True-life Stories of God’s Provision Through You! May/June 2017. Soup for your Soul

Breaking the Cycle

“I love the book of Job,” says Lakesha, a 29-year-old mother of three, living at Joy House. “Job didn’t do anything wrong, but he lost everything. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. And I can relate to that.”

Lakesha’s mother, a drug addict, gave her up for adoption when she was 7. Her new family raised her in church and tried to do the right thing, she says. But the unthinkable happened when someone outside the home molested her for the next four years.

“I went from being this fun, socially active kid to being completely withdrawn and depressed,” she says. “I never told anyone. They just thought I was a troubled kid who could never do anything right.”

Lakesha started drinking and became sexually promiscuous in high school. “I was looking for love in all the wrong places,” she recalls. “I didn’t have any friends. The only way I could feel connected to someone was through sex. I thought love was sex.”

The pattern was set. Lakesha had her first child at 18 and spent the next 10 years in and out of abusive relationships with men. “It was the same cycle, over and over,” she says.

Finally, in the summer of 2016, unable to support herself and her three children, she came to Joy House. “I knew that if the cycle was going to stop, something had to change,” she says. “Joy House is giving me the chance to focus on me and God. Before, I always thought I could handle it myself. But I can’t. The counseling and the Bible studies are helping me see my strengths and weaknesses, build better boundaries with people and change the cycle.”

“Before I came here, I believed a lot of lies about myself. The Book of Job helped me realize I don’t need to believe the lies. I’ve made a lot of bad choices, but now I’m learning who I really am so I can make better ones. Job encourages me to stay strong and keep going. I’m really grateful for the donors who gave me this chance.”

Leaving the Past Behind

“I was a serious gang member,” says Paul, a 37-year-old guest at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. “As an enforcer, I didn’t play around with no one. It was all about pain. I didn’t care who you were —  family, friend, stranger — if you got in my way, it was bad. If you owed me something, I was going to get it in any way possible.”

Paul knew all about pain as a child. “My father was a drunk and beat me up all the time,” he recalls. “It was so traumatic, I developed a serious speech impediment when I was 2, and after that, I got picked on all the time. I learned pretty early how to fend for myself.”

Unable to find love and acceptance at home or school, Paul found what he longed for in gang life. “Gangs gave me clothes, money, a place to live — everything a family should have given me. But they also showed me the wrong way to live.”

Between 2010 and 2013, Paul went to prison three times for assault and battery. The last time, however, something clicked. “I knew if I kept going, I was going to end up dead,” he says. “So I left that life behind me. But then I got addicted to drugs.”

In January of 2016, homeless with nowhere else to go, Paul came to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. “Something was calling me,” he says. “Here was my chance to get it right. It was the best choice of my life. It’s been tough, but I put my trust in the Lord and He opened my eyes to see who I really am. I try to stay humble and keep everything in prayer. And I’ve learned to forgive, to let go of the past, and live for the future.

“The people who support this place are amazing. Thank you!”

Every day, your gifts help provide more than 800 meals to hungry men, women and children.

Hundreds of mothers and children find safety and healing because of your support.

Up to 400 homeless neighbors find safe shelter every night — thanks to you!

Your generosity means that hundreds of at-risk children get the academic, emotional and spiritual support they need to grow up and live healthy, productive lives . . . while men and women receive educational and vocational direction, all on the foundation of Jesus Christ.

This summer, more than 100 kids will attend City Camp, receiving nutritious meals and experiencing loving care, spiritual lessons, academic instruction — and fun! — through your thoughtful giving!

Make a Lasting Investment in Transforming Lives

Visit to find out how your planned gift can provide help and hope to struggling neighbors for years to come.

Attention Golfers!

Calling all golfers! Doesn’t matter if you’re a golf pro or a weekend hacker, we’d love to see you at our annual golf outing, “18 Holes for the Homeless,” on September 25 at Blue Mound Golf and Country Club. Your participation will help provide hope and care to struggling neighbors in our community by raising awareness and funds to help those who come through our doors for sanctuary.

For more information, contact or call 414-935-0205.

The Gift of Transformation!

One of the most powerful gifts you can give someone is one that transforms his or her life forever. Meals, clothing, shelter, life-changing programs — browse through our online Gift Catalog at, and help change the life of a homeless man, woman or child at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission. Then print out a certificate to send to a friend or relative in your life to let them know your gift was given in their honor!

Give Today and Double
Your Gift’s Impact!

Hurting men, women and children who come to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission desperately need hope and a helping hand — in fact, they need YOU! And now, thanks to a generous group of friends who recently contributed a $266,000 Matching Challenge Gift, every donation we receive in May will be combined with the Match. That means any gift you send will be DOUBLED in impact — automatically — to provide twice as much help for struggling neighbors, and to remind them that someone really does care. This extraordinary opportunity is only available for a short time — please give by May 31!

Empathy for Hurting People

Dear Friend,

“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.”
 — Ephesians 3:17-19 (NIV)

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

It’s not always easy to empathize with people we meet. Most of the time when we encounter someone, we see only the surface, where they are at a moment in time. But how well do we really understand them?

Take Lakesha and Paul, both featured in this issue of Soup for your Soul. On the surface, you’d see two hurting people who’ve made bad decisions in their lives, decisions that led to addiction, violence, prison, loneliness and homelessness. But if that’s all you knew, you wouldn’t truly understand them.

Empathy is hearing someone’s story, his or her entire story, and trying to understand it. It’s not just knowing the decisions they made, but understanding what may have led them to those decisions. Because when you understand the painful traumas of their childhoods, the rejection and regret they endured as adults, only then can you begin to relate to them, to empathize with them.

That’s when you begin to understand that if you had experienced what they had, your life would probably look much the same. That’s why we tell the stories of these extraordinary men and women in our newsletters. When you understand their stories, you begin to understand that we might look different, or come from different backgrounds, but we’re really not so different. We all have the same needs. Our stories may look different. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

That’s what sets caring, compassionate people like you apart. As a supporter of the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, you demonstrate real empathy all the time. You read the stories of these hurting men, women and children — and you understand. You care. On behalf of all those we serve, thank you for all you do.


Patrick H. Vanderburgh

Patrick H. Vanderburgh, D.Min.