The next few days we will be sharing stories from individuals at Central Union Mission. See at the bottom of the post for more information about this wonderful organization!
“I’ve lost everything,” said Marc. This is a sobering remark to hear from anyone, one that takes a well-hued sense of self and a profound degree of vulnerability to share. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Marc about his experience enduring a rough patch of life.
He told me, “It’s been a little bit over a year. I came here absolutely destitute and broken.” Candid about the circumstances that landed him at Central Union Mission, Marc shared that he has 20-plus years’ experience working in mass communication, including being the coordinating research producer on a top television show. However, evidently, some years ago as the Internet quickly developed into an easily-accessible means for in-depth research of various kinds, Marc’s position was rendered expendable and he was left scrambling to find new income.
He came to the District of Columbia in search of a new start, hoping to rekindle his career someplace “only to find out that at the age of 58, not a lot of companies are interested in taking someone [of my age] into an entry-level position.” Through an interconnected web of events, one after another, in no time he had arrived at a crossroads with nowhere to turn. But he would come to find a helping hand after all. In chatting with Marc you can’t help but notice how he beams with gratitude. He is humble and quick to give credit to those whom he feels walked with him during a time of deep need. “Since the day I walked through that door [at Central Union Mission], I have found the most welcoming and wonderful people that I did not even realize that people like that existed. They sort of, like, helped me mend back together.”
Started in 1884, that is precisely the kind of work that Central Union Mission does. And they do it well. With Marc, not to mention with many others, the client is now the employee. He said, “They actually paid for me to get my license and stuff, and so I’m the breakfast chef in the kitchen now.” Due to how so many people rallied around, empowering him with skills and encouragement, and nurturing him back to life, he feels beholden to pay it forward. “These people have taught me what Christian kindness is all about,” he pointed out. “I owe so much to these guys.
At one time or another we all forget to count our blessings and recognize the unpredictability, complexity, and mystery of life. Life is tough and tougher for some than others. Marc feels like a better version of himself now, thankfully. A work in progress for sure, but a more refined and grounded individual with a unique story and gifts to offer the world. He was happy to share the beauty of his transformation, saying, “The events that brought me here tested my faith, but…being here has restored my faith.”
Most of us don’t enjoy hardship. We are wise to avoid calamity as best as we can. But when dark nights and painful seasons come, and come they will, we can find help and healing in community. Marc is a witness to that. We would do well to be convicted and inspired by his perseverance.
Founded in 1884, Central Union Mission is a faith-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with seven locations throughout the Washington metropolitan area. In addition to its family ministries, the Mission operates an emergency shelter program, a rehabilitation program for men with life-controlling issues, a food, clothing and furniture distribution center, a retreat and recreation center with a camp for underprivileged children, programs for isolated seniors, computer and job training and transitional and low-cost housing. The Mission also offers work force development programing and literacy and educational training opportunities.
The Mission is continually developing its programs to meet the changing needs of the community. Its current programs serve homeless men, underprivileged women, children, seniors, families, and veterans.
One life at a time, the Mission works to help transform the area's toughest rehabilitation cases, including drug addicts, gang members, criminal offenders, and the chronically homeless into productive members of society. The Mission's programs have an extremely high success rate at helping individuals overcome addiction and homelessness, and achieve independent living.
Our work at Central Union Mission is to proclaim the Gospel, lead people to Christ, develop disciples and work to meet the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of the people we serve. We strive to always display a gracious, sincere spirit of integrity and Christian love in everything we do. By displaying excellence in all aspects of this ministry, we honor God and inspire the people we serve, our community, donors, volunteers and staff. Our motto is serving neighbors...changing lives.
Guest Writer: James Ellis
James Ellis leads Peace Fellowship Church located in Ward 7 of the District. He is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, and the University of Maryland. A writer at-heart, he enjoys blogging (via Day1 and The Huffington Post) and is the editor of Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil: Stories about the Challenges of Young Pastors. He loves lemonade and bowling, and showing people that introverts can be cool too.