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Volunteer Stories

Jack’s Story

Volunteers are one of our most precious resources here at Gospel Rescue Mission. Even though some of the tasks don’t always feel super “rewarding,” like doing dishes or manning the front desk, it is making a HUGE impact on the guests, whether you see it or not. The peaceful presence of a volunteer can sometimes calm a frustrated person or sharing a story with them or even just a conversation can spark a fire. You hardly ever get to see firsthand how what you do here, or what you give, makes a difference, but it really does. And not just in the lives of our guests. Just ask Jack.

When he was first saved, he was asked to go into prison ministry. At first, he was reluctant because he knew it would be a big commitment, and after all, he was a new Christian, still trying to get his own bearings down. He agreed to do it though and after a time, he developed a craving for serving God in whatever capacity that he could. The more he served, the more blessings he received. Not financial blessings, but something much more rewarding: spiritual fulfillment. He knew had a calling to serve, so he expanded his reach, helping not only in prison ministry, but branching out into the homeless sector. He started working at a shelter in Tulsa, and eventually he became a leader in their program. Watching how God was working in the lives of, not just the guests in their Mission, but the volunteers and himself as well, was miraculous.

He made his way back to Muskogee and that’s when he decided to start serving at the Gospel Rescue Mission. He is confident that when you serve, it really seems to work double time. It’s helping others, but it’s also helping yourself. It just makes you feel good. “Fulfilling is really the best way I can describe it,” he said. “It leaves you with a big smile on your face.” He continues to serve in the prison ministry, and has been for over 29 years, with over 10 years simultaneously in homeless outreach. It hasn’t been an easy or convenient road, but he feels that it’s been so worth it.  

With so much time invested, it’s important to keep his own fire fueled so he spends a lot of time in scripture. In Matthew 25, there is the parable of The Sheep and The Goats, where it talks about Jesus coming to sit on his thrown, and he will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the ones who are blessed by the Father, and during His time of need, they helped Him. In the parable, the sheep were confused because they didn’t remember helping him at all. In Matthew 25:40 it says, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” This parable really sticks out to Jack. To him, serving people is just like serving Jesus himself.  “Who wouldn’t want to do something for Jesus when he’s done so much for you?” he asked.

Jack serves with Seventh Day Adventist Church on Saturday evenings. They feed the guests physically by cooking and serving a hot dinner, then they feed them spiritually with a sermon in the chapel. Jack and his church are an important part of our volunteer team, and we are so thankful for all their help. He had mentioned that he wasn’t sure whether what he was doing was really having an impact, but he knows it’s what God wants, so he obeys. If you have thought about serving but aren’t sure whether you would really make a difference, I encourage you to read our guest stories. Not all of them are ready for life change, and that’s ok! For the ones that are though, the volunteers and donors make a HUGE impact on them. Anyone that serves, donates, or sponsors events at GRM can know that they played a part in every success story that we have. You can make a difference!

If you would like to get involved by volunteering, email Charolette at charolette.sander@grmmuskogee.org, and to get involved financially, email Nycky at Nycky.miller@grmmuskogee.org. We would love to schedule a tour and show you around our amazing facility!

Categories
Volunteer Stories

Lillian’s Story

Picture this: A small diminutive tree, mostly dried out, and dying. The branches are brittle, no longer green and pliable, and the leaves are dropping off, drifting off toward the ground. The landscape is trying to reclaim this tree, trying to call it back to the earth from where it came. All but one branch is succumbing to it’s call. One branch, that by some miracle has survived the elements and the hardships that plagued the tree, is now blossoming, checkered with leaves of every color as it prepares for the new season. While this branch can’t separate itself from the tree, its living cells are trying to spark a rejuvenation, not necessarily for the tree which it belongs to, but for the other trees dying in this same orchard. This is the story of Lillian, the branch that lives.

Her great-grandmother was devoted to charity and loved to give back to her community. She was actually one of the original donors for the WISH program. Somewhere along the way, her daughter, Lillian’s grandmother, lost her way though and fell into addiction. This began the plague that seemed to infiltrate their family tree. Addiction began to spread to other branches, like her parents and siblings, but she managed to fight it off. “I watched it tear my family apart, and it kind of made me go the opposite way.” She was raised mostly by her grandmother, and she told stories of eating meals at the old Gospel Rescue Mission. Despite her drug use, Lillian’s grandmother was good to her and showed her love and a caring home. It was because of this, and her love for her family, that from even elementary school, Lillian knew she was meant to help people that were in addiction.

A bad relationship was about to disrupt the stability Lillian was trying to create for herself. She met a guy in high school, and in her senior year, after making it almost to the end of her schooling, she dropped out to follow him as he moved to another state for work. Soon after, a near-fatal car wreck for someone she was very close to shook her world up, but not in the way you would think…

She spent a lot of time in the hospital with her friend, in fact it was nearly 2 months, but it was 2 months that would forever shape her future. Being around the hospital staff, nurses and doctors, she felt a stirring within, a calling. She knew that was the path God had meant for her, and in that moment, she realized that there was more to life than poverty or addiction. It would take some time before she would act on this realization, but she would soon discover that nothing would stop her. Not even being a single mom.

That’s right, Lillian found out she was pregnant. She gave birth to a precious little girl, and that’s when she knew that she was ready to make some changes. Her and her boyfriend eventually broke up, but that wasn’t going to slow her down. She got her GED, and then she got started on a degree in nursing through Connors State College. Despite several setbacks that should’ve been enough to knock her out of school, she wasn’t going to let the devil win, and with the support of her new boyfriend, she persisted.

Then she was given a choice: did she want to do a work study program for school and make some extra cash on the side, or did she want to participate in a non-paid internship where she could really do some good for the community and gain some knowledge in the field she was hoping to work in? So, remembering her elementary school promise that she had made to herself, to be able to help those in addiction, she came to Gospel Rescue Mission to complete her internship.

If you come by GRM, you can meet Lillian at the front counter where she is quick to greet you with a warm smile and friendly words. Our big picture plan here is to one day have a rehabilitation facility on site, and Lillian hopes to be able to work there someday. She is an incredible volunteer, and we are so thankful for her help! This “living branch” is definitely making an impact on our orchard here, and we know that through the healing power of Jesus Christ, our orchard full of ailing trees will one day start to bloom, producing the sweetest fruit, just like Lillian did!

For more on how to join Lillian in volunteering at Gospel Rescue Mission, reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator, Charolette Sanders at charolette.sanders@grmmuskogee.org.   

Categories
Volunteer Stories

Jessica and Camille- Doorways of Hope A Volunteer Story

Jessica is an amazing volunteer here at Gospel Rescue Mission. She is a leader for Doorways of Hope which is a faith-based recovery program for people with addiction, abusive relationships, grief, and anyone that is hurting. It is a mandatory program for our guests, but it is also open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend. They teach a group lesson and break into small groups for more in-depth personal discussions.“We are more like sounding boards than advice givers,” Jessica explained. The stories of healing that come from this program are so incredible and inspiring! And Jessica’s, although now a leader, is one of these incredible success stories.

During my meeting with her, another woman popped in that was there to attend Doorways of Hope. She sat quietly listening as Jessica filled me in on what a powerful program she was helping to lead. Toward the end though, she began to open up and was able to share with me some of her story as well.

Her name is Camille. Her life was great until a few years ago, she lost several important people in her life all within a four-year time frame. Imagine losing your mom, then a year later, your father, followed by your step-dad and your aunt. It was like she couldn’t fully finish the grieving process from losing one before another was lost. Her grief became a quicksand; not all at once, but slowly consuming her year after year as those deaths, combined with her own divorce started to suck her under. Before long, she could no longer cope with her heartache and turned to alcohol as a way out. But just like when you struggle against the quicksand, it takes you in faster; the alcohol had the same effect, deepening her depression until she couldn’t continue anymore. And then there it was: rock bottom.

Read more about Camille from an early story

But just when she was about to give up, Gospel Rescue Mission extended a branch into her quicksand, and with a shaky hand, she grasped it. Through the tears and the pain, she was able to get sober. She found Doorways of Hope along with a couple other key programs and slowly started pulling herself out of the pit. So where is Camille now? She’s in her own home, she has a car, and she has a job. Even though her life is back on track, she sticks with Doorways of Hope to continue her growth and recovery.

At this point in our conversation, the two ladies were excited to share with me a new program coming up called The Challenge. Their motto is “Letting Go, Letting God.” It’s a program built to challenge people to let God take the wheel and watch just how far he can take them. It’s amazing what can happen when we aren’t in control, and we just turn it over to God. Just like with Doorways of Hope, their top priority is giving people a safe and judgement-free environment in which they can find healing and share their stories. “Just because your story is different than mine, doesn’t make it any less important,” Jessica told Camille and me. After all, aren’t the endings to all of our stories still unwritten anyway?