Mission Statement: Partnering with the community to serve those who are in crisis to restore them to freedom and purpose through the transforming power of the Gospel.
Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee, Oklahoma has been helping those experiencing hunger, homelessness and hopelessness since 1931. From the beginning, our non-denominational organization has been built on faith. Founded in the worst years of the Great Depression and forged in the heart of the Oklahoma dust bowl, we have demonstrated steadfast grit and have helped tens of thousands in crisis situations. Gospel Rescue Mission is the only walk-in overnight shelter option in a five-county area, open to men, women and children.
Since our founding, Gospel Rescue Mission has held to our original purpose providing food, shelter, and emergency assistance to those in crisis. We unapologetically share the true hope of the Gospel to all who come through our doors. Supported completely by churches and individual donations, we accept no government funds so that we remain free to proclaim the truth of God's Word. While our message has not changed, we have recently expanded our goals to include total restoration of the individual experiencing hunger, homelessness and hopelessness; not just a hand-out, but a hand-up out of addiction and the cycle of poverty.
Gospel Rescue Mission serves not only those in a crisis of homelessness but those who live in poverty. In Muskogee Cherokee, McIntosh and Okmulgee Counties, over 22.2% of the population is living under the federal poverty line. The restoration programs that we are developing will focus on restoring individuals, families and the community to health physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. We will give families a safety net not dependent on government funding, but that relies on dignity derived from work well done, volunteerism, and vibrant church connection. GRM firmly believes it is possible to build a better and more sustainable safety net than government programs can provide.
Our services are free to anyone who comes through the door. People in poverty can access a hot meal and a safe place to sleep at any time. In addition to overnight guests, GRM also hosts a “Community Meeting ” every Thursday morning. During these times, community members come and learn valuable life skills, make friends, and hear from subject matter experts from other local organizations providing mental health help, veterans assistance, housing, as well as receive groceries.
It is part of our purpose to partner with the community. We welcome and gladly work with other agencies that are designed to alleviate suffering. The projects we have initiated involve churches of various denominations, businesses, government, and social services to make a sustainable impact on poverty.
Our current building, a former railroad hotel, can shelter about 36 men in the downstairs dorm and up to 20 women and children in a separate dorm upstairs. We have a small kitchen area which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to both residents and community members; on average, about 75 meals every day.
Our chapel currently hosts four services per week, and is also used for classroom instruction and prayer meetings.
Life Change in Motion
Currently, we have a man we will call Alfred working in our kitchen. His goal is to gain independence by operating his own bakery. Alfred has a regrettable past that prevents him from being traditionally employed. With GRM's help, he has started a small venture selling baked goods to the local theater and other clubs and business organizations, with modest success. Alfred has entered a city-wide Soul Food cook-off to continue toward his goal of independence. GRM is helping him find opportunities; but Alfred is doing the work to remove the barriers to future employment. Alfred is learning important business principles, proving his skills to others, and building positive work experience. Ultimately, we hope Alfred's stream of work becomes so regular that he can be self-employed, a contributing member of the community.
It is the goal of Gospel Rescue Mission to replicate the model of Alfred's restoration with all guests who are willing to put in the effort for recovery. GRM believes that mentorship and healthy relationships are vital during and after program completion. As our guests progress through recovery, these relationships form a bridge between GRM and the real world, forming a new safety net of healthy connections. They will learn to form genuine connection in the community and church.
The Future of GRM
Gospel Rescue Mission's current facility began its life over 100 years ago as a railroad hotel. Given as a gift to our organization in the 1940s, it has been retrofitted over the years to serve the purposes of Gospel Rescue Mission. Our organization has only been supported by gifts from private individuals and churches; we have never taken government funding. Over the years, we have served tens of thousands of people with what was given by God's people. That amount has always been enough for operating expenses and basic needs, but not enough to keep the building up to code.
We find ourselves in 2016 with a very tired building. While it has been a haven and relief to many, it lacks infrastructure to properly care for our guests in modern times. As a brief example, GRM's kitchen is about the size of a modest household kitchen, yet serves around 75 meals a day. We lack the space for a dishwasher, and as a result, our guests eat off of paper plates with plastic cutlery. One area of major safety concern is the lack of modern fire suppression. It is cost-prohibitive to retrofit the current building with sprinklers, along with the needed updates in the electrical system. We do not currently conform to ADA standards. There are other areas of deferred maintenance in our present facility. The best way to understand the scope of the problem is to allow us to give you a tour.
We have recently been blessed with a building that has been donated to the ministry, Muskogee Welfare Association and United Charities of Muskogee gifted us with a spacious brick building on Callahan Street. The building, a former day care, is conveniently located near downtown Muskogee in a depressed neighborhood, which suits our purposes quite well. It has a roomy dining area and space for a professional-quality kitchen. Unfortunately, this building on Callahan had been vacant before our possession and was vandalized. Important wiring and plumbing fixtures were taken from the building and apparently sold as scrap material.
Gospel Rescue Mission has worked with Mike Martin of Martin Design Associates and has blueprints for the renovation of the Callahan street building. In addition to providing us with increased space, it will also include safety features such as overhead fire suppression and handicap accessibility.
Additionally, we must continue to secure funding for our on-going operation and for the first three years of new program implementation.
The total that we are hoping to raise in this campaign is $3,150,000.