I was given the honor of sharing a charge with the graduates at the latest SBRM graduation a couple of weeks ago. Sharing at the November graduation specifically had personal significance for me because Rolf, the big kids and I attended our first graduation in November of 2006 when Rolf interviewed for his current position as President. That graduation was my first exposure to the work and people of the SBRM and as I sat with tears streaming down my face overwhelmed by the transparency and love that filled the church that evening, I knew our family needed to be a part of it. Luckily, the search committee and board of directors felt the same way and Rolf began his SBRM employment two months later!! He commuted between LA and Santa Barbara for 6 long months until our house in Los Angeles sold and we relocated the whole family the following July! Our family’s relationship with the rescue mission was natural and casual from the very start…the kids related easily to the residents through football scrimmages in the parking lot and impromptu music sessions in the chapel and to the homeless guests at mealtimes and hanging out in the courtyard. I may have shared this story before but I remember when the big kids were young, they were interviewed on a local radio show and the host asked the kids if they liked volunteering at the rescue mission. There was an awkward radio silence until one of them said “no, we don’t volunteer there.”!! Not hearing the response she expected, the host quickly changed the subject. Afterward, I asked the kids what they were thinking…”why didn’t you answer her question? You guys are there all the time!” . The kids looked at me a little confused and said “but we aren’t volunteers, we’re family.” Ah, yes, indeed. That was a special season in the life of our young family. I miss our weekly family dinners in the dining hall with the residents and guests as well as our drop in visits to see the women at the Bethel House.
The Rescue Mission is in the middle of a $10 million remodel…a capital campaign that Rolf and his team have been working hard on for the past few years. Phase 1 of the remodel was recently completed and the administrative staff got to move into their new offices. Olivia and I went over to help Rolf hang his pictures and unpack boxes. It is a beautiful facility and will serve our community well for many decades to come. I’m so proud of all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that have gone into this project so far. There is much work left to be done but there is light at the end of the tunnel and morale is high. I admit I got overwhelmed touring the new building and seeing all the amazing potential for future ministry and programs. I guess I didn’t realize how emotionally invested I was in this remodel project and how deeply I wish I could be a part of the great work that is going to fill the freshly painted halls of this very special space in the future.
Sharing words of encouragement to the graduates also allowed me the opportunity to share my genuine love for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission…the work done through it, the people that fill it and the God who empowers it to “rebuild broken lives”. ‘Just to be clear, it isn’t a perfect place but it’s genuine in it’s intent for good and in it’s dependency on God and that is a powerful combination!!!
The video of my charge was shared on the SBRM website so I’ve attached it below for the record. 😉 You’re welcome to listen to it if you have 12 minutes to spare.