Lessons from Union Rescue Mission

Last Thursday we were blessed to be visited by Rev. Andy Bales and Steve Borja of the Union Rescue Mission. It was an honor to meet them, learn from their experiences, and have them share with us at our Annual Fundraising Dinner. Today, we’ll take a moment to reflect on what was shared at the event.

Rev. Andy Bales is the CEO of the Union Rescue Mission, a private Christian homeless shelter located on Skid Row in Los Angeles that shelters 1,300 guests every night. His love and care for those experiencing homelessness is inspiring, but he readily admitted that he isn’t perfect!

Andy shared a story of when he was a teacher and gave a sermon to his classes on Matthew 25, hoping to deter them from bullying a classmate. The main take away from this lesson was Matthew 25:40, And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: whatever you did for the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Unfortunately, when a short time later he was presented an opportunity to live this out, Andy missed the chance.

He’s not alone, we’ve all missed moments when we were given the opportunity to live out our mandate “to care for the least of these.” Fortunately, those moments don’t define us or our ministry. We can learn from our mistakes and move forward, just as Andy has, continually renewing our heart and mind (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Steve Borja, the Vice President of Programs for the Union Rescue Mission also shared valuable stories and lessons for our community. Using valuable insights from the book of Nehemiah, he encouraged us in our efforts to work with government, city officials, businesses, churches, and others to accomplish our work in caring for those experiencing poverty. The wall of Jerusalem wouldn’t have been rebuilt in 52 days without partnership. It took the King of Persia to make sure Nehemiah had safe passage and was provided materials. Working on the wall there were priests, nobles, officials, goldsmiths, perfumers, guards, temple servants, and merchants each with different portions to work on.

It doesn’t matter our title or income when partnering to do the work of God. We are stronger together, but only when we remember whose power and authority we are under. When we collaborate, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of honoring ourselves, but the honor is due to our God. “The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty fifth day of the month of Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by God.” Nehemiah 6:15-16.