"Give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds" Psalm 107:8
A Growing Strength
We are thankful for many exciting things that have happened this year as we have transitioned to a new location and experienced so much growth and support. In honor of the Thanksgiving Holiday, we wanted to share about two people God has put in our path. The first is our Associate Director Daniel Cotton. As soon as we met with Daniel, we knew he was the perfect fit for Strong Life Ministries. Daniel has a heart to serve and a call to minister. He is certainly an encouragement and blessing to our ministry.
As reveled in the story below, we have the privilege of being an accessible resource to people in their time of need. We serve those who come to us by connecting them to the appropriate next step or resource. Often, these are physical resources such as housing, staffing agencies, medical care, and more. But sometimes, we get the privilege of pointing those we help to the next step spiritually.
A Beautiful Redemption
The second person we are thankful for is Kristen. She came to Strong Life Rescue Mission in late October seeking help with transportation. She shared her recent desire to seek God and how she wanted to get connected to a church. Daniel invited her to visit his church and she came the following Sunday. There Kristen met Daniel’s grandparents (pictured above), who took her out to eat after the service. They shared with Kristen about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and Kristen prayed to receive Christ!
Kristen is now connected with a Bible study at her church and is mentored by Daniel’s grandparents. She is growing stronger in life and her relationship with God. We are so thankful for how God has worked in Kristen’s life! It was evident that God had already put a spiritual hunger in her heart, and we here at Strong Life Ministries got to play a small part in God’s redemptive plan for her life. Please join us in thanking God for His kindness and mercy to Kristen! This challenges us with two questions. Who has God placed in your path so you can have a small role in His larger plan for them? Secondly, what and who are you thankful for this day?
We at Strong Life Ministries would like to ask you to remember us this holiday season, whether in prayer or conversation, as you continue to advocate for us in the community. Please see our website www.stronglifenc.org or give us a call at 828-994-4321 for more information.
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands" (Psalm 90:17)
At Strong Life we have been blessed with some wonderful volunteers who have helped us tremendously as we have transitioned to our new location this past year. We are incredibly grateful for all those who have given their time and effort to help us better serve the homeless community. This past month, there were several groups that exemplified a heart to serve and put in some hard work to enrich Strong Life. These groups greatly helped us to become stronger and more organized. This allows us to more effectively serve those in need.
Here are a few examples of the work groups have done at Strong Life: A Bible study group came and built two small sheds to give us much needed space for winter storage. A corporate team of volunteers came and sorted hundreds of pounds of clothing and blankets. They also built a winter coat rack that can hold over 50 coats! A youth group came and helped reorganize and stock our food pantry. An Eagle scout helped direct a beautification project that added three flower beds to our landscaping.
Ready to Work
The hard work of these volunteers frees us up to focus on guiding our clients into the work force. Edward came to us destitute after being unable to find work and pay the fees at a rehab home in the area. He was newly homeless and needed direction.
We spent time counseling Edward and laid out a path towards employment. We pointed him to a nearby staffing agency and recommended certain companies that would be a good fit for him. We took him to his interview and after he was hired, we gave Edward a ride to orientation. We also connected him to the HOPE project for sustainable transportation to his job. At the end of the process, we had the great privilege of buying Edward a new pair of work boots. We are happy to say that Edward has been working for a week now! He is grateful for the opportunity. Please join us in thanking the Lord for his work in Edward’s life.
Those who volunteer here at Strong Life are tilling the soil, and we pray for a fruitful harvest to come from their efforts. We are thankful that the Lord is faithful to bring that fruit from the work of our hands.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-994-4321. We will be glad to place you on our volunteer list or talk with you about group volunteering options.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy" (Romans 15:13a)
Helping the homeless find their way home
Sometimes we all need to hear someone did well. We want to see that a situation is improving and that people are heading in the right direction. At Strong Life Ministries, we get to experience good news every day. We hope these three stories encourage you. Please note, names have been changed to protect the identities of our friends.
Tony was young and scared when he arrived in Hickory, NC. He was traveling with the carnival, had lost his identity, and ended up in the hospital. After he was released, we were able to be part of Tony's journey. We ordered him a birth certificate, helped him get much needed medication, and counseled him daily. We helped him find some odd jobs and guided him to a safe path. After a couple of months of counseling and investing in Tony, we were able to provide a bus ticket that reconnected him with his family and support system. Tony is excited for the fresh start and opportunity to be reunited with his parents.
A New Beginning
Jerry came to us from a hotel and was completely hopeless. He had been banned from at least five hotels in the Hickory area due to drug use and his behavioral issues that seemed to follow. He had a broken heart that wanted to do the right thing, but it seemed everyone had given up on him. Jerry started camping in the woods and coming to see us daily. After spending a couple of months ministering to Jerry, we helped him transition to Hebron Colony Men’s Recovery Program in Boone. This program is dedicated to helping men overcome addiction. Jerry has found much success in the program and is about to graduate.
Ronald is a veteran. He was released from the hospital after recovering from an overdose that left him in a coma for months and restricted to a wheelchair. During counseling, Ronald sought out a fresh commitment to God. Within the next few weeks, he obtained his military ID and connected to case management. Ronald is now out of his wheelchair walking tall. He is 20 months sober, smiling, and looking for housing. Ronald's spiritual, physical, and emotional healing has been an encouragement to many.
Paul says in Romans 15:13, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is a gift to be able to share hope with someone who has become hopeless. Take courage today to be the gift of hope for someone you bump into that may need it more than you realize.
We all need hope. Please know that Strong Life Ministries is here to show that hope to others. If you are interested in joining us on this mission, contact us by phone 828-994-4321 or email email@example.com.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger." (John 6:35)
A Hope for the Hungry
At Strong Life Rescue Mission, there is a small room of great importance. It’s called the snack room. To those in our community that suffer from food insecurity, it is a place they can trust to find something to eat. Needless to say, we strive to keep this room stocked with ready-to-eat snacks.
Over the years, we have been blessed by businesses, churches, and individuals who understand the value of the snack room. Piedmont Vending has generously given food donations for nearly eight years. We are grateful that Pastor David Stikeleather takes the time to deliver these donations every week. Mt. View United Methodist Church has faithfully collected and delivered food for several years. With these partners, we have been able to provide a comfort and glimpse of hope to many in the form of a snack.
These donations also allow us to offer snack bags for folks that may not be able to make it to their next meal opportunity. They provide some quick groceries for someone living in their car or someone who just moved into a place of their own. We freely share with other organizations around Hickory that serve clients who can benefit from the snacks. It is out of this small snack room that we can speak of God's faithfulness as it has NEVER ran out.
At Strong Life Rescue Mission, one can often find a fridge stocked with sandwiches or a kitchen counter offering pastries from a local bakery. Around lunch, a wonderful aroma fills the house as a volunteer from The Corner Table stops by to deliver hot meals for everyone. We all know physical food is important. Let's not forget the true value of spiritual food as well. In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger". A vital part of the Rescue Mission is to have a morning and afternoon devotional. This provides hope, encouragement, and guidance for folks at some of the lowest points of their lives. It offers an opportunity to partake in spiritual food.
We look to Jesus and His Word to be spiritually filled and encourage all to go to Him daily. We hope to encourage you with these lessons from our humble snack room. If we are faithful to give, it will be replenished. And, as we all hunger physically, we have a spiritual hunger as well. If we do not fill this spiritual hunger in the correct way, we will try to partake of things that will leave us empty.
Please pray for Strong Life as we continue to feed those who have a physical and spiritual hunger in our community. For more information, please contact John Hays at 828-994-4321 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1:14 ESV)
You've got mail!
Strong Life is excited to say that our mail center is open! The Freeland Mail Center has been years in the making. In the past, clients at our old location often asked if they could receive mail there, and they always received the same response: “When we move to a more secure location, we hope to offer mail services.”
That day has finally come! We have developed a secure and efficient way for our clients to receive State ID’s, Birth Certificates, Social Security and Medicaid Cards, and other important documents that come in the mail.
This process is a vital part of helping those in the homeless community get the basic information they need to get back on their feet. It is an important first step in obtaining work, housing, and other services needed for their particular situation. Also, since people don’t have to travel across town to check on their mail, this cuts down on the time required for our case management services at Strong Life, allowing us to more quickly give referrals and make appointments.
Here when it counts
July 5th was celebrated as an extra holiday for most. We celebrated a different way here at Strong Life, recognizing the greatest gift we could give to those in the homeless community was to just be present. We started the day by picking up two van loads of folks from the Salvation Army so they could come enjoy a cookout with us. We enjoyed hamburgers on the grill, backyard games, and just being together.
The experience served as a great reminder that most often in life the greatest gift we can give is just to be present for others. One of the greatest things Jesus promised in Hebrews 13:5 was that He would never leave nor forsake those that followed after Him. We feel that one of the most powerful ways that we can show a picture of Christ and His love to our clients at Strong Life is to simply be there for them in community.
Would you please help us continue to make this happen? We need the friends of this ministry to get the word out to others who might be interested in volunteering with Strong Life so that we can expand our availability to the homeless community. Would you please take the time to forward this newsletter to those who might help?
For more information about volunteering, please contact John Hays at 828-994-4321 or email us at email@example.com.
"Tell my people to go forward." (Exodus 14:15)
Tony finds work, reconnects with family
Tony Therasse has seen some dark times in the past year. Living on the streets, staying at the Salvation Army, and couch-surfing marked a challenging time in his life.
More recently, Tony has been seeing some positive movement. He landed a steady job driving for Yellow Cab twelve hours a day, five days a week. He also became a part of Strong Life’s Men’s Program, living in the on-campus transitional house since it opened in April. These are bright spots shining in Tony’s life currently.
He has continued to face challenges, however. Because he relied on public transportation to travel to and from work, his twelve-hour shifts made it difficult at times to get enough sleep. Further, it limited the time he could spend with his three sons, ages 9, 12, and 13.
Pastor John Hays, Strong Life’s Executive Director, wanted to help. “Tony has been a model resident, closely following all the rules and guidelines,” Pastor John said. “We wanted to assist him with the next step toward independence. The thing that he really needed was a car.”
As it happened, one of Strong Life’s ministry supporters had a functioning used car that they no longer needed and was willing to sell it for a discounted price. So last week, Tony found his life taking another positive move when he became the owner of a new-to-him 2002 Chevy Malibu.
“I’m so grateful,” Tony said. “Not only for the car, but for everything the ministry has done. Without Strong Life, I would still be out there on the streets. But now, my life is going in a whole different direction. Best of all, I’m getting to spend some quality time with my kids.”
Tony is just one of the lives being dramatically impacted by what God is doing through Strong Life Ministries. Your prayers and support are powerfully advancing the Lord’s Kingdom in Catawba County.
Opportunities to Serve
If you are looking for an opportunity to fulfill Christ’s call to serve Him through ministering to the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40), please consider the opportunities currently available at Strong Life Ministries:
Thank you so much for your prayers and continued support. You are the means that the Holy Spirit uses to fuel the work that Strong Life is doing within Catawba County's homeless community!
Pastor John Hays
"For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building." (1 Corinthians 3:9)
Renovation, repair, and new life are all themes of the work that takes place here at Strong Life Ministries. Our goal is to serve as a place those who have been deeply damaged by the turmoil of this world can rebuild and begin anew. One of the ways we do that is to make laptop computers available for those who are seeking to apply for employment, fill out necessary forms, or further their education.
Recently, one of our clients used a Strong Life laptop to enroll in an online degree program. Beginning this summer, Lisa will start the journey toward a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration! Another of our clients, Andre, used a laptop to find a job opening at Wingstop, complete the online application, and schedule an interview. Now, he’s a full time employee! Way to go Lisa and Andre! (Editor’s note: names have been changed to protect privacy.)
Building Our Campus
At the same time that Strong Life is helping rebuild people, we are rebuilding parts of our campus. The building that houses our Rescue Mission was designed as a single-family structure. It is now being used to provide restrooms, laundry, and showers for as many as 30 people a day. Not surprisingly, the existing septic system is insufficient to support these services. We are now having to run over 350 feet of new underground line in order to connect to the City of Hickory sewer system. This is one of many reconstruction projects that Strong Life has faced in its ongoing efforts to build and rebuild structures and lives that will make a difference for all eternity.
Support Strong Life This Month
As many of you know, whether it is a new building or renovations, construction is expensive! Would you prayerfully consider partnering financially with Strong Life as we work to build the Kingdom of God among the homeless in Catawba County?
Most people in America take for granted their access to toilets, showers, and laundry. This is not the case for the people we serve. By making these basic necessities available, this is one of the tangible ways we demonstrate Christ’s love. The plumbing project is essential if we are to continue to do this. But at this point, it is not fully paid for. We need your help to complete the work.
Also, the laptops we allow our clients to use have seen better days. At times they move very slow, and sometimes they freeze and have to be restarted. If you have a laptop in good working order that you are not using or are ready to replace, would you consider donating it to our ministry? You can be certain that it will continue to be put to good use helping people rebuild broken lives.
To assist with these projects, or to make a donation toward our ministry’s general fund:
Public Invited to Open House on April 11
The homeless community has a variety of needs on a number of levels. There are physical needs such as food, shelter, and clothing. There are life needs such as assistance with replacing ID’s and finding jobs. There are spiritual needs such as having an opportunity to hear the Word of God and receive Christian counseling.
For nearly ten years, Strong Life Rescue Mission has been working to meet all of these needs and more. Through the Life House facility located next to the Salvation Army Center on Lenoir-Rhyne Blvd., Hickory’s homeless have seen the love of Jesus consistently put on display.
Now, with the acquisition of the new property on Fairgrove Church Road, Strong Life is positioned to dramatically expand its existing services. Beginning this month, a much-needed additional ministry will be offered: Strong Life Men’s Transitional Program.
One of the greatest challenges faced by those who wish to come out of homelessness is finding a supportive environment that not only offers the resources they need to go on that journey, but removes them from the various harmful influences and temptations that they face regularly on the street. The new Transitional Program does just that.
A separate home on the new property has been renovated to provide supervised, structured living for ten men. These men will be carefully screened, gainfully employed, and dedicated to making the right choice it takes to succeed in their shift toward productive citizenship.
Come join us on Sunday, April 11 at the Strong Life Men’s Program Open House and see for yourself this exciting next stage in the ministry’s development. You can tour the facility, meet some of the first residents, and learn first-hand how your support of Strong Life is making a lasting difference in the lives of Hickory’s homeless.
Drop-in hours for the Open House are 2:00 – 5:00 pm at 1211 Fairgrove Church Rd. SE, Conover, NC 28613.
Support Strong Life This Month
One of the subjects in our morning devotions this past month has been the life of Abraham. God called Abraham to step out and trust Him on a long, challenging, and sometimes perilous journey into faith. In the same way, these men are heading out of homelessness, trusting that God will accompany them and make a way through their wilderness.
It is only through your prayers and support that Strong Life is able to partner with these men as they move out of darkness into light. Would you prayerfully consider being a part of that work this month?