‘Tis the Season
For many, the Christmas season is a season of joy! This is by design. When the birth announcement was made by a spokes-angel of the angelic host to a few lowly shepherds over 2000 years ago, their message was one of great joy! “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people.” God so loved His creation—specifically those He created in His image and likeness—that He wanted, and wants, the very best for us! Good News! Great joy! For all the people!
It should not be overlooked that this message was delivered to shepherds on third shift, most likely the least desired and lowest position. But that was intentional on God’s part to show He was serious about this message being good news of great joy for all the people.
And yet in our world today, and especially in Central Wisconsin, we find that the large majority of people are living either oblivious to the good news, or in rejection of the good news, which means they have anything but great joy! But all of you have contributed to reversing this phenomenon. Your support of Bridge Street Mission, via your donations of time, resources, and funds have given the mission an opportunity to bring this good news of great joy to people—who are part of “all the people”—who desperately need it. Some have recognized their need and have received the good news. Others have heard it and are still under the delusion that it is not good news and it’s too boring to bring great joy! And yet, they are here at Bridge Street Mission because reality has shown them their way does not work. It hasn’t resulted in good news or great joy.
As we finish the year, God has graciously prepared the way for an exciting new year! We recently were awarded a grant of $15,000 by Connexus Cares to further address homelessness in our area by establishing a twelve bed 30-day shelter. This is good news of great joy for them! And it provides for their current physical need, so that we –staff and volunteers—can share the good news of great joy that addresses their spiritual need, a need some do not yet realize they have. Yes, the good news of great joy for all the people—news and joy we celebrate in this season—is that there has been born for us a Savior, who is Christ the Lord! Our prayer is that you all have experienced this good news of great joy—that Jesus Christ is your Savior and Lord!
Again, your contributions of time, effort, resources, and funds will be used to continue the announcement that the shepherds heard so long ago in the field one special night!
|November 2019 Newsletter
PSSSST! I just wanted to clue you all in; Jesus is living at Bridge Street Mission. You say, “What?”. No, really, He is living here! And here is your chance to serve Him!
Here is what we read in Matthew 25:34-40 with a paraphrase for emphasis > “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine [at Bridge Street Mission], even the least of them, you did it to Me.”
Those of you who have partnered with us via donations of food, service time, and money, the King is pleased! You may not even have realized that ultimately, He was the beneficiary of your generosity! He thanks you and we thank you!! [By the way, look how God has used you: one of the men in our program just accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord at our Music Night in October (October 8, 2019)] To God be the glory!! Yes, you were a part of that in the big picture!!
On another note, a lady who has been delivering meals-on-wheels to our building for years, stopped by the office and stated that she has seen a notable difference at the program center over the past few months. She said it is cleaner and quieter, and the presence of God can be felt. Again, to God be the glory!
If the passage in Matthew stopped at verse 40, we’d all be off the hook in a way. But it continues as follows, again with a paraphrase for emphasis: (v. 41-45) “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ Then He will answer them ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these [at Bridge Street Mission], you did not do it to Me.’
The implication here is that if they had known it was Jesus who was hungry or thirsty, or naked or sick, they would have acted. Bridge Street Mission affords the opportunity to love on our Lord Jesus Christ via loving on the homeless and the addicted, part of the “least of these” community. We would not want anyone to respond like this last group in Matthew 25, and miss out on caring for “the King”.
We are not the only ones reaching the “least of these” in our community; there is the Hope Life Center, Salvation Army, and sundry others. But the Lord is looking to us as His children to care for those that are the “least of these”, who are near and dear to His heart. How are you loving on the “least of these”?
In His service—by His grace and for His glory,
Todd Van Ryn
Interim Executive Director
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and be brought up-to-date on what is happening at Bridge Street Mission. As you know, our desire is to engage, encourage and edify the hurting, homeless and those battling addictions of our community, helping them realize who God created them to be through the transformative power of Jesus Christ. We value your compassionate partnership, and we know He values it even more!
October and November are “count-down” months for our ministry, as we gear up for the increasing numbers of hurting souls who need our help as the weather chills. There is Thanksgiving, there is Christmas – holidays that can be a struggle for many of the individuals who reach out for our (and your) help.
As you may know, toward the end of Jesus’ physical ministry on earth, in the days leading up to the cross, He made a statement that I have often found intriguing. When there was concern among the disciples who questioned Mary’s exorbitant display of affection for the Lord Jesus, as she “bathed” His feet with some very expensive perfume. The comment was made that a better use of the funds she used to procure the perfume would have been to donate it for the poor, Jesus defends her actions as preparing His body for burial, and proclaiming wherever the gospel would go forth, what she had done would be made known as well. I’m sure Mary never had said recognition in mind when she expressed her love for the Lord Jesus in such a practical way; and such an extravagant and costly way. And yet her love for Him made such action reasonable—the right thing to do! Jesus then says, “The poor you will always have with you!”
I find that intriguing, yet obvious. A quick review of the Old Testament accounts, as well as teaching of the Psalms and Proverbs, shows us that the poor—the needy, the afflicted, the sick, the oppressed, etc, were very much on God’s heart. We also see that Jesus, in whom God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in bodily form—who was God is flesh, we see that His life was consistent with this aspect of God. Look at who He hung out with? The lame, the infirmed, the possessed, the leprous, the blind, the deaf, the paralytic, the homeless, the addicted—even the disciples, all of which were poor. The fact that the poor will always be with us is intentional on God’s part so that we always have an arena in which He can use us to make Himself known–He can use us to communicate His love for them in a practical way.
Understanding this about my God and Father adds some conviction to some of the statements we find in Proverbs. I’ll just list two for you now:
- “One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.” Proverbs 19:17
Did you ever think about lending to the Lord? You know He is good for it; you know He will pay it back…and with generous interest. Talk about a wise investment! I am sure anyone and everyone would jump at that. And yet, He tells us how to do it, and we don’t! It’s like we say, “Oh, that’s what He means.
- “He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be answered.” Proverbs 21:13
Often our thought process is we’re too smart, too good, too diversified, too educated, to ever find ourselves poor. We look down on the poor, while thinking that if they really wanted to, they could get out of the position they are in. It would never happen to us. We ignore their cries for help, their pleading eyes; we look away because we can’t stomach what they are about. This verse is a God-breathed promise; we need to take it seriously.
We are also in the early stages of launching the 30-day shelter program, the 8-month Sober Living initiative, and the 2-year mentor program, for which there are still needs that must be met before January 1, 2020.
As we count down the days toward the holidays and our official launch, would you lend to the Lord by sharing a generous gift with Bridge Street Mission? Whatever you can give will be so appreciated; and we know that He will richly repay you! It is an “out-of-this-world” investment that pays eternal dividends; the value never crashes. Thank you in advance for your partnership with us, and your investment in kingdom work!
In His service—by His grace and for His glory,
Todd Van Ryn
Interim Executive Director
Speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:15-16
The apostle Paul penned those words about 2,000 years ago, but what he said was timeless. We function best in community and only thrive if we work together for the good of each other. We could live on an island by ourselves, but we could never truly live well, alone and without the collaboration of others. God in His sovereign wisdom created us with unique talents and gifts to benefit others, both in practical life and spiritually.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
Is everyone a builder, a doctor, and also a teacher? Of course not. We’re each uniquely talented and equipped for the job God gave us to do. In the church (the Body of Christ), we have some who preach, some who care for those in need, some who pray much, some who contribute financially, and so forth.
At Bridge Street Mission, it’s a blessing to see employees, volunteers, and our guests working and serving together for each other’s good. At our best, we function in unison, as one body. No matter the task, someone is always better gifted towards that responsibility, and as they step forward to help, the whole mission is positively affected.
We’re thankful for your role in this ministry, in the Body of Christ.