From Homeless with Cancer to Finding Hope and Healing at the Mission


When Michael arrived at Union Gospel Mission of Salem, he had just completed a round of chemo for pancreatic cancer. Michael’s use of prescribed medical marijuana to ease his symptoms had “brought about a lot of bad choices, and it essentially put me where I was at — homeless.”

In fact, Michael was no stranger to bad choices. He had struggled with methamphetamine addiction for 30 years, and had tried several recovery programs with no success. But after being turned out on the street, he had no expectations from UGM other than a warm place to sleep.

“Then I met one of the guys in the program and developed a friendship with him,” Michael remembers. “I had walked away from God, but now I felt prompted to start walking back to Him.” Since joining the New Life Fellowship program, Michael has devoted himself to his classes and entered into deeper relationship with the Lord and with the people around him. “I’ve always thought, ‘How can Jesus forgive me for what I’ve done?’ I didn’t think I was lovable and I pushed people away. I’m finding that I don’t need to do that. I am lovable and I’m not in a boat by myself.”

By the grace of God, Michael continues to recover from his cancer and his addiction. He hopes to stay on at UGM as an intern when he completes the program and “be a part of something bigger. I want to see where God takes me.”

Especially in light of his cancer diagnosis, Michael admits that — were it not for your gifts to UGM — he probably wouldn’t be alive today. “I personally appreciate everything that you do here for us,” he tells you. “If you’re not sure that you’re making a difference by donating, you should come down here and check out what’s going on!”

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