Dear Friend of the Jesus Center,
Winter is upon us and all that goes with it. As I write this letter, the Jesus Center has agreed to open its dining room during the cold spell in January so that those without shelter can sleep inside a warm place. Last night 45 people slept safely on mats under one roof, along with women and children in our refuge shelter, Sabbath House. Since 2002 Sabbath House has seen many hundreds of women ﬁnd hope and rest from living on the street which enabled them to plan a future.
Sabbath House director, Shelly Watson told me: “In the later part of 2014, the decision was made to change the culture of Sabbath House; since October we have been introducing the concept of reciprocity with our guests. I am pleased at the overwhelming positive response we have had from our guests on this new concept. Currently, each guests staying in the shelter is asked to give back by performing tasks for the Jesus Center or in Sabbath House, they complete 12 hours per month by completing variety of different tasks. Each guest is given a punch card in order to document their hours, some of the women have been so encouraged by the opportunity to give back that they have completed more than one punch card per month. For me personally, I felt it was important for our guests to be able to ﬁnd value in them selves, a sense of feeling that they CAN do something, they can accomplish a task. Being given the prospect of giving back has allowed a mutual exchange of help between our guests and the Jesus Center.”
Some of the women staying in Sabbath House have been supported by Aveed Khaki, owner of the local magazine Upgraded Living. In January’s edition of the magazine he featured Jennifer and Crystal who stay in Sabbath House, giving them a classy makeover to encourage others who could listen to their stories and improve their lives. The two Sabbath House women shared their stories in the magazine.
“I moved to Chico from Mississippi and I had a drug issue and became homeless,” said Jennifer. “My turning point was being tired of all the terrible days out on the streets and having to decide between food and drugs. It got very old. When I got pregnant, my boyfriend and I decided to get clean. I love Sabbath House. They ﬁnd out everything about you and provide a strong support system.”
Crystal enthused: “I’m a little shy. When it comes to talking about things that are important - I get jittery. I’m hoping this makeover will give me some conﬁdence. I volunteer and live at the Jesus Center and I’m drawn to help people through their hard situations. Don’t give up. Don’t run away from your reality, become stronger because of it.”
In the same magazine, Millie Hawkins, who is on staff at Sabbath House, was also featured: “I like seeing the changes the women at Sabbath House make in their lives. I want to continue to make changes and this makeover will add some pizzazz to my life!”
It’s encouraging to see what people in our community think about how women at the Center can change their lives and move forward. I’m encouraged by Aveed’s desire to point women towards transformation. That’s what we want at the Jesus Center – transformation that involves “pampering and beautiﬁcation” (Aveed’s words!), and transformation that involves a change of heart – a desire to please God and continue a productive life in spite of difﬁ cult circumstances.
I’ve introduced this letter to you with quotes from Aveed Khaki’s Upgraded Living magazine and I’m going to ﬁnish it with a piece from assistant director Rich Young. Rich came up with an idea of connecting the harshness of winter with the difﬁculty of overcoming obstacles for women at the Center. Here’s Rich’s article in full; it’s called Women in Winter:
The implications of winter describing a time in the life of someone struggling with addictions, divorce, a mental disability, domestic violence or other trials is certainly appropriate for the women and children served by the Sabbath House and the House of Hope. The term winter in this case refers to hardship or living with the resultant effects of bad choices. It occurs to me that although the problems created by the homeless community deserve attention and resolve, the angry manner in which this topic is often dealt with does not seem just. Jesus tells us in Romans…
“Who is that condemns? Christ Jesus who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
“No in all of these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
These precious words can be the guiding force to the women we serve ﬁnding their paths out of winter. The Jesus Center mission statement reads, “Offering hope and help in the name of Jesus.” Our hope is that the staff of the Center can offer hope in Christ and help out of their winters and on into a time of new life.
The Sabbath House is a shelter for women and children; and is one of the ways in which we offer a hand up; it has been serving the needs of women in distress or in a state of winter for going
on 12 years. The shelter is able to serve up 28 people daily and they may stay up to six months. During this time period the hope is to expose residents of the Sabbath House to change, a change of heart in particular. In our nation we each have the freedom to choose our path, and each of us makes some good choices and some not so great.
When the choices made are “not so great” that can bring on a sense of failure, and the further one travels down the road of “not so great” the more solitary and barren life can seem. The Sabbath House offers opportunity, to see oneself as things truly are but at the same time with an exposure to Christ through bible studies and staff encouragement a new day is possible. Taking on a new day is also a choice, but it is a good choice to change and grow.
A new day would include prayer, working to maintain surroundings, and being responsible. Once the residents of the Sabbath House are on a new path to a new day an opportunity to take the next step to independence can be to become part of the House of Hope, a transitional living experience.
The women residing at the House of Hope take on new responsibilities, perhaps for the ﬁrst time in their lives. This includes paying partial rent, assisting with utilities and learning to grow
and change together with other women seeking the same results. Living in the House of Hope provides opportunity and encouragement to ﬁnd a path to living a healthy life for the long term. Some attend classes; some have found employment and eventually move on to an independent life. These ladies with some missteps to overcome are also expected to attend Life Skills classes weekly, to learn to give back as they care for themselves. Some might say that the old lifestyles that being dealt with are selﬁsh. With that in mind the following verses sum up what the Jesus Center hopes to accomplish with each of these special women.
“When we give or serve, we set spiritual forces in motion and we’ll experience the results, whether we receive in kind or not. Selﬁshness and greed are inappropriate, so they will limit the results we receive. On the other hand, as we develop godly character and learn to serve God and people in humility, he is free to bless us with far more that we need to excel in every good work and increase our resources so that we can be generous on every occasion. 2Corinthians 9:8-11
Please continue your generous ways that we may continue our work to change lives
Rich and Aveed have made the case to encourage you to support our work at the Center because the lives of women are changed for the better. Over 200 women were helped in 2014. We will do the same in 2015 with your donations.