1997 through 2009
After housing abused and pregnant teens from 1981-1997, we were suddenly faced with an opportunity that we were not expecting! A door flung wide open and through a series of circumstances and connections, Jesus Cares embarked on a mission to help drug addicted men. Property was acquired in Tempe and the ministry now had an opportunity to work with men while maintaining the outreach for women in Mesa. The men who came for help had backgrounds and offenses much like the perpetrators who had devastated the lives of our women. How eye opening to be on the other side, bringing the Truths of God's Word to the criminals and the offenders instead of the victims. Yet, no matter what your mission and outreach, you begin to see that the perpetrator was once a victim. Hurt people hurt people! It brought great insights into our work with the women, giving us a new passion to teach them how important it was to rise up out of the victim status, trusting that God would use their history of abuse and neglect as stepping stones to a victorious life and a testimony of His redemption story. Better, not bitter would need to become a present reality in their lives if they would rise from victim to survivor and on to victor!
God raised up a Godly and gifted pastor to co-labor with Tom and Mike's full-time presence on the site of this new facility brought healing and hope to those God was sending us. His skill as a shepherd and his gentle giant demeanor was a unique gift to the men we were serving. We would chuckle as he taught them things like table manners, taking off their hats in church, and general acts of kindness that were certainly foreign to many of these men. Mike would spend hours, teaching them the foundations of the Christian faith. They learned how to take responsibility for their actions and how to walk out the life of repentance. The focus of the mission was all about applying the Truths of the gospel to bring about change from the inside out. This pastor, born and bred in a small town in Connecticut, became savvy to the culture of sin and death that many of the residents were steeped in. Tom and Mike became a wonderful team and the ministry continued until 2007 when Mike found a bride and moved to Puerto Rico. We were operating the mission, for a short season, without someone on site and that became difficult and unmanageable as you can well imagine. We were still directing the women's program full time and Tom could no longer manage the facility by himself and maintain the integrity we felt was important to a mission desired on site. With no one stepping forward to fill Mike's unique position we were forced to transition the men into other facilities and we asked God for His will for this property.
A call from one of our daughters became the catalyst that birthed the F.I.T. Housing program. She asked if a couple that she knew could occupy one of the units at the four plex where the men once resided. This couple had a rough beginning, a new baby, lots of debt, and were desperately trying to live out their lives faithfully as new believers. Through another series of connections and circumstances, the Lord flung open the door to another opportunity. We could now offer a service that would benefit the local church by offering mentoring and discipleship to members of their congregation that were in need of affordable housing. We were no longer in need of a full-time pastor on-site and by networking with local congregations we could work together as a team to build up and restore families.
We will always be grateful to Mike for his faithful service and awesome shepherding to the men of the mission. Some of the men keep in touch and some of the former residents are on our prodigal prayer list. We recently heard from one man who lost his wife and believes that his time in the program prepared him for such a tragedy. Occasionally you will see my husband peeking into bushes on the side of the road or stopping to see if the man walking bent backed and worn is one of "his boys". We are forever changed by meeting them and it is our prayer that they will be forever changed by their encounter with those who loved them, taught them and brought them face to face with Jesus.
"...I assure you and most solemnly say to you, to the extent that you did it for one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it for Me."