DECEMBER 2021 NEWSLETTER
For many of us, the Christmas season can be a time of great discouragement, especially during a seemingly unending global pandemic. While we are inundated during the holidays with images, ads and expectations of joy, family and fulfillment, these same things that bring festivity and connection to some can bring increased feelings of isolation and aloneness to others. For those of us with significant challenges in our health, our lives or our families, Christmas can actually be the worst time of the year, highlighting our troubles and making us feel more alone than ever.
But there is hope, both for those of us in need and those of us who want to make a difference. I’ll never forget the Christmas I met a TRM guest who had just received a Christmas dinner and gifts for himself and his family. When I pulled up to the building I saw a man alone, sitting outside in the snow, and noticed he was crying. I walked up to him and asked if he needed help. He told me he was waiting on a friend to give him a ride.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” he said. “These are not tears of sadness - they’re tears of happiness.”
He told me what he was facing. Due to circumstances outside his control he had experienced great tragedy that year; he had lost his wife, his job, and his home. With nowhere else to turn, he had come to TRM with his children and had been staying with us for a few weeks. I asked if we had been able to help him.
Continuing to cry, he told me: “Absolutely. I had no idea people cared. I had no idea I would be able to give my children gifts, or food, or a good Christmas this year. We lost so much...I didn’t imagine I would ever have anything to give them again. But today I learned people actually care about us. I was able to give my children dinner and gifts and a good Christmas despite everything that’s gone wrong for us. And now I know...it’s not just me. Other people care about us too.”
I told him he was right - that there were people who loved him and his children, and that we would be here for them long after the Christmas season was over, whenever they needed us. We hugged right there in the snow, both of us cold and shivering but feeling nothing but warmth, connection, and hope.
At the Topeka Rescue Mission every day is special, but the Christmas season illuminates the message of hope. Hope that we’re not alone in this universe, hope that someone bigger than all our fears, doubts and problems really cares. Hope that in spite of our failures God sent His gift, His only Son, to show us the way to forgiveness, to healing, to salvation, to a future here and for eternity. And God uses people like you and me to reflect His Love with tangible acts of kindness that results in real hope. This simple story of one man and his children is one of thousands we have experienced here at TRM. More than just at Christmas, all throughout the year we are blessed to be able to give the gift of tangible hope.
For someone at the lowest point in their life, someone who has lost their home, their job, their security and even their hope for the future - what does tangible hope look like? When you have nothing, tangible hope becomes very simple. A warm, filling meal. A coat, scarf, or mittens when you’re cold. A shower and fresh change of clothes. A small handmade gift, just to let you know someone is thinking of you. A toy for a child, letting them know they are not forgotten. Someone to welcome you inside, into the warmth and kindness, rather than shutting the door against you like so many others have done.
At TRM we get to witness stories like this every day. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the details and the hard work we miss the reality that what we do is so individually impactful to the person who’s receiving our help. It’s not just about giving at Christmas because it’s Christmas - it’s about changing someone’s life at one of the hardest and most vulnerable times of the year.
We need hope in this time more than ever, and you have constantly, consistently helped us provide this hope to so many people in their darkest moments. You who care, pray, volunteer or give have helped us make a difference in thousands of lives like this man and his children. This Christmas season, with your continued help we will see once again, a difference made in the lives of TRM guests in our shelters, our homeless neighbors on the streets, and those with many needs throughout our community. It’s a stark reality that we could not do any of this without the blessings of a loving Creator and you. If not for you, thousands in our community would believe they are all alone. You are the army that brings tangible hope and stands with us at TRM, giving us strength and support in everything we do. You are the reason we get to continue making great changes in people’s lives.
This Christmas we pray that you are blessed in the same ways you have helped us bless so many others this year. We thank you, in this season more than ever, for the tangible hope you help us create in the lives of those in need!
† Barry Feaker Executive Director