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A Happy Exchange… Re-uniting Ken with Family

Because of my role at the Mission I’m often asked math questions (good thing I got a barely passing “D” in my high school Algebra 2 class).  “What’s a resident’s average length of stay?…  What percentage of the homeless population is homeless because of drugs?…  How many are there because of mental health issues?…  What is your success rate?”  Folks are just fascinated with numbers.  I’m always tempted to ask, what number could I give that would compel you to become further involved in supporting the work we do?  Because the truth is that people arrive at the Mission in the strangest, almost impossible to quantify, of ways.  Ken’s arrival was no exception.

Like many arrivals to the Mission, Ken showed up in a taxi cab.  He was very disoriented.  He wasn’t sure who paid for his cab fare, or decided to send him to the Mission.  He was using a walker as he came in and said he had been at the bus station for hours.  He remembered having a stroke in January of 2017 and receiving some sort of treatment form a hospital in Florence before being sent to Grants Pass, where he apparently lived prior to the stroke.  The thing was… he couldn’t remember nearly anything about his life before having the stroke.

What can you do with a 58-year-old man, with no income, who’s health is compromised to a point that he needs a walker to get around, and has lost contact with all his relatives?  Ken seemed sincere and had a soft demeanor that made him easy to want to support.  He was very compliant and eager to help wherever he was physically able, so we began building a plan together with the intent of seeing him become as independent as possible.  This would be no easy task.

Over the next several months Men’s Coordinator, Mike Quigley, was able to help Ken get re-enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, get on the HUD waiting list, receive SNAP benefits (food stamps), get connected with a physical therapist, meet with Vocational Rehabilitation, and apply for Social Security Disability.  We discovered he had a vehicle here in Grants Pass that had many of his belongings, including pictures of his daughters, but still no contact information for any family members.  No matter how much care, energy, and love you pour out, sometimes the vacuum left in a person that’s missing their family is just that… a hole left where a loved part of you once was.  You could tell that there was a sense in Ken that something was missing and out of order, but his memory wouldn’t help him.

Fortunately, God has made us in fearful and wonderful ways.  One afternoon, during a 30-day review of Ken’s stay, he makes a surprising comment in passing that he has a sister!  What’s even better is that he can remember her name.  Our quick-thinking Coordinator, Clyde Bergquist, decides to look her name up on social media, and there she was!  It turns out that they had lost contact since 2004 and in fact the primary reason she was on Facebook was in hopes that he might find her someday.  In mere moments they were speaking on the phone and within 24 hours Elizabeth was on her way to pick Ken up and take him home to care for him and live with her.

Neither tears or even pictures can express the surreal reunion of loving siblings who have been apart for far too long.  Recognizing your place inside a circle of love and compassion, that only days before you had imagined and felt yourself excluded from, is a powerful moment.  This was holy ground, and everyone knew it.  Even though I’m not great at math, I am certain that broken lives plus loving family equals hope and healing.

The work of the Gospel Rescue Mission is filled with moments like this, both large and small.  Miracles that make up why we get up every day and come to work, and I wish we always had the presence of mind to have a camera or a microphone on and recording to share them with our donor family.  This one was just too good not to share.  It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to accomplish these things, and there is no way we could do any of this without your trust and support.  If you already give to the Mission, please feel my deepest thanks and gratitude.  If you don’t yet support the work of the Gospel Rescue Mission, would you please prayerfully consider a gift today?  God is working out His change in the lives of men, women and children, every day at the Mission, and with your help we will continue to be here well into the future.

Brian Bouteller

About Brian Bouteller

Brian Bouteller is the Mission's Director of Resident Services.


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