How much suffering is enough?

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” - Matthew 26:46

Jesus knew his life would be sacrificed...

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” - John 2:19

Jesus asked if there was another way...

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” - Matthew 26:39.

...but, did he know how much he would have to suffer? Did he know that his Father would forsake him?

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" -Matthew 26:46 

During the past several months, I have been asking God "how much suffering is enough?"

God's answer has been...

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." -2 Corinthians 12:9
For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. -2 Corinthians 13:9

We would appreciate your prayers. It seems that many individuals who are staff, volunteers, friends and/or family of The Shepherd’s House have been inflicted with many ailments. 

  • Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Cash suffered an attack of Labyrinthitis.
  • Marci has been battling colin cancer for over 10 years.
  • Curt has undergone back surgeries and suffers from permanent loss of feeling in his foot.
  • Georgiann has been suffering from extreme pain issues.
  • Robin was diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Val suffered a broken a rib from a fall.
  • Loomis suffers from low blood pressure episodes resulting in Vertigo.
  • Syd fell and broke a part of his vertebrae.
  • I myself am dealing with the effects of degenerating discs in my neck and with spondylolisthesis in his lower back.

Mike’s Story

My dad was murdered when I was just 3 years old. My family split up, but in time, my mom remarried. My new stepdad was an abusive alcoholic. He beat us all the time. One night when I was 8 years old, he was beating my mother to death and she screamed, “Get the gun and shoot him!” I was terrified but I ran and got the .44 pistol out of my mom’s room and ran back and fired three shots at my stepdad. Fortunately, I couldn’t hold the big gun too well so only one bullet grazed him. The police came and I was sent to a boy’s home.
I was already a troubled kid and things only got worse at the boy’s home.  It was supposed to be a safe and healing place, but during my first week a group of older boys brutally raped me. The rape was so severe I was hospitalized.
Over the next 30 years I joined gangs, was in and out of jail, on drugs, on probation, on parole or in a psych ward. Off and on, I spent 22 years in jail or an institution. In between sentences I had two daughters, but one was killed by a drunk driver and the other was shot during a robbery. I truly believed there was no hope for a guy like me.
While in jail the last time, some Biker’s for Christ gave a presentation. Like me, these guys had hurt people, been in gangs or in jail, but now they lived for Jesus. Their testimonies gave me hope that God could even forgive and help a guy like me and I accepted Christ as my savior.
When I was released from jail I wanted to go to a faith-based recovery program, for I believed that only Jesus could change me. I went to Union Gospel Mission in Portland, and then transferred to The Shepherd’s House. Getting into the Shepherd’s House has been the best thing I have ever done. It’s been amazing to see God work a miracle changing someone like me, but its not been easy.
I hurt a lot of people, and I have been hurt a lot.
I am not as angry anymore and I even made restitution with my stepdad who I tried to shoot thirty years ago. I now have a job and all of the people I work for are Christians and they have really helped me. And when I have time, I write poetry about my faith and life as it really helps me express my heart towards God. - Mike

This past month, shortly after publishing this story, Mike relapsed. Some events in his family’s life became too much for him to bare without going back to the drugs which have been his way of coping with pain and suffering for so long.

It was very painful for Mike and it was painful for us to watch. After 2 weeks of being back on the streets and spending most of his hard earned money, Mike returned to The Shepherd’s House in deep deep pain. He was not in a condition to be able to return to our program, but was accepted again into the long-term program at UGM Portland Rescue Mission and today is doing well.


Other ministry news:

  • AGRM 2015 - I was able to attend the national AGRM conference in Seattle, WA and had the opportunity to talk with many rescue mission staff about the work of GNI.
  • Women & Children Program - There is a lot of momentum in the community supporting a Women & Children program in Central Oregon. The TSH board created a Real Estate Committee that is tasked with finding and securing property for the Women & Children program. As of this email message, we are under contract for the purchase of several properties in Bend, OR and are working through the due diligence to determine which will work best for our program.
  • Branding and Marketing - TSH is currently engaged in a branding and marketing process for reconsidering the organization name, brand, and position in the market. Through a vision casting process with a local company, we continue to move forward with a plan for greater market awareness.
  • Monthly Direct Mail - As of April 2015, TSH started creating our monthly direct mail pieces in house (we were using a direct mail company in CA). Direct mail is currently the "bread and butter” of our financial resources (85 - 90% of our revenue comes from donations from private individuals) and developing the mailing piece each month has created more work, however, so far the results are positive for this change in direction.
  • Graduation - We had 4 more men graduate from our long-term program on June 11, 2014. During the 4 years since implementing our long-term discipleship program, we have had 26 men graduate from the program and as far as we know 24 are sober and doing well (if you are counting, that is a 92% success rate).

Thank you for your prayers and support. May God bless you during the 2nd half of 2015.