by Leah Hay, Grant Writer, and Business Partnership Specialist:
More than 10 years ago I wondered if I could find common ground with a woman at Shepherd’s Door, our residential recovery program for women and children. Me, as a volunteer with an intact family, a college graduate, a churchgoer, and her with a heart-wrenching journey involving struggles such as addiction, loss of family, and much more—how would we even relate to one other?
As we sat down together, I asked her, “What brought you here?”
“Jesus!” She said while excitedly bouncing around in her chair. Then she shared the rest of her story.
I was stunned at the unfiltered, gospel truths spilling out of her and onto me, a total stranger. She had surrendered everything to claim a new life in Christ. She was unashamed in the sharing of her brokenness and instead, she confidently declared the praises of the God who rescued her. When it came to Jesus, she was ‘all in.’ Not only was Jesus our common ground, but so was the desire for peace.
Throughout the following years, hardship had a way of finding me. Life dulled my clean edges, but God was still at work in my soul. I fought for peace, I wanted my life to have more meaning, more purpose.
Years later when I was looking for work, a friend told me about a position at The Portland Rescue Mission. Without hesitation, I thought, that’s it! I wanted and needed to be in a place where I saw real people, messy faith, and genuine transformation. It was an opportunity to play a small part in contributing to something bigger and meaningful.
I’ve worked at Portland Rescue Mission for over two years now and it still grounds me. There is no pretending that life is perfect, it’s gritty and sometimes heartbreaking. But there is a lot of authenticity, a lot of hope, and there is peace because we offer real hope, not simply comfort. The men and women in the programs are my sisters and brothers, and I see now that there really isn’t that big of a gap between us after all. To be honest, I am here for myself as much as I am here for them.