In digging through archives in preparation for the 30th Anniversary Gala, we came across a newsletter from April 2001, written by then director of House of Refuge Sunnyslope (HRS), David Atkins. It provides us with a revealing look back at what HRS was like then and it helps us look at where we are now and where we’re going.
From the Director’s Desk, April 2001:
God’s blessings to all of you! I would like to give special thanks to God for the many miracles He has provided, not only for me, but for The House of Refuge Sunnyslope.
Honestly, it has been a very tough year for all of us. Unfortunately, we have seen a great many of our men relapse and it saddens my heart to see the power that drugs and alcohol continue to play in their lives. I am reminded of the power it had over my life at one time, and the many years it took for me to let God take over.
At one point last year, I felt that I was failing in doing God’s work and wanted to give up. Then God reminded me that this was His calling for my life after I had to go through the drugs and alcohol. I had to endure homelessness, raising myself, detention centers, jails, fights, many scars and bruises. I lacked love and was constantly looking for it, always wondering why no one understood me. Questioning why people looked at me differently. What was wrong? Why had I tried so many times to kill myself? Why did I live a life of sin bringing hurt to myself and others.
The answer, I believe, is so I can feel the pain and hurt these men are going through.
I understand the depths of despair when they relapse. It is difficult when I have to ask someone to leave the program because I have compassion for them and understand their issues.
In spite of the many problems we have experienced last year at HRS, many great things have happened. We have filed a grant package to purchase the property at 10001 N 7th Place (Burkholder House). Thus, increasing our ability to provide additional transitional housing for four more men. We have met with all the parties involved and have been granted this wish.
Seeing your love and dedication, I am humbly reminded of the Scripture taken from Matthew 5:14-16:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Since HRS opened it’s doors [in 1988], we have ministered to 913 men. Last year we had worked with 98 men, of whom, 41 have moved into their own apartment or other transitional housing programs. Currently we have 19 men in our program.
In closing, I extend my sincere thanks to all of you. May God continue to touch your hearts with His love. You are special to us and your commitment to serve the homeless population in Phoenix has resulted in many changed lives.
I covet your prayers for our staff, volunteers and our men. Your prayers are important to us and to our mission here.
I will greet this day with love in my heart.
A Look Back, a Look Ahead…
In that same April 2001 newsletter, they were promoting the 3rd Annual Bowling Fundraiser. We’ve got the 9th Annual Bowl-A-Mania scheduled for August 25th. Furthermore, we’re finishing off the Canyon House which will be our 6th property for men and our 12th property all together.
In a week after 2 celebrities — apparently people who “had it all” — Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain — took their own lives — we read this testimony of David Atkins who several times, attempted to end his life. But, God had other plans — calling David to serve and, the difference being, he listened and followed. Moreover, David helped change the lives of men like himself.
God is calling each of us. Our creator knows our hearts and is speaking to us every day. It’s up to us to listen and follow His leading
“Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” Mark 4:8-10