The apostle Paul makes a statement to the Corinthians that without the resurrection our faith is empty. The resurrection stands as one of the most important events in history. Many apologists can defend the resurrection better than I can. My purpose is not to debate in favor of the resurrection – it is to explore the implications and hope the resurrection brings to the homeless and addicted.

When the resurrection happened, Jesus Christ fulfilled the plan of God to redeem (buy back from sin’s hold) all of humanity. On the resurrection hangs all of Christianity. On the resurrection hangs all of the hope addicted or homeless people have for recovery.

We improve a homeless person’s life when we provide housing. If we give them the message of Christ and the resurrection, we provide an avenue for a new life, not just an improved life. The effects of homelessness are so disturbing that new life becomes a necessity. Homelessness brings hopelessness and despair. If addiction is part of the homeless issue, the effect multiplies.

That is why the old must become new and hope must replace despair. Christ is the answer for the mental and emotional state created by addiction. Improvement alone will not suffice.

Union Mission understands the importance of a new life, and we offer it at every juncture of our ministry. We are fighting for transformation on behalf of our resident guests. We can only offer faith in Christ. We cannot force anyone to accept Him.

The dead in sin can live in Jesus Christ. In Christ alone, our hope is built. Union Mission is a ministry making a difference for those who come to us. Every friend, supporter, and volunteer shares in the ministry and the victories experienced by those we serve.

It is for the homeless we serve, with you by our side. We make a difference one life at a time. It is our joy to be at the forefront of homeless ministry with YOU!

George E. Batten
Executive Director

Babies Born Addicted

On September 27, 2015, the Clarksburg Exponent – Telegram ran an article entitled, “50 percent of Harrison County babies born to mothers who use drugs.” Although caffeine and nicotine are some of the drugs, the article went on to say 25% of the 1,050 babies born in Harrison County in 2015 needed treatment for withdrawal. This in itself is alarming and it is increasing yearly!

The same newspaper ran an article on March 3, 2016, about three people charged in a robbery at a club. The three suspects had chemical dependencies. One had been arrested 25 times and another had at least one brush with the law involving methamphetamine. In addition, the 4-year- old son of one of the suspects was in the van while the child’s mother participated in the robbery. Two of the accused stated that they had been living in an apartment paid for by The Housing First Initiative.

I do not need to state that there is a chemical dependency problem in America … we know that already. Neither do I need to point out that chemical dependency results in criminal acts … we again know this. But I ask again, does housing someone who cannot maintain housing help them? It is not the fault of those overseeing The Housing First Initiative; they cannot be responsible for the acts of the individuals they house. It does, however, help make the case that “housing first” is putting the cart before the horse.

We need to address the issues in order. Providing housing may actually delay a person seeking real help. These issues are spiritual in nature. No mother, in her right mind, would take their child with them to commit robbery. No mother, in her right mind, exposes their unborn child to the horrors of addiction. My wife, a registered nurse, has described for me the cries of the newborn babies as they withdraw from the chemicals in them. It is horrific.

This is a spiritual issue, one created by chemical dependency that is rooted in the sickness of sin. There is a remedy, one we often reject, Jesus Christ and the victory He provides through His death on the cross and resurrection.

What will the future hold for the babies born addicted? Only God knows for sure, but Union Mission will continue to offer the answer that is in Christ Jesus. I invite you to work with us in lifting up the cross of Christ as the answer.

George E. Batten
Executive Director

People First!

When I was attending Zion Bible Institute thirty-plus years ago, the late Dr. Leonard Heroo stated that if you had a party and food was left over — people went away full. On the other hand, if food was not left over — people went away hungry. Likewise, if there is an empty bed – there is room to house all. We just cannot turn people away because there is no room! Everyone deserves shelter. To make sure all the homeless are housed, we need to have an empty bed.

Government-subsidized shelters cannot afford empty beds because of the intense competition for government dollars. To fund the Housing First Initiative, the government must commit large amounts of tax dollars.

The most immediate need of the homeless is food and shelter. Union Mission serves as a temporary shelter for those in crisis. The Housing First Initiative seeks to house a person first and then wrap services around them to prevent the reoccurrence of homelessness. It begs the question, “Why did these services not prevent the initial homeless occurrence?” It could be that many of the homeless did not want the services or did not qualify for the services.

Although Housing First is a compassionate initiative, it is built on an assumption of affordability, availability, and adequacy. The idea that all people, regardless of race or socio-economic status should have affordable adequate housing is valid. Affordability, availability, and adequacy are the white elephants in the room. A full-time minimum wage job generates $1,400 per month income before taxes and deductions. A rent payment of $600 a month for adequate housing is unaffordable at minimum wage. At some time, a person earning minimum wage will have to choose between food, rent, clothing, and utilities. Are rentals of $600 per month adequate? It depends on where you are. According to the RENTRANGE website, a one bedroom apartment in Fairmont, WV, averages $700 per month.

The next question in the Housing First Initiative revolves around the definition of homeless and qualification for the program. The focus of the Housing First Initiative is whether the homeless person is likely to succumb in the next year if they are not adequately housed. If you are couch surfing (staying at a friend’s) you are not considered homeless, but if you reside in a homeless shelter you are, by their definition, homeless. As with all government-funded programs, you must qualify, and the vast number of mission residents do not rank high on the priority of assistance — yet they are homeless.

Union Mission is an achievement-based recovery program focusing on people first. A client’s final achievement in our program is saving $3,000 toward the next step . . . leaving the mission. This means they have demonstrated mastering the root cause of their homelessness, found employment and maintained it, then saved money — a habit that hopefully will continue into the future.

For us, simply housing the homeless is not success. Success is helping someone return to society and independent living. It is just simply people first!

George E. Batten
Executive Director