At the Mission
I work as the Spiritual Life & Program Director at the Evansville Rescue Mission. These are the posts that I write that may in some way relate to my work at the mission. Sometimes I’ll change names around and sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I’ll simply repost stuff from our own website. All of the controversial and fanatical views expressed here are mine alone, and do not represent those of the Rescue Mission, it’s staff, the people it serves, the volunteers, the City of Evansville, or the many many people that graciously support the mission. With all of that out of the way, enjoy…
Yesterday I got to talk to a guy that had spent the summer in jail. At one point in his time there, he got in a fight and spent 12 days in the "jail within the jail." – no windows, a shower every 3 days, and they passed his food to him through a slot in the door. He said it was really miserable but he wouldn’t deny that he deserved it.
In his summer in jail, he read through the Bible three times, in three different translations. He said the NLT was easy to read, but he wanted to aquaint himself with the older language of the KJV, so he read it once through too.
He said he is now closer to God than ever before. He read through the 5 books of Moses, got out of jail and went back to his dad and said, "Why didn’t you ever read this and tell me that God was always with me?! Why didn’t you tell me that God went along with me through every one of my trials in life?!"
Pretty awesome. He is now in his late 30s and is eager to learn more about, and draw closer to Jesus.
We were talking about Isaiah 28 at the mission yesterday.
Isaiah 28:16 (HCSB)
Therefore the Lord God said: “Look, I have laid a stone in Zion,a tested stone,a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will be unshakable.”
In ancient times when they built buildings, it was very difficult to make a large stone perfectly square. SO they would spend all of their time on one perfect stone, making it completely square, and then line up all the rest according to its edges. The other stones needed to be flat, they couldn’t be big round boulders, but they didn’t have to be flattened into perfect square because the cornerstone was perfect. As long as they were lined up correctly with the cornerstone, the building would be built correctly.
It’s the same way with us and Jesus. HE is our righteousness; HE is our correct standing before God, and as long as we are aligned with Him correctly, our obtuse corners don’t cause any problem in the building of the building, which is us: His Church.
This opens up a bunch of questions about how we should live. Should we preach all about how you should be square like the cornerstone? Should we make ourselves the judge of what square is? Should we be the square police? Should we be the dictators of which sides need to be square and which sides can pass?
All of the answers to that are of course, obvious in our words but not so much in our actions. The fact is, if the stone next to you is a little rougher or a little rounder, you might end up holding a little more weight on that wall.
But as you bear that weight, you can shut up about that round boulder, because at the end of the wall there is a perfect cornerstone that bore ALL of the weight of perfection for you.
Tonight I left work after about a 14 hour moving extravaganza. Over the course of about 13 hours, we moved over 150 homeless men from our old facility to our new one. It was exhausting, full of unexpected questions, and tiring.
After our first dinner and our first chapel service, everyone began to settle in to the new place. Curfew is at nine o’clock, so we figured the check-ins would slow to a halt by then. I had been walking around, tying up loose ends, checking to see that I didn’t put any old guys in top bunks or young & spry guys in bottom bunks.
A guy I’ll call Sean came up to me. “Dan, can I show you something?” We walked into the suite reserved for men in our discipleship program. We stood just inside the door so as to be unnoticed. Four guys were playing pool and one was turning off the air hockey table.
“Would you *look* at these guys? They are *so happy!* They are hanging out & playing pool together!” One guy waited his turn & flipped the TV station from a commercial to a rerun of Jeopardy.
“Ok, Sean, look at this.” I took him into the kitchenette where two guys were talking about protein shakes. J.T. was sitting with a Bible journal, writing his daily entry. Across the table was another guy with a bag of chips from the vending machine and his Bible open.
We went down the hall and I showed Sean the atrium. “There is a euchre game. Those other guys are watching women’s NCAA. In the cafe (which is what we call the room with our vending machines) there are 5 guys watching & talking about the discovery channel. If you go over to the Man Cave you’ll see 7 guys watching Top Gun (in seats that used to be at Roberts stadium).”
“That’s just what all of this is for, isn’t it! It’s really being used!” Sean could see it was really turning into the mission we wanted — even on the first night.
“It’s cool! Praise The Lord!” I said.
“Hey Dan,” a guy named Bob caught me at the door. “When are the prayer rooms that you mentioned open? I just want to go read and pray.”
“We’ll do that tomorrow,” I said. “We’ve opened enough cool stuff today.”
This week we took the final pieces of the old Evansville Rescue Mission down and prepared for our grand opening of our new building at 500 E. Walnut st. One of the last things to do was to take down the cross in our old chapel and bring it over to the new chapel. Who would have thought such a thing would happen in the process.
Billy is one of our maintenance men. He couldn’t get at the bolts that held the cross on the wall, so he cut off the brackets with a hack saw and began to carry the old cross out of the building. I’m not sure how he was carrying it, but there began some commentary from the other guys that were around. They told him he was carrying it wrong. The way he was carrying it wasn’t the right way to carry a cross, the peanut gallery protested.
“Isn’t that the point?” Billy asked. “Not a one of us could carry it right! It’s not my cross anyway. He carried it right and now it’s done!”
And with that, he brought it to the new building and hung it up.
2 Corinthians 5:17 is on my mind tonight. We go there a lot at the mission and my co-workers were talking about it today too.
I’ve spent much of the last few days scanning a notebook from half a century ago. It is the notebook of Ernest “Pappy” Reveal, who was the founder of where I work, the Evansville Rescue Mission. He lived from 1880-1959 and in 1917 started the mission. You can read all about that stuff here.
Here is a page out of the notebook. The coolest part about this to me is that about a week ago we had a guy named Steve Davis preach at chapel and this was almost identical to the outline of his talk.
Here are some notes from a sermon I didn’t have to preach at the mission. Fill in the blanks on your own.