Ventura County Rescue Mission
Experiencing God’s Unconditional Love!
When I came to the Lighthouse for Women and Children, I was a mess. I had just gotten out of Hillmont Mental Hospital and just got my two boys back. I had nowhere to go with my children. We were sleeping on my friend’s couch and had all our things in my car. We had no money and no family that wanted to deal with me because of my nasty attitude and how empty my heart was.
I got to the Lighthouse in February of 2010 and was given a bed for my boys and myself at the emergency shelter.
I was so happy and had hope for once in my life. Little did I know I needed much more help than I would have ever imagined. My first night I was in the shelter, I didn’t even know how to handle my own children. I was in tears and a staff member had to come over and help me. This staff member never judged me for my behavior, she just opened up her heart to me and showed me love - the type of love I had never gotten before, not even from my own family, it was unconditional.
The very next day I got into the program and had a big room to myself. I had never had a room to myself before. When I got to the program, I got so much help with life skills that I needed that helped me better raise my two boys. I also really needed and took a lot from the parenting and anger management classes.
I graduated Parent and Children Interaction Therapy, known as PCIT, which gave me even more of the parenting skills I needed. I would have never been able to do these things if it wasn’t for the Lighthouse. I also went back to school and got my GED. I was a High School dropout - I didn’t even know how to read. I went and got tutoring Monday through Thursday to learn how to read so I could pass my GED test. All this was made possible to me through the help of the Lighthouse.
I’m now in Oxnard College and have a grade point average of 3.75. I’m living in the Lighthouse’s Transitional Living Program. I still have my two beautiful boys and that means the world to me. My sons and I have a much healthier relationship then we ever could have imagined. The Lighthouse saved not only my life but my two sons as well. We now have a future and know the love of Christ through the Lighthouse; the love we have gotten from all the staff members, my church, and the many true friends I have made over the years. While here, I have been truly blessed.
I would have never done any of this without the Lighthouse on my side to thrive. Thank you, Lighthouse, with all my heart! ~ Jessica C.
San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission
Warmth and Compassion Goes Far
“Give us your tired, your poor, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” This quote embodied the emotions of the Chavez family as they were facing the fact of homelessness. Nervous, worried, and stressing 58-year-old Veteran Edward Chavez, 30-year-old Stacey Chavez, and their two children Arianna (five-years-old) and Aleiah (2-years-old) entered the doors of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission. Not knowing what to expect, they were greeted by the caring staff that helped make them feel at ease.
“We got evicted from our apartment because I lost my job and couldn’t afford the rent anymore. It was hard on me because I didn’t know what to expect, and I felt like a failure for having my family in this situation. The staff here treated us with such warmth and compassion and really gave me hope that my family and I will make it through this hardship,” said Edward Chavez.
With the help of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission’s staff and outside referrals, the Chavez family was able to find permanent housing and Edward Chavez was able to find employment. “Being here, we learned that God will never put you through something you can’t handle, and that he always has a plan for you. We wouldn’t have made it without the help of the staff; they really went the extra mile and were there for us when no one else was,” said Chavez. The San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission is very proud and excited for the Chavez family and their new beginnings.
Valley Food Bank
Staying Positive in Poverty
Their names are Joshua and Hillary. About three years ago, Hilary's mother passed away, they lost custody of their child, and have been on the street living out of their car, which they share with three dogs. Still, when we spoke, they were full of joy and humor. Hilary's eyes sparkled as she spoke about her son. They make it a point to see their son regularly. His foster parents have been excellent about that.
I asked them about their faith. They are confident of Jesus' presence. Hilary said, "It's better to believe in Jesus than go crazy.” My thought is that it's a wonder that more people don't go crazy without Him.
These two are very aware of the services that the Rescue Mission Alliance provides. Through God's grace flowing through this sisterhood of ministries, this family has been relatively thriving on the unfriendly streets.
Last Saturday, they came to the pantry for the first time. I had spoken with them ahead of time and managed to provide them with a hefty chunk of turkey. It turns out that they have resources to do a bit of grilling. They told me that they were able to provide food for their friends and had enough to give away to more than five other families. It was a joy to be a channel of blessing for this sweet couple.
When asked about any prayer requests, they asked that I pray for their homeless neighbors in the area. It was a blessing to see the Lord's generosity flowing through their deep poverty. More and more I am finding that in my feeble attempts at being a blessing, I am being doubly blessed.
Central Coast Rescue Mission
I started using drugs when I was just 13 years old, and that is when all the trouble started. I went to juvenile hall, then to jail, and then to prison where I’ve spent most of my adult life. I have always believed in God, I just never let Him fully into my life. The older I got, the more I became ashamed of my behavior, began to dislike myself, and kept running from God.
I had hit bottom so many times that I got tired of even trying. One day while I was in jail, it hit me like I was falling from the sky. The Holy Spirit came upon me and I surrendered to Jesus. I suddenly felt the longing to follow Jesus. Needing the tools and guidance to begin a new life in Christ, I chose to come to the Central Coast Rescue Mission.
At the mission is where I’ve learned a lot about the Bible and the Heavenly Father and His love for others and me. I stand before God now clean from meth and free from shame. I have a purpose in my life.
I am writing my testimony so all the ones that read this will know that there is hope after all. Jesus brings that hope and He is the hope of glory and redemption. I have found that Jesus is the only way to go, and I love my new life in the Lord. My faith, love, and character continue to grow every day. Thank you Jesus and Central Coast Rescue Mission, for your love and belief in me to become a new man in Christ. ~ Jimmy Payne
Victor Valley Rescue Mission
Thanks for Giving Community Appreciation Banquet
The Victor Valley Rescue Mission has been working at “changing lives for good” throughout the High Desert, and on Thursday they wanted to show their appreciation for the community they serve.
The ministry thanked the Victor Valley at their sixth annual Thanks for Giving Community Appreciation Banquet at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center in Victorville.
“We want to honor them, because nothing that we do would be possible without them,” Community Relations spokeswoman Veronica Trujillo said of the volunteers and sponsors who support the charitable organization.
According to Chairman of the Board Susan Conway, the mission provides hot meals and has various programs for showers, clothes, emergency food pantries, services for babies and services for animals. They also have a thrift store with 100 percent of its proceeds going back to helping those in need as well as a “warming shelter” with 400 beds for 19 days in the winter. “Because of God and because of the Victor Valley community, we are able to help the homeless and the families in need,” Conway said.
“I just find myself desiring a better life for those that are lost, hurting and broken,” said thrift store supervisor Bill Edwards. In 2012, the mission served 33,502 hot meals and provided 5,056 food boxes. The food boxes fed more than 18,000 people with 729 volunteers helping for a total of 69,817 hours, according to Director Ron Wilson.
One of the volunteers, Sandi Carlos, said she wanted to help others due to her own drug-addled past. “I get to give back to the people because I also had a drug problem at one time, so I get to give back to what I took from,” Carlos said.
Two graduates from the mission’s “life recovery program” were also able to share their stories. Jeremy George, who had nowhere to go after serving four years in prison, said the program changed him in several ways. Now he’s looking for work and trying to take back his life. “It changed my perspective on life, how I look at people and situations, learned how to look at people the way (Jesus) looks at them,” he said.
Addicted to drugs for 16 years, Jacob Granados joined the program for his 4-year-old daughter where he learned for his love of Jesus. “I’m happy. Full of joy, real joy that’s lasting, not conditional,” Granados said. “Because of that I’m finding my identity away from drugs — my identity is in Jesus.”