Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Wisdom From A Wise Theologian

I recently ran across this from J.I Packer in Knowing God. Wise words indeed!
We talk glibly of the “Christmas spirit,” rarely meaning more by this than sentimental jollity on a family basis. But . . . it ought to mean the reproducing in human lives of the temper of him who for our sakes became poor at the first Christmas. And the Christmas spirit itself ought to be the mark of every Christian all the year round.
It is our shame and disgrace today that so many Christians–I will be more specific: so many of the soundest and most orthodox Christians–go through this world in the spirit of the priest and the Levite in our Lord’s parable, seeing human needs all around them, but (after a pious wish, and perhaps a prayer, that God might meet those needs) averting their eyes and passing by on the other side. That is not the Christmas spirit. Nor is it the spirit of those Christians–alas, they are many–whose ambition in life seems limited to building a nice middle-class Christian home, and making nice middle-class Christian friends, and bringing up their children in nice middle-class Christian ways, and who leave the submiddle-class sections of the community, Christian and non-Christian, to get on by themselves.
The Christmas spirit does not shine out in the Christian snob. For the Christmas spirit is the spirit of those who, like their Master, live their whole lives on the principle of making themselves poor–spending and being spent–to enrich their fellow humans, giving time, trouble, care and concern, to do good to others–and not just their own friends–in whatever way there seems need.
There are not as many who show this spirit as there should be. If God in mercy revives us, one of the things he will do will be to work more of this spirit in our hearts and lives. If we desire spiritual quickening for ourselves individually, one step we should take is to seek to cultivate this spirit. “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, than though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart” (Psalm 119:32 KJV)


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What Causes Homelessness - Part 3

HomeAid America lists these factors as contributing causes of homelessness:
  • Tragic life occurrences like the loss of loved ones, job loss, domestic violence, divorce and family disputes.
  • Life impacting impairments such as depression, untreated mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and physical disabilities.
  • Financial challenges resulting from unexpected expenses due to divorce, unexpected illness, sudden job loss, foreclosure, and even natural disaster.
One major contributor to homelessness is substance abuse. Although the recent epidemic of heroin use and overdose has captured the headlines, those who work with homeless individuals have long understood that homelessness is quite often secondary to substance abuse. A person's family may have no other recourse than to disassociate themselves from their loved one's self-destructive behavior.

Since 1893, the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley has provided a safety net for people who experience homelessness. The causes vary but the end result is often the same; life altering circumstances bring people to our door. With your help, we will continue to provide hope, help, and a home to those who, at least for a season, have no other place to call home.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Causes Homelessness - Part 2

Why do people experience homelessness? There is no quick and easy answer. It is easy and common to blame a stagnant or failing economy. The fallacy with that argument is that, when the economy turns around, homelessness should decrease. Most studies have shown that there has been no significant decrease in the number of those who experience homelessness in the last decade. If anything, the number is rising with little regard to the health or decline in the national economy. This rise in the homeless population is cause for concern.

Establishing a number of those who experience homelessness is difficult to do. A 2007 report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness states the “Every year, 600,000 families with 1.3 million children experience homelessness in the United States, making up about 50 percent of the homeless population over the course of the year.” ( The National Center on Family Homelessness places that number now at 2.5 million children. “This “historic high represents one in every 30 children in the United States” (

Every year in January, agencies involved in addressing homelessness conduct a “point-in-time” count to gauge the national situation on a given night. This past January,

·         There were 564,708 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.

·         Sixty-nine percent of those who were homeless were in sheltered locations and 31 percent were found in unsheltered locations (streets, abandoned buildings, cars, etc.).

·         Nearly one-quarter (23 percent or 127,787) of all homeless people were children, under the age of 18. 

·         Ten percent (or 52,973) were between the ages of 18 and 24, and 66 percent (or 383,948) were 25 years or older. (

So the question remains, why? Unless we understand the causes of homelessness we will be ineffective in our attempts to address the issue. We will continue this topic with a look at some of the issues that contribute to homelessness.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

What Causes Homelessness? Part One

Mercifully, the election is over and the post-election posturing has begun. As in most election cycles, the economy has been front and center in voter’s minds. Will our economy improve or worsen under a new administration? Will more jobs be created? Will unemployment decrease? Will wages rise?

The data is in for our most recent fiscal year (ended on September 30). On average in 2016, 119 men, women and children found shelter on any given night at the Rescue Mission. When sharing this number in the community, it is common to hear this response, “It is no wonder the number is high, given the state of the economy.” Popular opinion links episodes of homelessness with the fate of the economy. However, we have learned that there is no clear correspondence between economic conditions and the number of people who experience homelessness.

Certainly, poverty and unemployment are factors in episodes of homelessness. But, at least in the Mahoning Valley, we have witnessed an interesting trend. When the economy “tanked” in 2008, the average number of people who sought shelter at the Rescue Mission was 63. That average number dropped to 56 in 2009. As conditions began to improve, our numbers began to rise: 65 in 2010; 78 in 2011; 85 in 2012; 101 in 2013; 122 in 2014; and 131 in 2015.

How do we explain these rising numbers? Perhaps the larger question is this: “if poverty is a contributor to homelessness, what, then, causes poverty?” Why do people experience homelessness? We will look at this in the next post.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Election Day and Beyond

The term “election” brings shivers – whether one speaks in political or theological terms. Our purpose is not to delve into matters of a theological nature nor, is it to take a political position. Nonetheless, the continual exposure to the current political conversation is inescapable. We do not know who will be elected our next president. No matter who wins, this election will be historic. However, on November 9 we are confident that some things will not change:
  • The doors of the Rescue Mission will be open.
  • There will still be about 120 people who will find shelter at the Mission.
  • The Mission will serve meals to nearly 185 people.
  • Hope will continue to be found in the gospel that is proclaimed daily at the Mission.
  • And regardless who will occupy the Oval Office, God will still be in control.

Friday, October 21, 2016

We've Got You Covered

Altrusa International of Youngstown met at the Canfield Library during August to make blankets for the Rescue Mission. This was a project for their “Make a Difference Day.” President –elect Janet Haladay, Secretary Dianne Leanne, and former Vice President Judy Kane delivered these hand-made blankets to the Mission. Thank you Altrusa for making a difference in the lives of our guests at the Mission.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Open Doors

At the Rescue Mission, our doors are always open. They are open, not only for people who are experiencing homelessness, but they are open for visitors and volunteers as well. This week we were honored to have a group of Kent State University nursing students tour the Mission. This “field trip” is part of the “psych” rotation in their training.

Crystal Eckman, our Mission Ambassador and tour guide extraordinaire reports that they really enjoyed the tour. “They had a really, really good time.” Thanks, KSU students for stopping by.

Call and schedule a tour or just stop by. Our doors are always open.