Walk about in freedom
Happy Fourth of July!
Because the country is celebrating Independence Day this weekend, we decided to use the July eNews to look at how Inner City Mission encourages and assists our residents to recognize and find freedom from those things that hold them in bondage.
We could think of no one better to explain this than Executive Assistant Donna Lomelino. Donna is a graduate of ICM’s Stability for Life program herself, and understands as well as anyone the difficulties our residents face as they struggle to shrug off the chains and walk into the light.
Donna speaks: another way
“How do we help residents find freedom? It starts with giving them a place to be themselves.
“When residents come in they put on their best face. There’s brokenness there, but you don’t see it. We give them the freedom to be themselves, and within three or four weeks it becomes clear what’s going on—you begin to see the issues that brought them to homelessness.
“No one walks in and says, ‘I’m in bondage to addiction,’ ‘I’m imprisoned by fear,’ or whatever. People don’t think that way. Maybe we get a resident who has ruined her life with alcohol, or a father who can’t hold a job because of anger issues. Maybe a woman comes in and she’s let a man control her her whole life. They don’t see these things as forms of slavery, to them it’s just the way things are.
“So we don’t request much of our residents at first. We give them a safe place and allow them to acclimate to the environment. We see how they interact with others and with the staff. The goal isn’t perfection, or getting them to conform.
“When they mess up—and they will because they are free to do that—it’s in a safe environment, and they are responded to with grace and forgiveness. That allows them to relax, so they can learn a new way.
“You don’t fix these issues overnight. There’s freedom in Christ, but just saying that isn’t going to mean anything on its own. It’s over time and by example, through the testimony of people who overcame situations as bad as their own or worse, that change comes.
“We teach the residents to study and read the Bible, teach them to talk with God, and get them to take the classes, but it’s really the relationships that develop that make the difference.
“One tool we don’t like to use, but it works, is that sometimes someone has to be asked to leave. One family was here, and the wife was put out for not following the rules. The husband and kids stayed.
“The mother came back before long with a whole different attitude. She went back to the “yuck” that was her old life and saw it for the prison that it was, because ICM had given her something better to compare it to. We showed her that she was in bondage and she chose freedom.”
The Butterfly Circus
Christ has set us free. So why does Paul warn us in Galatians 5:1 : “…do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ? Because human beings are so apt to pick that yoke off the ground and put it on voluntarily.
At the ICM Staff Retreat at Lake Springfield last week, we watched and discussed the short film, “The Butterfly Circus.” This video is available on YouTube, and it perfectly exemplifies how easily we fall into bondage while struggling to cope with the challenges and misfortunes of life, and how learning to see ourselves as God sees us can set us free.
“There’s this scene where the circus master tells a man he is ‘magnificent,’” Donna recounts. “The man spits in his face because he thinks he is being mocked.
“That’s a reaction we see taking place here at ICM. You tell someone you love them, that there is value in who they are, and it goes against everything they’ve ever been told. Our job is to be like the circus master in that film, remaining patient and helping people to see what God sees in them.”
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. – Psalm 119:45
Items gleaned from ICM's Facebook page that give a glimpse into the lives of Inner City Mission residents and staff.
1. Brooke has graduated grade school and is moving on to Middle School…great job!
2. The annual staff retreat at Lake Springfield Christian Assembly. Maybe we don’t want to know!
3. Some of the beautiful ladies from Taylorville Christian Church visited this month. Thanks for stopping by!
4. Tower Hill Christian Church stopped by to cook us a dinner, do some gardening and crafts with the kids, and enjoy some fellowship.
- Six new intakes this month! We thank God for the opportunity to shelter and get to know with these new residents, and pray they find peace, joy, and stability in life.
- Brandy and Leroy are working to get custody of their children. Two of those came to be here with their parents this month, praise God, and we look forward to hosting the rest of the family soon.
- Myrna advanced to the second stage of Stability for Life.
- Lanisha is registered to start college this autumn.
- Chris and Kelli need your prayers. This couple has grown so much with us. Currently their oldest daughter is in intensive care. The child needs physical and spiritual healing and the whole family needs to know we love them. We pray God will grant them peace and bring them through this trial stronger as a family.
- Gail is in a great deal of pain due to issues with her hip. We pray God provide a path forward to freedom from this pain.
- A prayer from Sarah Logan: “That God find a way to allow the expansion of ICM. I’ve witnessed so many children sleeping in cars outside lately. One couple came looking for shelter with a baby in only diapers and t-shirt, with nowhere to go.”
Here are the top needs of the shelter this month:
- Kid’s summertime snacks (individually packaged fruit snacks, chips, etc.)
- Paper Towels
- Coffee & Creamer
- Personals: Deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shaving razors
- Tall Kitchen trash bags (30 gal.) and extra large trash bags (55 gal.)
ICM gratefully accepts donated items any time at our North 7th Street shelter. For a complete list of our current needs (which is updated weekly), click here