New Life Fellowship Program Manager Danial Ficek (right) pictured with past UGM client Deryk (left). ‘Clients like Deryk are the reason I keep going.’ -Danial
These guys never had a chance.
This thought kept cycling through my mind as I listened to stories of heartbreak and tragedy that brought each man through the doors of UGM. One man shared that his alcohol addiction began at age four when he was given alcohol by family members. Another man told of a life riddled with abandonment and violence.
The common thread in these stories of hurt is that each of these men has failed to build healthy relationships. Clients often have no understanding of what it means to be loved, let alone what it means to love others.
As leaders, we show and teach love through relationship, a process that requires vulnerability from both the client and the staff member. Our leaders must be willing to model vulnerability, establish trust and provide a safe place for our clients to learn who they are.
This approach may sound unconventional to those who see the men gathered under the bridge, who see the mess but overlook the person. Our community must understand that Salem’s homeless population consists of people with value, people made in the image of God. There are no “throwaways” in the world I live in.
Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was. His response, in its purest form, was simply to love God and love others (Matt. 22:36-40).
The frontlines of battle have opened my eyes to this reality. God has empowered me to love those society have deemed unlovable. He has allowed me to show grace to those who rarely receive it. He does this while humbling me and reminding me that I am only one tragedy away from homelessness.
Written by, Danial Ficek, Men’s New Life Fellowship Program Manager