June 2022 Newsletter
From the Desk of Dave McLean
I love the conversations I have with our residents at the shelters. A good number of our guests are trying to overcome heavy drug or alcohol addictions, and almost all are dealing with hurts and bitterness. It can be hard for us to relate to those who are struggling with serious addictions- I struggled with it for years. I tended to see the problem or dysfunction on the outside, and had difficulty getting to know the person or see their hurts on the inside. We all tend to want to avoid problems. If we have problems, we tend to avoid those who can help us and if we see problems in others, we like to turn the other way ourselves. I’ve spent a good part of my life trying to carve out a comfortable world for myself. As much effort as I have spent focusing on myself, the Lord has a way of moving me out of my comfort zone and into a caring zone. I’m assuming everyone can relate to my struggle. When I first started serving at A Ray of Hope, I was outside my comfort zone a good part of the time. The biggest change in my heart came five years ago when I was building Peggy’s House. I was desperate for help and I cried out to God for it. He lifted up the residents of the Men’s Shelter and they were thrilled to jump in and help me. I was now the one in need and they joyfully met it. There were many times I wanted to quit building that house, but obviously that was not an option. How do you quit building on a women’s shelter? I was in my late 50’s and the task seemed daunting and strenuous. One day, I was walking on the top of a third-floor wall doing truss layout, and I thought, what am I doing? I can’t do this anymore. So I sat down on the wall, shimmied back, and used an extension ladder to layout the trusses. That fall the smoke was thick and my will was thin. We lacked labor, we lacked funds, and I lacked energy. Peggy Christensen had cancer and was determined to see this house to completion- I’m convinced my slow schedule added six months to her life! She passed away a few days after our grand opening. I look back now and see how the Lord tested me and how He provided along the way. Our roles were reversed: those whom I had been helping, now were meeting my need, and I fell in love with them. The Lord gave me a taste of being in need, and of being grateful when others met my need. My love for them moved from a surface love to a deep love. I don’t feel I have a counselor/ counselee relationship anymore, but more that I’m with my friends. I no longer see a gap between others and myself, I see that we are all in need of the love and mercy of the Savior, and the more we can turn toward each other in the process, and not turn away, the more we create the community the Lord is looking for. Rejecting or avoiding those who are different than us is merely a deepening of the wound that is really causing the difference in the first place. What others need to see, is that we truly love Jesus and genuinely love them. If we focus on the dysfunction, we’ll lose the relationship, and they’ve had a lifetime of that. If we truly love, heart to heart, we can help others realize that they are really only one decision away from being right with their Creator, Who will take them as they are and bring about the change of the heart after the plunge. There’s hope! And yes, He does have the answers to our hurts and problems! Hard to turn that down, and yet many do- for now. Some will visit our Bible studies even after they leave the shelter. They see the Lord there and are interested, yet there is that struggle to take the step of faith to the other side. But, some do, and that makes it all worthwhile. Can I trust God, and can this God forgive, love, and watch over me? What will He expect of me if I choose Him? We can cover hard conversations and be perfectly honest, and yet know that we love each other and there is no offense taken. If a person is sincere in their beliefs, even if they are different than my own, that’s okay. I used to have different and interesting beliefs myself, and still do in some ways, and yet God has been gracious with me! Our love and care for each other has to be greater than our own love of self. Our greatest calling is love. All Scripture points us to loving God and others (Mt 22:36-40). The Lord says that if we are loving others like we love ourselves, then we are doing His will. Sounds simple, and it is, we just need to elevate others to the way we love ourselves. And if we love others like we love ourselves, we’ll also be loving our Lord. This is the community our Lord so desires. This is the love we so desire, but in order to gain it, we have to give it. Amen? Amen!
To my faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized the person staring back at you? For many people in this world this is the existence of our lives. Struggling with addiction, homelessness, and isolation from love. Lost souls, crying out. Crying out for your help. I used to be one of these people. Lost in addiction, broken, and misunderstood. A lost soul until I found Jesus. It was in him that I found the person in the mirror. In him, I no longer saw myself as a stranger, but could finally see myself through God’s eyes. It was through him I found my worth. And only through him that I developed the will to live. My chains were broken. I no longer am a prisoner of addiction. At 27 years old, I found myself dying in the hospital with cirrhosis of the liver. I deserved death, but God refused to let me die. Through all the suicide attempts, God still refused to let me die. When I found myself completely alone, homeless and hopeless; I found myself crying out, begging, surrendering to God. Although I knew nothing of him, he came anyway for his lost sheep. For his broken daughter. Our father is faithful like this. Not only has God delivered me from my addiction, healed my body and soul but he has restored me to sanity. I am forever thankful for this. It is through Jesus that I have found a new way to live. I no longer chase worldly things to fill the void inside of me. Instead, I chase God! I would love to take my intimate relationship with My Lord and Savior to a deeper level. I believe that God has kept me alive for a reason and a purpose. Although my past has been trying and full of sorrow, it has left me with a spirit of compassion and love. I have been rewarded the gift from my heartache, to be able to meet, love and accept people where they’re at. I am using my testimony to reach others and help lead them to Jesus. I know now that this God’s will and purpose for me to help reach the lost and the broken. Every day I fall more and more in love with Jesus, and I want the whole world to know my love for Him. For them to know his love for themselves. I have dreams of doing long term mission work. To be the hands and feet of Jesus and a light unto others. It is taking a huge step out in faith/ But I trust God will make a way.
I’m so GRATEFUL for A Ray of Hope. Everyone deserves a chance, a second chance and even a third. I’m Brittney Frehse and I’ve been given just that through my life. A Ray of Hope didn’t see me as a 35-year old failure. They have seen me as one of God’s children and as a mother and a friend that deserves yet another chance. I had lost sight of that. I was angry, hurt and mad at the world. I didn’t want to own my part in my choices, mostly because it hurt. Well sometimes you just have to swallow hard, cry your tears, own your actions and change. You need to take to your knees and ask for forgiveness because God is a loving Father and no matter what he is always there with you. A Ray of Hope is exactly that. My life is restored. I’m surrounded by love, God and my Hope Family. I’m now living a clean life and praying to God every day. I’m closer and closer to my immediate family. My children Laihla & Lennox get to see their mom change and grow and that makes them happy. Every right choice I make brings them closer to their mom and that makes it possible for me to forgive myself. I have this amazing relationship with them and with God. He never left me. I just forgot who was really there for me when I was alone. I am so excited where I am going now in my life. I have so much help and support from everyone at A Ray of Hope. I thank all of you who have helped build A Ray of Hope from the ground up. I would like to thank Peggy & Bob who donated their home and to the blood sweat and tears that went into building this beautiful home. A home I can now call as my own. I am truly blessed and so grateful. I love being able to return some of that gratitude by volunteering back in the community at Hope Thrift, the Flathead Food Bank and the Animal Shelter. Thank you for all your support. Your loving friend, Brittney Frehse.
From Gatekeeper to Knowing God’s Grace
If I expressed my thoughts out loud to you, the reaction I would get is I’m crazy and my words untrue.
In all honesty that is the comforting idea, not just for me but also for you.
I feel soft and hardened, loved and alone, trapped and reborn.
My life being one that could easily end soon in grieving, with my family having to mourn.
Ignorance they say is a blissful state, ignoring the pain that lies beneath the mask I display.
My “escape” has been ruined since the beginning, with knowledge of a better way.
Fear led me through every choice I made, one of those 360-degree revolving doors at freedoms gate.
The chances that came to me with hands stretched out, fear threw me back in, filled me with hate. The choice to live a life of shame, misery, pain, ridicule, discomfort, afraid and alone.
My Gramps always made a point to remind me of a Robert Frost poem.
‘The Road Less Traveled By’ it is called, freedom and following God my less traveled road.
My life has been filled with planted seeds over the years, each one a glimmer of hope not yet grown.
A human garden awaiting God’s grace to be accepted inside to flourish and bless His creation.
My self-will the gate keeper all along, blocking out the gifts from Him missing out on alleviation. Blocking out anything and everything good; a frightened, selfish, wallowing little girl full of sin.
Gods who has been there all along just waiting to be let back in.
God’s mercy and grace, the beauty of this, words just cannot even begin to explain.
Thank you Jesus for saving me, for dying on the cross and giving me the choice to get out of pain.