May 2021 Newsletter

Celebrating Overcomers

Far too often we see the suffering, the tents and the debris and want to cry out that we are losing the battle. Yet, if we look more closely, we see precious human beings hungrier than ever for a relationship with their Savior, more open than ever to a word of encouragement and desperate for the opportunity that will bring true healing and recovery.

Their path forward is not easy. Like the Israelites in the desert, there is a strong lure to return to their place of greatest bondage rather than continue the arduous journey and face the uncertainties of even a Promised Land.

“Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” [1 John 5:5]

This is why we celebrate the miracle of recovery in the lives of the overcomers here at the Eugene Mission. Our guests have embraced the journey forward and their lives and legacies are eternally changed. The shackles of trauma, generational issues, mental illness and addiction fall away.

We are delighted to share these overcomers’ stories with you. May it be to God’s glory!

Sheryl Balthrop
Executive Director

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
[Romans 8:37]

Life Change Graduation

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:

Join us via livestream, details to follow on

Life Change Provides Trusted Foundation

John Kelly came to the Eugene Mission hoping to break his addiction to alcohol and methamphetamine.

“I’ve been through multiple programs, and for me, they just scratched the surface,” says John. “I’ve been sober 21 months now.”

As John shares this, he is counting backwards with his fingers and breaking into a smile.

“I had to think about that. I’d like to add that is the longest I have ever been sober.”

John’s journey to the Eugene Mission shares a common theme with many of our guests who struggle with addiction.

“I wasn’t sure I had another ‘go’ left,” states John. “I had tried recovery so many times. I had failed attempt after failed attempt after failed attempt. I was in and out of hospitals and detox centers. I thought I would die under a bush. God obviously had other plans.”

When John arrived at the Eugene Mission early last year, he applied to Life Change, a 12- to 18-month addiction relapse prevention program that is structured and intensive. The Eugene Mission also offers a crisis Rescue Shelter option for guests who are looking to get off the streets for short-term stabilization. The Rescue Shelter is the entry point for all new guests and is low barrier (no initial drug testing). Many guests use drugs and alcohol right up until the moment they are ready to quit. After an initial 14-day stay, guests have the option to enroll in either the Life Change Program or the new R3 Program (see “Path Off the Streets…” below). The vast majority are seeking help with intractable addiction, depression and anxiety.

As John approaches his graduation from the Life Change Program after 18 months of hard work, he describes his experience.

“I have a lot of deep trauma I won’t go into,” he says frankly. “Suffice it to say, trauma is at the core of addiction. I found people here who have integrity that I could trust and get it out on the table. I found grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. That is new for me. For me, that is the foundation I was missing.”

Over the course of the 12- to 18-month Life Change Program, guests take classes, participate in process groups and attend recovery meetings while adhering to a structured schedule of life skills work, community service projects and one-on-one meetings with their counselor and mentors. Guests also participate in outings and activities that are sober and enriching.

“My favorite memory of Life Change was the rafting trip. I was new in the program and here I was, tubing on the river with a bunch of dudes,” John says, laughing. “It was fun. I had forgotten fun. You’re out there so long you don’t know what fun is anymore. It’s just survival and watching your back.”

John is referring to a four-day camping and rafting trip on the McKenzie River last summer. The Life Change men had been sheltering in place together as a “pod” and were able to escape to the wilderness for a week of camping, hiking and rafting.

“It was camaraderie with men just like me,” says John. “That brotherhood helped me day in and day out. It still does. It’s very important to me.”

John is completing the fifth and final phase of Life Change and will graduate with his cohort on June 18th. John is living in a studio apartment at the Mission and working full-time at Pacific Metal Fabrication and saving money for his future.

“My greatest accomplishment is completing this program and learning to live life on life’s terms,” shares John. “I have seen this through to completion, being accountable, sticking it out and trusting God. God has never failed me, and He never will. For me, that is simply miraculous.”

Relapse-Prevention Skills Inspire Change for Good

Daniel was offered his first beer from his father when he was just four years old. He began using methamphetamine and other drugs as a teenager. He spent most of his young adult life homeless.

“My earliest childhood memories are filled with violence. My dad constantly hit my mother, sister and me,” shares Daniel with frank honesty. “I tried to end my life four times before I finally came here.”

Daniel’s testimony is heavy with early trauma and abuse, a common theme with our guests at the Eugene Mission.

As a young man from rural Oregon, Daniel enjoyed nature, camping and being outdoors. He tells stories of being up in the hills driving trucks, hunting and fishing. Daniel found as he became homeless, that living on the streets versus being in the great outdoors were vastly different experiences. Subsistence tent camping was chaotic, dangerous and stressful. Drug use was rampant. Theft and violence were a constant threat.

“I remember looking up at the sky and thinking there has got to be more than this,” recalls Daniel as he describes his time living on the streets. “I’ve been sober now for 10 months. I’m surrounded by people who are sober for the first time in my life.”

Daniel is currently in the third phase of the Life Change Program. During this phase, participants work to identify and move past fears and resentment, as well as self-defeating and addictive behaviors. Such skills are elemental to future relapse prevention by helping participants identify the thinking patterns that tempt substance abuse.

“I’m gaining the tools I need to deal with the trauma I experienced during my childhood,” says Daniel. “The sexual abuse, violence and nightmares left me feeling suicidal.”

It is hard to imagine that affable, easy-going Daniel could have harbored such darkness.

“The Life Change staff have given me their time,” says Daniel. “They have spoken truth and helped equip me to face my past and move beyond it. They’ve been awesome.”

Daniel is embarking on the fourth phase of the Life Change Program and will join his graduating cohort on June 18th. Daniel is also studying and saving money to obtain his commercial driver’s license with the hope of driving log or chip trucks in the hills of rural Oregon with a new outlook, future and faith.

Ways To Give

  • You may give online at where you can make a one-time donation or become a monthly sustaining donor.
  • You may give by mail using the envelope included in this newsletter.
  • Donate goods at our donation warehouse located at 1542 West 1st Avenue. Open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday – Friday. Food donations are accepted seven days a week at our kitchen between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Donate bicyle helmets.
  • The Eugene Mission gratefully accepts donations of stock.
  • The Eugene Mission gratefully accepts donations of stock.
  • For more information, please contact Beth Sheehan, Director of Philanthropy:
  • Please remember the Eugene Mission in your estate planning will or instrument. Please reference: FEIN #93-0563797.
  • We invite you for a visit to our campus for a tour and discussion of programs and services:

Life Change Brings Peace and Perspective

Alex can be seen running across the Eugene Mission property to the Willamette River trails with the perfect gait of a distance runner. He has the agility of one who has run countless races.

“I feel strong,” says Alex, smiling. “I’ve been 10 months sober, and I cannot describe how that feels. There are no words.”

Alex arrived at the Eugene Mission one year ago as the country was preparing for pandemic precautions and the governor’s stay-at-home orders that shuttered much of Oregon for 15 weeks. Alex’s circumstances warranted an accelerated entry into the Life Change Program and arrangements were made.

“I was an alcoholic and had become suicidal,” shares Alex. “I was drinking from the moment I woke up every day. It was all I did. For the last year and a half, I drank my life away. With an emerging pandemic and all of the political unrest, I had nightmares. Alcohol just amplified that.”

Alex becomes animated when he talks about growing up in Nairobi, Kenya and excelling at running and soccer. Alex attended an all-male boarding school where he was a star athlete. When he arrived in the U.S., he played soccer competitively and for a decade, coached and mentored youth in the sport. At some point, his casual drinking spiraled out of control.

“Alcohol is baffling and cunning,” says Alex. “It just swelled over me. I walked away from everything. I was wretched to my body. I couldn’t eat or sleep.”

Alex, now in his 10th month of the Life Change Program, enjoys the inner peace he feels, including being able to
sleep without the nightmares that drove him to consider ending his life. Alex has reconciled with his family and many of the parents of youth he once coached. Alex looks forward to returning to his soccer community and is working to overcome the guilt and shame of his addiction.

“This has been the best year for me,” says Alex before breaking into one of his immense smiles. “I am not alone in this struggle. I am walking with God and I’ve felt a sense of love I cannot put into words. I have happiness again. I thought everything was lost.”

Alex is on track to graduate the Life Change Program along with eight of his brothers in recovery on June 18th at City First Church (formerly First Church of the Nazarene).

The Path Off the Streets at the Eugene Mission

It breaks our hearts when someone is ready to set aside alcohol and drugs, but getting help requires a drug test they cannot pass. Many use alcohol or drugs right up until the moment they are ready to quit. As the Eugene Mission begins coordinated entry of new guests after multiple pauses due to COVID-19, the Rescue Shelter is now open. The “low barrier” entry means that guests can enter in any condition as long as they are safe to be in community. The Rescue Shelter entails an initial 14-day continuous stay so that guests have an opportunity to stabilize, rest and be screened for COVID-19.

After the initial 14-day stay, guests who wish to continue a path off the streets must pass a drug test and begin planning their future through either the R3 Program or through Life Change.

The R3 program stands for Rescue + Revitalize + Restore and is the transformational residential program for guests progressing after their Rescue Shelter stay. R3 is a relational program that is focused on “getting their wheels turning” in a direction to overcome homelessness and a need for shelter options. The program is welcoming and provides a personalized plan based on the individual’s goals and social, vocational, mental and physical challenges. Recovery support is included in R3 for those working to overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol. The focus and duration of the R3 will look different for each guest with a focus on accountability and addressing barriers.

You can read more about the low-barrier Rescue Shelter and our transformational programs on our website:

Prayer Requests

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 thank God for you.

We are so blessed that you are part of the Eugene Mission family. We look forward to continuing to serve the least and lost together.

There will always be poor in the land. Therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.