The Orlando Union Rescue Mission (O.U.R.M.) is a place of healing, redemption, and renewal in the midst of poverty in Central Florida.
There are times when homelessness is more than just a temporary inconvenience. It is a way of life that culminates into desperate circumstances and few options. There are many homeless shelters that will cater to the housing needs and reintegration of homeless families back into the community.
Unfortunately, these institutions rarely get to the core of the issues leading to homelessness. Whether its lack of education, substance abuse, or emotional challenges that hinder the stability of homeless individuals; the core of the issues are ignored in favor of providing shelter and job training.
Giving the invitation to grow with love
The O.U.R.M. takes those basic needs a step further and accomplishes the massive task of healing the hearts and minds of the homeless families that are accepted into and successfully complete their programs.
This is achieved not through their will alone, but through the ministering of the healing power of Jesus Christ as a personal savior for each man, woman, and child who graces their doorstep. It is through their genuine display of love that each family is introduced to the awesome, merciful, and healing power of Jesus Christ.
The first step in the process of being accepted into the mission home is an application. Applicants sit in the family meeting area amongst several couches, decorative throw pillows, and an awesome view to a mission playground and serene lake behind the mission. The environment is conducive to rest and allows weary parents to sit and focus their attention on the application.
There are six pages that evaluate each applicant’s need from the moment they arrive. The debts, all sources of income, and their goals must be spelled out before the application is accepted. This requirement is Christ-like in its prerequisite that applicants come to them prepared to be open and honest about their personal and financial situation.
Applicants who successfully complete this process are advised of the intake process and advised to await a call from the mission for further consideration. After the application is completed, families are then invited to eat in the mission’s dining room.
Feeding the soul through physical nourishment
For many families, this is not just another meal. It is usually the first hot meal many families have had since becoming homeless. A staff comprising of a kitchen monitor and residents completing discipleship serve each family a balanced meal.
Once receiving a meal, residents are able to sit, eat, and socialize with other residents. This outpouring of love and sustenance is yet another indication of the love that the mission has for the families who live there. Many residents state that the first meal they received at the mission was often a moving experience because of the care the staff demonstrated during the process.
Opening the door to new life with a Christ-based foundation
Once accepted into the program, families are required to attend the Victorious Life Program. The program provides a formal introduction to biblical principles for everyday living in Jesus Christ. The two week program requires that residents from both the family division and the men’s division attend courses and complete all required work in a structured environment.
Pastor Dave Arlington instructs the course from an unusual perspective garnered from over 40 years in ministry, advanced theological education, and vast missionary experience. The course is life changing due to the combination of Pastor Arlington’s wisdom and several DVD series.
Lord Change my Attitude, Experiencing God, and Why Jesus are a just of few of the series that add life to the already profound Christ based curriculum.
The entire process ensures that residents are developing and maintaining a relationship with Christ in addition to developing a structure that forms a foundation for a self-sufficient routine. The next step in the process of changing hearts, changing attitudes, and changing direction comes once the Final Evaluation for the Victorious Life Program is completed.
As a compliment to the course, the mission requires that residents maintain a vigorous biblically-based study schedule.
- Residents must attend chapel Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evenings with the exception of those residents who maintain the same services at their own church.
- Residents must attend bible study with their case manager every Thursday evening.
- Residents must attend parenting classes, finance management classes, marriage counseling if applicable, and do chores in addition to discipleship training.
Building an educational foundation for career success
In order to institute a firm career-based foundation, residents are assessed in the Career Learning Center. Residents without a high school diploma or general education diploma are tutored and provided the opportunity to receive a high school diploma through the mission. This unique option allows residents who are older to obtain a high school diploma rather than a General Education Diploma.
Those residents with a high school diploma are then provided job training through a unique discipleship program. The program is created to instill values such as dependability, integrity, ethics, and a structured routine that conditions residents for employment outside of the mission.
Here are several of the programs offered to assist residents in building a successful career:
Microsoft Office Certification
All Things Sweet Culinary Training Program
High School Diplomas
Discipleship Work Training Program
Extending the blessing from parents to children
While parents and single residents are attending courses, completing discipleship training, and earning certifications, children are provided with educational and physical enrichment. The Family Life Center is located next to the mission home and is a blessing in many ways.
Children are provided with a comfortable environment via a nursery, gymnasium, and computer lab. The emotional and physical needs are met via a caring staff of young people who monitor activities and provide structure while parents are learning and working.
Children create friendships that nurture them socially. It is a priceless benefit to children who need structure and love. The final benefit of the structure for children transcends the mission to affect the educational progress of the children who live and sleep within mission walls.
Children are provided with a computer lab where staff helps with homework and tutors come in to assist in each child’s progress. Progress reports are required in order to maintain a record of the educational benefits the mission provides to children as well as parents.
The children in the O.U.R.M. are particularly blessed to have a home and a place where they can go to develop socially, physically, and academically.
Completing the Mission
The mission statement of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission is “Bringing the hungry, hurting, and homeless to new life, new goals, and a new future in Christ.” The mission home is not a homeless shelter, it’s not an emergency shelter, and it’s a not a place where people go to gain something for nothing.
Residents are required to have a desire to serve the Lord and to build themselves into productive, happy, and self-sufficient individuals. There is a concerted effort by both the residents and the staff to complete the journey from homelessness to independence. In short, it takes work.
The mission operates solely on the heart of the community. Because the institution does not receive government aid, the staff frequently conducts tours that allow the community to come in and see firsthand the work it does in the lives of its residents. Those tours lead to volunteers and donations that aid in furthering the successful operation of the mission home.
In closing, the Orlando Union Rescue Mission is a refuge. The healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ is evident in the smiling faces of the people who live there. Both the short term and long term transitional programs have a distinct purpose and serve to uplift each resident in a particular way that’s only possible through the love of Christ.
To learn more:
The mission website is www.OURM.org
The institutions Facebook page can be reached here for frequent updates and photos demonstrating the mission statement in action.