Jim and Annabelle Sumner are longtime friends of Union Gospel Mission of Salem.
Annabelle grew up around George Simonka, founding UGM executive director at our women’s shelter’s namesake. A dear family friend, George was also the delighted recipient of a home built by Annabelle’s father, whom he grew to know while her father served as a UGM board member.
A lasting impression
George Simonka firmly believed in changing a person’s life from the inside–out, not just their circumstances. This conviction left a lasting impression on Annabelle as she grew up.
“I’m thinking about how non-judgmental George was. I thought that was just amazing. When you experience that grace, you then give that grace,” reflects Annabelle, considering the favor that God has bestowed on each of us.
What to do with grace
Jim, who has lived much of his life in Salem, currently serves on the UGM board of directors, following the footsteps of his late father-in-law. “I do adhere to the notion of salvation and grace being readily available, regardless,” he says. “But once you’ve been saved and received that grace, you have an obligation to do something with it.” Jim is recalling the words written in the book of James, chapter 2, verses 14-17:
“My brothers and sisters, what use is it for someone to say they have faith when they do nothing to show it? Can that faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is in rags with not enough food for the day, and one of you says, ‘Good luck to you, keep yourselves warm and have plenty to eat,’ but does nothing to supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So with faith; if it does not lead to action, it is itself a lifeless thing.”
Much more blessed to give
For Jim, this ability to give time and treasure to UGM stems from faith harmonizing with responsibility as a Christian.
UGM’s volunteer lunches have always inspired good works for Jim and Annabelle. The joy of gathering with a variety of people who are also compassionate toward the lost and the last in our community lights a fire to share the love of Jesus. Often, though, the takeaway is the same. “The comment I always hear is ‘I get much more out of it than I give.’ And I think that’s always true,” says Annabelle.
Victorious over adversity
As they’ve engaged and supported UGM, Jim and Annabelle have personally witnessed futures rewritten on the faces of many who had called the sidewalks and parks of the Salem area home; those whose heads were bowed under the trauma they endured, but now stand victorious over their adversity.
“To see life so transformed on the other end of tremendous suffering, from bad choices or not…it’s encouraging,” says Annabelle.
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked,” Luke 12:48. If we have time, talent, and treasure at any level of prosperity, we are called to share with one another.
Together we can change the face of homelessness. Join Jim and Annabelle in changing lives from the inside out by donating today.