Soup, Soap, and Salvation

Does secularism offer hope of recovery for homeless people?

There is a great difference between secular homeless shelters and faith-based ones. To clarify, West Virginia Rescue Ministries is a Christian-based shelter. The difference begins with the world view the shelters subscribe to.

Secular shelters have to explain what they are and what their world view is. We can only be accountable for ourselves. We center our ministry on Biblical principles and faith in Jesus Christ. We truly believe that faith in Jesus Christ is the only real and complete hope for behavioral change, life skills development, and a restored life. Providing a homeless person with a job and a house is commendable. However, it does not address the life styles that led a person to homelessness.

I plan to address the “Housing First Initiative” in a future blog. However, it needs to be noted that a homeless person had acceptable housing before they became homeless. I asked the residents of our shelter if they thought having a house would solve their issues. Repeatedly they stated that they had housing before they were homeless. They recognized that deeper issues had separated them from their housing.

Jesus Christ and faith in Him is the only hope they have. Sexual immorality, drugs, and alcohol are part of the cycle of homelessness. To break the cycle of chronic homelessness, there has to be a spiritual answer — an answer that secularism cannot offer.

If your world view denies the existence of God, what we are striving to do does not make sense. Belief in the existence of God is a legitimate, rational, reasonable belief. For all the arguments against this idea I offer the successes of Christ-based ministry. Secularism will offer its successes, but our idea of success is different than theirs.

The first shelters were built by Christian men offering help and hope — or soup, soap, and salvation, as they often stated. Since 1937, West Virginia Rescue Ministries has been working toward ending homelessness, one homeless person at a time.

George E. Batten
Executive Director

Reflection on Sacrifices Made

Would you sleep at the Union Mission of Fairmont in order to fulfill your heart-driven passion? On February 8, 2016, we dedicated our kitchen in memory of longtime employee, Edith Closson. If snow was in the forecast, Miss Edith, as she was affectionately called, would stay the night at the Mission so she would be available for the hungry. A conservative number of meals that she cooked and served during her 46 years of service would be 1.1 million.

One of the speakers at the kitchen dedication likened her to Dr. Livingston, whose heart was buried in Africa, saying, “Her heart is at the Mission.” That caused me to reflect on the sacrifice she made to minister to the homeless and hungry, and the investment she made in their recovery.  This led me to think of the many like her who have sacrificed to make Union Mission of Fairmont a reality . . . to see it continue into the future.  Today’s

Union Mission is the by-product of their sacrifice. Sacrifices have been made since 1937 to establish the Mission, to grow the Mission, and to prepare it for the next generation of ministry.  The community that supports the Mission is sacrificing to maintain the ministry of feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and providing life-changing programs.

As the Executive Director, my goal, hope, and desire is to honor the sacrifices made by those who came before us.  I want to rise to the challenge and make the sacrifice that will cause this ministry to endure and thrive.  This ministry has not been built by one individual . . . it is the cumulative project of many compassionate people.  Many sacrifices have been made and many sacrifices still need to be made so the hungry and homeless can receive God’s love.

George E. Batten
Executive Director

Offering Hope

America’s first Rescue Mission opened in New York City during 1872 in response to the influx of immigrants. As the needs of homelessness changed over the years, the ministries and programs adapted to meet those needs. What has not changed, however, is their focus on Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

In this blog we will address the issues of homelessness as well as the needs of the homeless – and demonstrate West Virginia Rescue Ministries’ importance to Marion and surrounding counties. West Virginia Rescue Ministries was founded in 1937 by local businessmen at the First Presbyterian Church of Fairmont. What the founders had in common was a desire to meet lost men with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and afford them the opportunity to change and grow. Today, in our present location at 107 Jefferson Street, we still offer hope in Christ and helping hands to a better tomorrow.

I am glad to have you join me on this journey . . . to investigate the needs of hurting, homeless people, and to share Christ’s love for those in our communities who need understanding.

No one is so broken that God cannot meet them. It is our pleasure to be His hands of healing.


George E. Batten
Executive Director