Changing How We Operate

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An unfortunate new reality has been forced upon the Grants Pass Gospel Rescue Mission. The only service we will continue to offer to non-residents of the mission is that of becoming a resident. All food and shower services will now be for residents only. Men’s Coordinator Brian Bouteller explains the rationale behind this policy change.

Transcript of the above video:

So recently we’ve been asked the question, “Why are you discontinuing services to non-residents”? And, the easy answer is safety. Over the past four years we have witnessed a marked increase in both violence and the threat of violence coming into the doors of the Gospel Rescue Mission. As we ask non-residents to disarm themselves in order to partake in a meal or shower with us the weaponry has long moved from a simple pocket knife or box cutter to large sheathed blades, brass knuckles and even firearms. And what happens when this person refuses to hand over their weapons and refuses to leave the building? Can the police arrive before someone is either beaten, stabbed or shot? Maybe… but maybe not.

Add to your imagination a couple of stories, both of these things have happened within about the last 30 days. Have actually taken place here at the mission. The first one was, a couple of ladies go into the women’s shelter for food for dinner. They sit down in our dining hall which is already brimming with around thirty women and twenty five children. Suddenly they begin shouting filthy obscenities back and forth between themselves. When asked to stop they just become more unruly to the point that they are asked to leave, yet rather than leaving they run into some of the resident private quarters creating further disruption, panic and fear. The women were able to eventually get them to leave. Still, twenty five little children, many toddlers, whose mothers came to us seeking safety and shelter once again had to learn that adults can be frightening, dangerous and even unsafe.

The second story is a young man who comes to stay with us, who I’ve known for over about 8 years and this is the first time I’ve seen him go even 30, 40 days sober. He’s had a long standing
battle with methamphetamine and he comes in, he’s doing well finally. And so we’re so excited, he’s excited for being here and the clean time that he gets but because we have this free meal time where everybody gets to come in, he’s sitting down for dinner one day and one of his old drug buddies comes in and sits down next to him to have a meal with him. And of course as conversation gets going and “Hey, do you wanna go take a walk?” and sure they go out and they go for a walk, which ends up becoming a pressuring to get back into using and dealing drugs and so my young friend now, who had been doing so good, got some clean time has relapsed. So the question is, will he ever come back? Will he survive this time? And I don’t know. It’s hard to watch and it’s hard to see somebody that you’ve invested so much time in just get picked off so easily because we didn’t check at the doors.

And because there’s certain things at the door that I can’t even know. The thing is in neither of those stories were there any obvious warning signs. There’s no way of testing somebody to tell if they’re a predator. I can’t, I can’t blood test them..finger print them, any of those kinds of things so because I have no way of knowing these people have been allowed unfettered into our facilities for meals and showers in and amongst our residents who we’ve been committed to try and protect. So this has caused us to come to a spot where we’ve said, “Man, this is foolish to continue this way. And maybe something’s gotta change.”

The Gospel Rescue Mission is a covenant community. It’s a community of mutual agreement to a contract where we both commit to give our best to one another. Our offer of food, clothing, shelter, the Gospel and relative safety, is open to anyone who is willing to enter our residency program. Unfortunately it no longer makes sense to let our doors remain open unconditionally.
Even the Apostle Paul demanded restrictions on who was allowed into the Church, another covenant community, when he said, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

There are many sources of free food in the city of Grants Pass. Add SNAP benefits (food stamps), WIC, and local food pantries and the generosity of our fellow citizens and you quickly discover that there is no reason for anyone to ever be hungry in Grants Pass. All that said, there is no reason that those who come to the Mission to change their lives need to be further exposed to unruly individuals looking to further victimize them. We therefore are compelled to discontinue offering services to those not in our residency program. But we invite with open arms as many
as are willing and able to leave their homelessness and become residents here at the Grants Pass Gospel Rescue Mission.

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