arbitrate an inheritance
  2. Riverside Mission’s vision states, “Our goal is to restore dignity and purpose through freedom from poverty, addiction and hopelessness.” I need to ensure that behaviours allow us to achieve our goal and allow clients working toward this end to find success.
  3. I am responsible for the safety and well being of our clients and the Mission as a whole and therefore cannot allow behaviours that threaten that safety and well being.
  4. Expectations of behaviour are clearly spelled out and acknowledged by the client at the time of admission.

There are rules that guide us in making our decisions. Often there are specific circumstances and special needs to consider that require wisdom. Our goal is to take loving action but sometimes that actions requires us to sever the relationship. What kind of Christian am I? The kind who will try to do what is right though it may not always be popular.

Scott Elger
Executive Director

 

Do We Have to Learn How to Love Ourselves First Before we Can Love Others? A Re-examining of the Great Commandment.

Much like the weather, we, God’s followers, go through different seasons. With each passing figurative season there are certain things we go through which result in us (hopefully) gaining a better understanding of what God places in front of us. With the current season that I find myself in, the overwhelming theme that God has placed in front of me is “clarity.” Clarity in regard to finding what specific problems plague us as an organization, clarity in regard to the overall vision of our specific ministry (and my part in how to fulfill this vision), clarity in regard to our specific needs at this present moment (and I haven’t even touched on clarity in a personal sense!). This season, over and over again, I am reminded for the need of clarity, and placing my focus upon what is important, while resisting the urge to deviate my attention to things outside of our (and my own personal) vision.

Jesus in Matthew 22 gave clarity in regard to what he considers to be most important. When asked by the expert in religious law “what is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:37b-39). Thank you, Jesus, because if you’re anything like me you need to be reminded about what is absolutely most important on a consistent basis; especially during the times where different things are competing for my attention. You cannot read this passage and be unsure as to what is the most important of all the commandments; Jesus just does not give that option.

Now, from time to time I come across the very valid question that tends to seek clarity in regard to our response to the Great Commandment: “How do I love God, or especially anybody else, if I do not know how to love myself, first?” To anybody who is wrestling with this question currently, please let me say that I appreciate you. Because when someone is going through times of self-loathing or does not feel loved, merely contemplating loving others can seem like an insurmountable task, much less acting upon it. However, loving others when we feel we do not love ourselves is indeed possible, even if it seems unachievable. Sometimes we can read the commandment of loving our neighbour as loving our-self as “because we love ourselves, it is possible to love others.” This can lead to an assumption that loving ourselves (especially in an emotionally charged manner) is a prerequisite for loving others. Let’s see if we can gain some clarity as to understanding what is most important here.

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In our relative modern worldview, we quite often have a misunderstanding of what biblical love entails. The English language is fairly inadequate in describing biblical love, because the Greek, the primary language of the New Testament, has four (some may say six) different words for love, so there is something lost in translation. The Greek word used for love in this passage is agapáō, and concerning the believer, agapáō (“to love”), in this context, primarily means actively doing what the Lord prefers, by choosing to do what God himself would do. This type of love is not to be misunderstood as primarily as a feeling, but to be understood as an action pleasing to God. This clarity is what makes the seemingly insurmountable task of loving someone else when we feel we do not love our self possible. Because even when we do not have that emotional balance for which we seek, it is still possible, by and through the grace of God, to make active choices that would satisfy the Great Commandment(s).

Another thing I have learned is that whenever God commands us to do something, it is best to be done immediately and consistently. The longer we wait, the more we use human wisdom and rationale to explain why we cannot do something. If a person can barely make it out of bed in the morning, it is still possible, and best, for him or her to come and serve others that same day. If a person has issues with self-loathing, it is still possible, and best, for him or her to come and serve others immediately. Because even when we have emotional discord wreaking havoc in us, it is still possible to have joy within; spiritual joy that can, and will, supersede emotional and physical disruption, and eventually change it for the better. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit can equip someone when the time comes; we have to trust that God meant what he said when he said he would never leave us or abandon us. This is where we depend on the lifting power of the Holy Spirit.

Two things we need to understand about God’s commandments is that he does not command something that is impossible for any of his followers to do, and quite often the healing that people seek best comes from obeying God’s word.  When broken people come and serve other broken people like they are more important than themselves, God tends to open the flood gates of his blessings, and heals people in ways that are not possible otherwise; something I have seen firsthand many times, and have experienced myself. By learning to love others first, we can truly learn what it is to love our self in the most emotionally stable and spiritually healthy way possible. I would make the argument that if we seek to love ourselves first, and then others if it is possible, we rely more upon emotional well-being (something that is temporary), rather than spiritual well-being (something that is eternal). But if we seek to love others before we love our self God will show us, and help us understand, what true love looks like. When this happens, the Great Commandment looks less like rules and regulations, and more like a central part of the human condition as God intended.  However, my words are inadequate to sufficiently explain about the kind of healing I speak of, it is something that is best experienced. Thankfully, there are many opportunities to come and serve others.

Jacob Oddie

Chaplain