I love trees. Their towering presence feels like protection, with their strong roots deeply planted into the ground that provide for them to stand sturdy, but with the amazing ability to flex and sway when needed. Trees are part of an elaborate system that we rely upon for clean, fresh air to breathe. And trees offer a beautiful example of God’s extravagant, yet detailed handiwork.
While most people are familiar with our reliance upon trees, some may not know the bigger part that trees play in nature. Often, trees act as protection to the smallest and most vulnerable animals in their habitat. They naturally respond by providing shelter, food, and a refuge from heat or predators.
At first glance, trees often look independent of each other and even their surroundings, but when you inch closer you begin to discover how intricately laced together they truly are. The Jesus Center could be seen as a tall tree deeply rooted in our community providing shelter to those most vulnerable in our community, providing a safe and quiet yet intuitive place of refuge when the world becomes too loud to imagine success in.
Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 6th-12th
Some of our participants need extra support because they suffer from a mental illness that is difficult for most of us to see or understand. Often when we see the symptoms of Mental Health disorders, they require more from us. In the recently released 2019 Butte County Point in Time Census, 22% of respondents report having what they described as a Serious Mental Illness. There are limited statistics that would illustrate the many more who experience mild to moderate mental illness; in every form it is clearly a disease that needs attention. For the unhoused, who are already dealing with a variety of complex health and social issues daily, mental illnesses cause lasting problems in their personal and professional goals and trip them up to maintaining independence.
People come to the Jesus Center daily with many mental health ailments: Depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety that if left untreated can lead them to substance dependency, relational breakdowns, physical disease and so much more.
They need to find more than simple services; they need a grove of trees to protect, nurture, and help them find stability—a new root system. By extending our branches we can give them the necessary tools and resources, and connections to allow their roots to thrive.
Even simple things like hot meals, showers, clothing and housing can stabilize their mental health and give them a sense of purpose to improve their lives. Without humans touching them, filling their hope tanks, and reminding them that health is available to them, they will remain isolated and continue to spiral down.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
—John 15: 4
Let’s face it. Mental illness is grossly misunderstood. We can not stand and mock or ignore these neighbors that suffer. Instead, we move near, enclose them in our grove, and invite you to join in supporting them to find a path towards health: for their good and for our community.
Your gifts are your way of saying: “Yes, I want to be a part of a strong, rooted grove.” Thank you for saying yes to uniting around some of our community’s most challenged neighbors.
Waiting for you to join our grove,
Laura R. Cootsona