For several years Grace Church has worked alongside the Rescue Mission Alliance (RMA), a Christian nonprofit organization based in Oxnard, California, that has served the homeless community in the name of Christ for more than forty years. During that time the RMA has expanded to a number of satellite locations, one of which is in our own backyard right here in the San Fernando Valley.
The San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission began in 1998 as the Rescue Survival Outreach Services (SOS) Program, which travels to six distinct areas of the Valley each week with a mobile shower unit, hot nutritious food, and clothing and hygiene items for distribution. Each month, the Rescue SOS program serves an average of 1,500 men, women, and children and provides more than 1,500 meals, 1,400 items of clothing, 300 showers, and 400 hygiene kits. In 2002, in response to the critical, unmet need for a year-round emergency shelter, the Mission launched their Family Shelter program in collaboration with several San Fernando Valley area churches. At any given time, nearly thirty beds are filled with men, women, and children to give relief to the Valley’s needy families. In addition to providing food, shelter, and basic life necessities, the Mission also equips these families with the skills necessary to obtain employment and housing for themselves.
Amid all their programs, the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission also seeks to partner with local churches to provide biblical instruction for the families they serve. Members of our own church family, including students from The Master’s Seminary, have led Bible studies, offered biblical counsel, and volunteered to help with meals as a way of serving the Rescue Mission. We have also donated clothing and hygiene items to the Mission, which they sell in their thrift store as a means of supporting the ministry.
On Saturday, May 3, this vital and important ministry experienced a devastating loss. Early that morning, a fire started on the adjacent property (a wood pallet manufacturing company) and spread over to the Rescue Mission. Thankfully, through the sovereign protection of God, all of the families who were staying in the shelter escaped without injury and have since been moved to a temporary location where the Mission can minister to them. The property, however, was declared a total loss. The fire destroyed the emergency shelter, the Mission’s vehicle fleet, the clothing warehouse, and the food pantry—all of which were essential in serving the homeless people of our community.
We want to come alongside the Rescue Mission and give our church family the opportunity to serve them during this time of great need. To that end, over the next two weeks we will be collecting donations of clothing and hygiene products in an effort to replenish the Mission’s supply. If you would like to help, please bring gently used (or new) items of clothing to church over the next two Sundays. General hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper, and even diapers are also welcome. The Mission will have trucks in the main and north parking lots to accept your donations.
The faithful servants at the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission have served Christ well in their desire to minister compassion to those who are often overlooked and forgotten in their time of need. Now the Mission itself is facing a time of need. As partners in the gospel and co-laborers with Christ, our church desires that those who have faithfully served others would not be overlooked or forgotten. Please join us in meeting this very practical need.