The Life-Changing Power of Encouragement
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” [1 Thessalonians 5:14-15]
To encourage means: To inspire with courage, spirit or hope; To spur on; To give help or patronage to.
Though it was a few years ago now, I still remember the pained look on the volunteer’s face when she said, “I’m not sure I’m helping. There is just so much hurt!”
What this sweet volunteer did not recognize in that moment was how powerfully God was using her in the lives of our guests. She could not take away the hurt they had experienced, but she could spend time with them and encourage them, and she did this in a mighty way.
As we walk alongside our guests on their path to rejoining healthy community, one of the most important roles we play is that of an Encourager. As Proverbs 16:24 states, “…pleasant words bring healing to the bones.” Encouragement renders the overwhelming manageable. It is a balm to those who are struggling, grieving, lonely and discouraged.
We hear over and over from our guests how talking with a trusted volunteer or staff member allows them to keep going. Truly, as Proverbs 15:4a states, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life.” Encouragement is not only life changing, at times it is lifesaving.
We recognize that it is no small feat for our guests, volunteers and staff to stand firm against the world’s forces of divisiveness and discouragement and claim God’s promises. We are so thankful for the covering of prayer. Each of us has the profound blessing of being able to encourage one another with scripture, prayer, presence, support and words. The beauty of Proverbs 11:25 plays out time and again: “He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”
God bless you, Encouragers of the Eugene Mission!
Life Change Graduation
Just Three Weeks Away!
The Eugene Mission invites you to attend the 2021 Life Change Program graduation.
6:00pm June 18, 2021
@City First Church (formerly First Church of the Nazarene)
730 W 8th Eugene, OR 97402
Limited capacity for reservations email: LCgraduation2021@gmail.com
Join us via livestream, details to follow on eugenemission.org
Recovery Takes Time and Encouragement
“I think it is fair to say, no one wakes up in the morning and decides methamphetamine is a good idea,” says David Helder with frank candor.
David struggled with years of drug addiction and periods of sobriety and relapse that left him feeling hopeless. As David shares his story, he is emotional.
“I wanted to do the right thing, but I had this addiction that derailed me,” he says. “When I was on the streets, I was wretched.”
A little over a year ago David decided to give the Life Change Program a try after bumping into Program Manager Denver Harris on the hiking trails of Skinner Butte Park. Denver was out for a stroll and David was folding up the small camping space as he had just spent another night living outdoors.
“It was kind of a miracle,” shares Denver smiling. “I invited David to explore the Life Change Program at the Eugene Mission.”
David grew up in a small town in Washington state on the Canadian border. His father drove long-haul trucks and was away from home for much of the time. David describes his childhood as chaotic and unloving.
“I had no self-worth, no encouragement,” he says. “I was never good enough and I felt like no one cared for me.”
David’s testimony reflects the experience of many of our guests at the Eugene Mission. They are “homeless,” but the issues go deeper than lack of a house key. There is trauma, loss, isolation and hopelessness.
“I just wanted to be accepted and to be liked,” shares David. “I felt like I couldn’t do anything right.”
David recounts that he began drinking at age 14 to fit in with friends. He was smoking marijuana by age 16 and progressed to cocaine and methamphetamine.
“I turned my back on everything,” he says. “I didn’t like drugs but at the same time, when I was loaded, I was completely numb. I didn’t have to feel my feelings.”
Over the course of David’s stay at the Eugene Mission, he has worked on changing coping patterns that lead to drug use and codependent tendencies.
“I try to rush things and my mentors have encouraged me to slow down and to trust the process,” he says. “I turned my back on everything in pursuit of a quick fix. It takes time to get sober and even more time to like being sober.”
David has returned to his love of music and is a gifted pianist. He has also taken up running with men at the Mission who started the “Mission Miles” running club.
“I started running one mile for each month I was sober,” he shares.
In January, David ran a half-marathon to mark his thirteenth month clean and sober. When the Mission campus experienced a COVID outbreak requiring a lockdown for nine weeks, David continued running on campus. The campus is 7.5 acres, and the street frontage is exactly half of a mile. David could be seen running 26 times up and down First Street, observing pandemic precautions while getting his miles in.
Now in the final phase of the Life Change Program, David is working full time at NW Auto Detailers where he was recently commended for his can-do attitude and strong work ethic. As David saves for his future and plans his graduation from the Program, he shares that the encouragement and time invested in him has been tremendously healing.
“I have normal relationships with people,” he says. “It feels nice to be able to be ‘me’ without numbing myself out.”
David is on track to graduate with his Life Change cohort on June 18th at City First (Formerly First Church of the Nazarene).
The Importance of Play: Re-Creating Through Recreation
Last week, a group of Mission guests and staff planned a hike to enjoy the sunshine and the stunning clarity of the McKenzie River’s Blue Pool area. Picnic lunches were packed, and volunteers arrived to join in the adventure. During the 5-mile roundtrip hike, the group shared laughter and conversation along with gasps of wonder while experiencing the beauty of what’s also known as Tamolitch Pool. The friendships and connections between guests and volunteers is one of the most impactful and healing times spent at the Mission.
Recreation is one of the most important elements of the Eugene Mission’s programs, though it is often misunderstood. Why take a guest for a hike when there are pressing matters to address, housing lists to scour and legal issues to resolve? While Mission staff work with guests to navigate the complexities of their situation, social and emotional health through recreation is also important.
“Recreational activities are an excellent tool for teaching individuals how to achieve goals, solve problems and socialize without the use of drugs and alcohol,” explains Life Change Program Manager Denver Harris. “Boredom is one of the biggest challenges our guests face early on in their recovery. Their leisure and social activities most likely revolved entirely around alcohol and drug use.”
Depression and anxiety are significant challenges for many Eugene Mission guests. A quick Google search provides a panoply of reasons for, and the benefits of, sober recreation. Some of the obvious benefits are reduced stress levels, decreased anxiety, enhanced team-building skills and—more importantly—it is fun!
“In recovery, compensatory behaviors are critical. In other words, what is going to replace the mood-altering experience one gets from their addiction?” asks Life Change case manager Bryan Kimball.
The Life Change Program has regularly scheduled trips to hiking destinations and area parks for barbeques, softball games and time in the outdoors as weather permits.
“One of the greatest joys of my job is to hear laughter. For many of these people, there was no joy. There was no levity,” shares Denver. “Many of our guests have never had a parental figure who cared for them, advocated for them, and played with them.”
“Sometimes, life in a shelter can seem like endless appointments and survival mode,” shares Mandy, a guest in the Eugene Mission’s Women’s Center. “I had forgotten about fun.”
Mandy is reflecting on her day spent visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon on a recent Mission field trip. The weather was perfect, and the plan was to enjoy the mirth of springtime in the remarkable 40-acre expanse of tulip-palooza!
Recreational trips such as the Tulip Festival outing were underwritten by a donor who wanted to be an Encourager. The donor’s plan was for a trip through Dutch Brothers for coffee drinks and onward to Woodburn for an afternoon stroll in the tulip fields. Lunch was adjusted for the COVID restrictions of the week with a trip to the In-N-Out Burger drive-through in Salem before returning to Eugene. The entire group returned sun-kissed and filled with laughter and gratitude.
“Thank you for encouraging me to go,” says Mandy, gratefully. “That really got me out of my rut.”
You are welcome. And thank you to our generous donors and Encouragers who make these experiences possible.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Ways To Give
- Be an Encourager and sponsor a field trip or outing.
- Give online and become a monthly sustaining donor at eugenemission.org.
- Give by mail using the enclosed envelope.
- Please remember the Eugene Mission in your estate planning will or instrument. Reference FEIN#93-0563797
- The Eugene Mission gratefully accepts donations of stock.
- We are in need of a tractor to help with the maintenance of our 7.5-acre campus.
- We are in need of bicycle helmets for our guests who commute by bike.
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Encouragement is a Two-Way Street
Three years ago, Mike Jones found himself at the doors of the Eugene Mission following a divorce that left him feeling hopelessly defeated. In his initial months at the Mission, Mike was a quiet man who kept to himself much of the time. Things changed during the pandemic when volunteer shifts were paused, and the need arose for guests to help more with daily operations.
Mike was one of the first to sign up for volunteer shifts and for the new residential program called R3(Rescue + Revitalize + Restore). He soon found himself feeling a renewed sense of purpose.
“During my stay at the Mission, I learned how to love being alive again,” said Mike during a recent visit.
During the height of the pandemic, Mike was one of the hardest workers on campus, helping the kitchen staff prepare meals and just about any other task at hand. Before or after his volunteer shifts, Mike took up running, a perfect pandemic past time. Before long he had inspired other guests to run with him. And then he inspired staff to consider their exercise routine (or lack thereof). Many of us have returned to regular workouts thanks to Mike’s inspiration.
With renewed purpose and close to 80 pounds in weight loss, Mike was recently hired full time at Brun’s Apple Market. Mike has been an asset at his workplace and has made friends easily with his co-workers, who helped him find an affordable studio apartment. Two weeks ago, Mike announced, “It is time,” and with the help of Mission volunteers, he moved out and into his own place.
Located conveniently close to the Amazon running trails, Mike has been working, hitting the running trails and pursuing the life he has worked hard for. Way to go Mike! We knew you could do it!
Please pray for our guests who are moving on into housing and employment. May they remain strong
in their faith and their sobriety. Amen.
We invite you to visit our campus. Learn more about our programs and property! Contact email@example.com.