Our focus can make all the difference. A wise focus girds us for the challenges ahead whereas an unwise focus often causes us, and those around us, to despair. This principle is demonstrated in Numbers chapters 13 and 14. In these chapters, Moses sends a team of scouts to explore Canaan and report back to the Israelites.
But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneth, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still…
Initially, the scouts all share an encouraging report about the fruitfulness of the land. Later, the scouts take two very different approaches. One set of scouts “… spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.” (Num 13:32)
In contrast, the other scouts, Joshua and Caleb, fell facedown and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.” (Num 14: 7-8)
I have spent time in prayer and reflection on how our entire Mission family of guests, volunteers, supporters and staff can follow the example of Joshua and Caleb. We seek to be a campus of life-giving Hope, relationship and encouragement so that our guests may claim the “Promised Land” of vibrant vertical and horizontal relationships, health, and restoration to community and productivity.
We are not dismayed by the “giants” of addiction, mental illness, trauma, economic woes and houselessness because God is in charge, these are His people, and this is His mission.
We are so encouraged to walk with our guests as they take the steps needed to leave the streets behind. In this issue, you will hear about how our guests are engaging in life skills, outreach, and addiction recovery with courage and in reliance upon God’s promises.
Their courage and willingness to “fight the fight” needed to remove obstacles in their lives is an inspiration to us all.
Thank you for your support and for being part of our guests’ journey.
Kyle entered the Men’s Life Change Program in December 2019 after years of struggling with addiction, jail time, probation, relapse and heart ache. Life Change, now in its ninth year at the Eugene Mission, is a structured relapse prevention program which operates in its own residential building on the Eugene Mission campus. “It is incredible to see these people come in who are so broken and so lost. They have forgotten how to love themselves and they have forgotten how to love others. It is incredible to see these people walk out of here after an intensive year to 18 months of working on themselves, with their shoulders high and a new future” says Life Change Program Manager Denver Harris. We marvel at the transformation we see in our Life Change Men as they lean into a structured program which is Christ-centered and focused on holistic and “emotional sobriety.”
Kyle entered into the foster care system at the age of four with his younger brother Jacob. Kyle’s mother was an addict with her own history of pain and struggle. After a night of partying, she drove intoxicated with her two babies in the car without car seats or restraints. There was a terrible accident and Kyle went straight from the emergency room into a series of 13 foster homes by the time he was age 6. Kyle’s testimony is heavy with early trauma, loss, neglect and abuse, a common theme with our guests at the Eugene Mission.
Kyle and his younger brother were adopted together into a loving and supportive family. He became active in sports and taekwondo. When Kyle entered high school, he began forming friendships with kids who were experimenting with alcohol and marijuana. He spent many nights grounded for partying but eventually managed to graduate high school. After high school, Kyle continued to tempt trouble despite his family’s advocacy and support.
Kyle was eventually arrested for a DUII and spent his 19th birthday in jail. Kyle was put on a probation program which included 2 years of outpatient treatment and anger management classes. During his time of incarceration, Kyle reconnected with his birth mother and learned he had 7 siblings and he moved to Salem to reconnect. “I wanted to know them.” He began using methamphetamine which was rampant in the household. “I used so much meth that I became paranoid and couldn’t sleep. I trusted no one. I went completely crazy.”
During this time, Kyle’s adopted parents encouraged him to return to Eugene to pursue recovery support at the Eugene Mission. Kyle attended AA meetings and acquired a sponsor who helped him through his DUII required classes. “I heard my own story through others in my AA group and I kept going back.” Kyle decided to commit to the year-long residential and structured Life Change Program when he learned he would be having a daughter and that daughter would be placed into foster care. Kyle recognized the full circle and desired a different path for his daughter. “I have high accountability now and I am on track to get a job, a place to live and becoming the father my daughter deserves. It has been hard work” says Kyle. “I am getting my life together with the many tools I have acquired to fight my addictions. Thank you Lord for loving me and believing in me when I could not love or believe in myself.” Keep up the good work Kyle!
We love because he first loved us.
[1 John 4:19]
Samantha & Michael
There is a path for anyone who is willing to work on themselves and who is safe to be a part of our community here at the Eugene Mission. Our programs are welcoming and provide a personalized plan based on the individual’s goals and social, vocational, mental and physical health challenges. R3 stands for Rescue+Revitalize+Restore and is a six-month program with a series of tracks designed to address a range of barriers and goals unique to each individual. A person with steep barriers or circumstances beyond their control (housing availability) would continue with the R3 Program even after their completion of six months as long as they are continuing to make progress toward their goals and remain engaged in the program.
Samantha Polley, volunteers in the front office of the Eugene Mission as a guest and an R3 participant. Samantha is gaining valuable vocational skills in data entry and spreadsheets. “I love being part of the team “ says Samantha with a smile. I love answering the phone and welcoming and greeting people.” Samantha staffs the front desk during business hours and is accompanied by Mission staff and community volunteers. “I want to thank the volunteers who come in here to help us out. I think that’s amazing” says Samantha. Time in the front office has helped Samantha make significant progress in overcoming agoraphobia and anxiety. “I wasn’t able to even come into the main building and cafeteria. There were just too many people in there.”
Samantha identifies as an addict in recovery who found herself homeless after 9-1/2 years of sobriety and a relapse on alcohol. “I lost everything. I thought I could have that one drink but it turned into every day…all day.” After relapsing, Samantha became suicidal and spent time in the Behavioral Health Unit and eventually in jail. When Samantha arrived at the Eugene Mission, she was one of the first R3 enrollees. When asked how R3 has changed her experience and the culture at the Mission, Samantha shares “I love it. It’s become more stable and people actually get to work on themselves instead of just coming in and hanging out.” Samantha has been a tremendous help to Eugene Mission staff during pandemic precautions. Her enthusiasm and competence frees up staff time for R3 curriculum development. “We’re a team and you’ve included me in that team. Thank you.”
Michael Ballach, came to the Eugene Mission after his drug use and finances spiraled out of control landing him in jail and eventually homeless. “I couldn’t say no to myself. I had no self- control.” Michael began experimenting with drugs at the age of fourteen. “I started smoking and drinking and it progressed to psychedelics….I was able to keep it under control to some degree until my mother died. My mother was the heart of our family. She kept everyone together.” Michael’s father died two years later and “it affected me more than I anticipated.” Michael’s journey to the Eugene Mission shares a common theme of loss, grief and addiction.
“I had never heard of a Mission until I became homeless,” shares Michael. “People told me not to go to the Mission. I’m glad I did.”
Michael is an upbeat and helpful participant in the R3 Program helping staff the desk in the expanded, low-barrier Rescue Shelter. Michael joins the Mission Miles group on Saturday morning runs and helps out in the donation warehouse, repairing furniture and processing donations. Michael arrived at the Mission just as the governor’s stay at home orders were issued and pandemic precautions came into effect including a secure campus to shelter-in-place. When asked what he thinks about R3, the new relational programs and de-densified living spaces, Michael states “I feel humanity and growth. It’s easy to almost feel like you are in some kind of purgatory when you’re living amongst hundreds of people without any kind of connection. Before R3, there were problems with theft and fighting. I had my guard up all the time. Since R3, theft has subsided and we have a great group of people here.”
Michael is working to reconnect with his family. “When I was high, I wouldn’t contact my family. I was ashamed.” When Michael moved into the Mission, he found he was able to stay sober without the stress of living on the streets and scrambling for shelter and food. “I’ve been inebriated since I was 14. I’ve been successful at times in my life and I will get there again. I feel stronger than I was before. I have hope.” As Michael works to rebuild his finances, obtain identification and a driver’s license, he plans to continue his R3 classes and activities and establish a solid foundation in his sobriety.