Search & Rescue, Homelessness
Even on the coldest winter nights, Mark looks forward to sharing a cup of hot chocolate with people who are living on the street. Not long ago, he was one of them.
“During the time I was homeless,” Mark says, “the most overwhelming experience I found was loneliness. When night falls, the crowds go home, and you’re left on your own with your thoughts, frustrations, and self-loathing whipping around in your mind.”
Mark became homelessness after a disability prevented him from working. Eventually, he and his family lost their home and moved into a shelter. Mark stayed there until the organization changed its policy and men were no longer welcome.
“I opted to separate from my wife so my family could have somewhere to stay. I didn't want to be a burden. I had a lot of issues with asking for help, and I didn't want to ruin any relationships, so I stayed away from my kids for ten years. It wasn't easy.”
Mark remembers the night he thought he’d found a perfect spot to get some rest—a doorway with just enough light to see someone who might be a threat, but dark enough to conceal him.
“I saw a van’s headlights pull into the parking lot, and several men and women walked toward me. For some reason I didn’t feel threatened. Instead of asking me to move on, they offered me a cup of hot chocolate and a sandwich. What I will never forget is the warmth of people who were here to see me, to talk with me, and pray with me. How powerful it was to have someone place their hands on my shoulder and fill me with words of hope. This was truly God’s way of showing me I wasn’t forgotten.”
It was also the beginning of Mark’s journey through the Men’s Program at the Mission—an experience that transformed his life.
“The Mission taught me how to build relationships and become part of society again. But more than that, they showed me how to build a relationship with Christ that’s the foundation of my life today.”
That experience is something Mark wants to offer to as many people as possible. It’s why most nights you’ll find him sharing a cup of hot chocolate and prayers with our homeless neighbors, along with an invitation to explore the same path that lead him to a new life.
You can help support Mark’s work with the Mission’s Search + Rescue program by making a monthly gift to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission.