Alumni Series: Mike and Merci Continue to Walk in Freedom

Mike and Merci

"I had been avoiding the Mission the whole time I was homeless. I didn’t spend two nights there back when I was homeless living in Wallace Park." -Mike

"I was scared and hesitant about going to UGM, but it was the best decision I ever made. My life is completely changed in ways I never could imagine." -Merci

When you give to Union Gospel Mission of Salem you’re investing in life-long change. Read a couple stories from past residents who have experienced enduring life-change.



When Mike turned to UGM in 2008, he was leaving behind 10 years of homelessness, much of which was spent in the woods of Salem. Arrests drug offenses, and assault marked his record.

“I had been avoiding the Mission the whole time I was homeless. I didn’t spend two nights there back when I was homeless living in Wallace Marine Park,” he says.

But one day, Mike allowed his son to drive him to the Mission for help. This one step of faith led to many more. As caring staff mentored and counseled him, they introduced Mike to Jesus Christ. When God answered Mike’s pleas to remove his addiction, his faith grew. Over time, God began redeeming what was lost, including estranged family members.

“Whenever I was at church, whenever I was at the Mission, I would pray that I would be reunited with my family,” says Mike.

Today, Mike’s life is made more whole by the presence of his loved ones. He remains sober, working, independent, and in pursuit of Jesus.

“We tend to forget that the Lord is in charge of everything. Nothing is impossible for God,” he says.



In 2020, Merci graduated from UGM’s New Life Fellowship program. Since then, in almost every respect, she has been transformed–she doesn’t even look like the same person our staff met on the day she arrived.

Even though Merci desperately needed help, she was scared and apprehensive on her first day at Simonka Place, our women’s shelter.

“It was the best decision I ever made… The staff and lovingkindness of perfect strangers was what gave me hope–it saved my life!” Merci says.

Life before the Mission was upended for Merci. “I was a drug addict, I was homeless; I lost my marriage, my kids, my relationship with my kids and my mom. I was just not in good shape, and I had bad PTSD,” she recalls.

While all the classes, counseling, support, and case management provided was important, the love and freedom she found in Jesus was foundational.

“When I was at Simonka Place I learned about Jesus and how he died so that my sins would be forgiven. The opportunity to get to know my Savior and Lord Jesus is something that is priceless it has changed my life completely…” Merci says.

It has been two years since Merci graduated from UGM. Today her long-lasting life-change is demonstrated by her sustained sobriety, full-time job, relationships, and other healthy habits. UGM couldn’t be prouder of Merci. To God be the glory.

Read more stories

From where I began [at UGM], I’ve come almost full circle because I’m mentoring a guy down there right now.
After about four years it got to the point where I had to make a choice; I was either going to be homeless and live on the streets or continue living with him.
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