For the Topeka Rescue Mission Ministries, this has been a year of great challenges. For only the second time in 33 years an unprecedented financial shortfall hit us hard during the first seven months of 2019, bringing into question the services we offer, our role in the community, and even if we could continue to keep our doors open and provide food, shelter and clothing for the homeless and those in need. We were worried and shaken - our staff, our community, and especially the hundreds of people who depend on us every day.
The past several months have been a time of deep reflection, prayer, and revisiting the vision that first brought me to the Topeka Rescue Mission 33 years ago, when it was just a small, ramshackle shelter with 20 beds for men and a few women. I began praying, grappling for answers. Was God’s plan really to bless us so abundantly, only to watch us close our doors and leave so many in desperate need? Did we have it wrong this whole time - had we gotten seriously off track? Had we grown too big, offered too many services, or was all this happening for a reason?
As dire as our situation looked, a deep peace began to settle over me. I asked God to confirm again the vision that brought me here. Images began flooding my mind: images of people who have come through our doors over the years, from the staff who have served with us to the thousands of people who have sought refuge from their storms within our walls. The words “They matter” kept coming to my mind as I saw again their faces, remembered their stories. So many people over so many years.
The victims of abuse and trauma. The mentally ill. Those unable to care for themselves due to illness or addiction. The ones who escaped trafficking or domestic violence and had nowhere else to go. The fathers, mothers, families who lost everything. The children who are bullied at school for not having a home.
Each one of them matters. Each one of them has extraordinary value and worth - even when life has beaten them down and told them they’re worthless for a very long time. God laid this on my heart again in a big way, the original vision of the Topeka Rescue Mission. The vision that calls us forward to care for the ones in need. The vision that says at the end of the day, in whatever capacity we can, it’s our job to wrap them in God’s love and show them in words and actions that THEY DO MATTER!
I began to understand The Lord had orchestrated our financial challenges for two reasons. First, a refinement of how we care for and minister to those we serve: the homeless, hungry and broken. A refinement for today and for the uncertainties of what lies ahead for our community and our nation. Secondly, I understood The Lord to say He was using the potential closure of TRM to put a spotlight on the issue of suffering that exists within our community, and the unthinkable reality that a potential closure of TRM services would greatly add to this suffering. With a renewed passion I began to share this understanding with the TRM staff and members of our community.
Since we announced TRM’s critical financial needs on August 6th, the greater Topeka community has rallied around us with powerful love, support and generosity. As we have made some financial and program adjustments - explained in the highlighted section of this report - we have a renewed hope for the future. The community has joined forces with us to show every person who comes through the doors of the Topeka Rescue Mission that THEY MATTER, they have worth, they are valued.
This Christmas season I am reminded again we live in a community that so strongly embodies the true Christmas spirit, the spirit of giving. I’m abundantly grateful to a community that so strongly “shows up” when the need is the greatest. Your love and support speak volumes to the people we help every day. Thank you for saying to the hundreds who will walk through the doors of TRM this Christmas season seeking a safe, warm bed to sleep in, a nutritious meal to satisfy their hunger, or the opportunity to start over, YOU MATTER!
It’s our prayer that during this Christmas season you have the opportunity to not only reflect on the value of your family, your friends and those in need in our community, but also the value of yourself. This great season of sharing love, hope and gifts is also about how treasured you are. “For God so loved the world He GAVE His only Son...” because YOU MATTER TOO. †