Just think of it. No special get-togethers. No Christmas cards or presents. No celebration meals around the table with family and friends. No rest from the toil of the day. Just one more empty day.
No comfort. No love. Even worse ... no God. A life without Jesus Christ. This is what it is like for those alone and stuck at Christmastime. They are left hopeless.
They have no friends or family. They are going nowhere good. And life is getting worse.
But December does have Christmas. And those who need a place to recover have Hope Gospel Mission. A place to rest, grow and know they are loved and cared for by God. Thanks to friends like you who keep our doors open, they have a reason to celebrate this Christmas.
Because of you, the beautiful love of Christmas is changing lives. The poor, hungry and lost are welcome just as the shepherds were welcomed to witness the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You bless many. Thank you and Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us here!
P.S. In this newsletter, you will read about the great work you do for our community. Thank you for being a faithful friend to those in desperate need.
Emily woke up feeling pain all over. Sleeping in a car does that to you. The windows were steamed up and it was cold. It was winter in Eau Claire, and Emily was homeless. For three years she lived this way. On very cold nights, she would go with a friend into someone’s house to party, drink and take drugs. Mostly, she wanted to get out of the cold, but drinking was her life.
She was hopeless, and she knew it. She had once been a good worker, but all motivation to work and take care of herself was gone. She thought about doing something criminal to go to jail, where at least she would be warm and have three meals to eat.
How far she had come from her innocent days as a 9-year-old! She remembered waiting for the church bus to come along and pick her up. Her parents had stopped going to church long ago, but she liked it. She read her Bible and prayed. Those were good days.
Those days ended at age 12 when she started drinking. Her friends were doing it, so she did too. It was normal after a while, so normal that she showed up for school in the 10th grade intoxicated. It was serious. Her parents didn’t seem to care too much when she was taken the 50 miles to Eau Claire for counseling.
She was alone in a different city and desperate. But she got a job and started to put a life together. Six years later, the company where she worked failed, and the only job she could find was bar tending. Because of her childhood introduction to alcohol, she easily fell into a drinking habit.
Before long, she lost her job and apartment. She lived with family for a while, but without a job or money, they eventually told her to leave. She was homeless, sleeping in her car and partying from house to house.
Thankfully, she was arrested. Jail time gave her a chance to sober up and come to her senses. Upon release she came to Hope Gospel Mission to stay at the Ruth House, our home for single women.
One year later, life for Emily is better than it has ever been. Her child-like love for Jesus has returned stronger and deeper than ever. She has joined a local church and likes the people. God has planted her in a pleasant place. Peace has come. She looks ahead, confident of the promises God has given her.
One of her favorite verses is Romans 15:13 … “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."
Eric left home after successfully graduating from high school with honors. He was out to enjoy himself. That meant the party life, which he had experienced in middle school and high school. He expected it would just get better as he moved on.
But the drugs and alcohol that came with his focus on pleasure took hold of him. He wasn’t working to build a career and a good life ... he was working to provide drugs that he had come to depend on. That led to losing one job after another and moving place to place.
His family was worried. They could see his demise. This nice young man was losing his health and his self-respect, stealing and sleeping homeless in bus stations — wherever he could.
Time in prison sobered Eric up. After fifteen months he left, wanting to settle into a quieter life. He was close to thirty years old and his life had no real meaning. So, he worked and walked the line of good behavior, living with his aunt and uncle.
Old habits die hard. Before long Eric was drinking a little and then a lot. He fell quickly, even overdosing on drugs.
That convinced him he couldn’t “white-knuckle” his way to the good life, holding on with all his strength. Eric needed help beyond his own. Hope Gospel Mission was the place.
“You start from ground zero. They provide everything you need. Even toothbrushes.”
Looking around he could see others who had been here for a year. “They were where I wanted to be. They were working good jobs with their own place and a car. They were happy and part of a church. I wanted all that, and I knew I couldn’t get it myself.”
Eric happily became part of the Hope Gospel community. At this time of writing, he has been here just six weeks. For the first time since a child, he has started going to church and playing guitar in the worship team. Last week he began reading the Bible, starting in Genesis, and Mark, in the New Testament.
“This is all new to me,” he said. “And I want it.”
Gifts given in Memory
Persons being honored are listed first.
- Helen Ruf, Evelyn R Ruf
- Tom Blanchette, Jon and Jane Danielson
- Ken Sortedahl, Robert and Glennyce Eberspacher
- Patrick Gannon, Joyce Gannon
- Mike, Regan and Carolyn Krieger
- Robert DeLong, Dennis and Karen Wagner
- Robert and Audrey Gayhart, Thomas and Sharon Coates
- My Father and Sister in Heaven, Kelly Snider
- Randy Goettl, Jean Wolfe
- Michael Lauer, Orville and Shirley Anderson
- Michael Lauer, William and Joanne Baxter
- Michael Lauer, Mary and Peter Birschbach
- Michael Lauer, Donna and Del Bourget
- Michael Lauer, John P. and Jean M. Fischer
- Michael Lauer, Jan and Roy Fuerstenberg
- Michael Lauer, Ronald and Sharon Germann
- Michael Lauer, Edward and Kathleen Gumbert
- Michael Lauer, Sharon Jurjens
- Michael Lauer, Karen and Ken Lee
- Michael Lauer, Neil and Barbara Liljander
- Michael Lauer, Julie and John Lump
- Michael Lauer, William and Deborah Navarre
- Michael Lauer, Peters Real Estate/Peters Rental
- Michael Lauer, Boydd and Jean Piper
- Michael Lauer, Scott and Clare Rasmussen
- Michael Lauer, Linda And Michael Swensen
- Michael Lauer, Timothy and Marjorie Tyler
- Michael Lauer, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
- Michael Lauer, Chris and Debra Hubbell
- Sky - Hunter, Winter and Heidi Koziczkowski
- John Johnson, Hans and Randi Riedel
- Michael Lauer, Michael Siker
- Wilfred G. Burlingame, LaVonne Burlingame
- Michael Lauer, Mary A. and David L. Larson
- Ovila (Ole) Stang, Gary and Nancy Stang
- Ruth Blake, Kelly and Michael Blake
- Victor Sorenson, Darla Sorenson
- Michael Lauer, Adams Automotive
- Dorothy Bauer, Maribeth and Dennis Serum
- David "Woody" Woodruff, Bonnie Thompson Post
- Jim Thill, Richard and Teresa Van Gelder
- Ruth Blake, Kelly and Michael Blake
- Donald Hodges, Richard and Rosemary Mitchell
- Donald Hodges, Troy and Katrina Petry
- Donald Hodges, Lucia and John Schone
- Donald Hodges, James and Nancy Sylte
- Delores Zimmerman, James Strauch
- Donald L Noll, Keith Noll