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Lazara finds family, finds life at Shepherd’s Door

Lazara at her Service graduation with her kids.

Lazara at her Service graduation with her kids.

Family changed Lazara’s life at Shepherd’s Door.

Prior to coming to Portland Rescue Mission, all Lazara wanted was to be reunited with her children. Walking through our doors, she knew it would take some work. A lot of work. But, by God’s grace, two months after she entered our New Life Ministry for women and children she was back with her kids. Little did she know the transformation that would take place in her life was just getting started.

With full custody of her children, Lazara graduated from our New Life Ministry in what she refers to as “God’s greenhouse” at Shepherd’s Door. Upon graduation, she signed on for Service. Service is an optional second year in our New Life Ministries where residents can stay in the program, grow their vocational skills and take on additional leadership responsibilities).

“During this last year, I really got the opportunity to look around and see all the blessings this place had to offer. I was so blessed to work with people who are highly relational, Christ-centered servants,” Lazara explained. “It wasn’t like any other work experience that I have had in the past.

“It really helped me establish more of a foundation in Christ, and in my recovery. … It helped reiterate to me the beauty of what life in recovery can look like, and why long-term recovery and sobriety is worth the effort.”

Lazara spent her year of Service in our finance department honing her accounting skills, a degree she started working on years ago. It was the perfect job-training role for her future career plans.

“There’s so much stability and support here. The kids have loved it,” she said. “We’ve had a chance to build relationships here that we’re always going to have, and everyone here truly is our family … Shepherd’s Door has been so good for us.”

new life ministries, new life ministry, shepherd's door

Lazara and JonMarie Purvis, Accounting Manager for Portland Rescue Mission.

Lazara has found herself particularly touched by the generosity and spirit of the volunteers she’s had the pleasure of interacting with.

“To see all the volunteers that come here faithfully, some twice a week, every single week is so cool,” she said. “The world can look really hopeless sometimes, but when you see these volunteers and meet the staff here, you can’t help but see how much good there is in the world we’re living in right now. ”

Family … it’s altered everything for Lazara—along with something else that goes even deeper.

“Before I even knew Jesus I wanted to be a whole person. Now, I not only realize who I am in God, but I am a whole person … and my hope has been restored,” she described. “Shepherd’s Door has shown me what family is supposed to be like. It’s shown me what unconditional love and the love of Christ looks like and how He’s working through everyone here.

“I’m living a new life. It’s awesome … Thank you.”


Deuteronomy 30:19-20This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Isaiah 61:3[He has sent me to…] provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.