Upon walking through the front door of the Hendersonville Rescue Mission on Maple Street, you’ll notice a plaque to the immediate right.
It explains the founding of the organization in 1981 and names those who helped make that happen, but at the very bottom is a motto that drives everything the nonprofit does: “Any agency can put a new coat on a man, but only Jesus Christ can put a new man in the coat.”
Executive Director and CEO Rev. Anthony McMinn, who has been in charge of the Mission for the past 18 years, believes in that sentence and adds that there is so much more to the Hendersonville Rescue Mission than just a place for people to find warmth from the cold.
“What we want to happen for the people who come to us for help is that we want to see lives transformed and broken people made whole,” McMinn says. “We are not a hospital. We are not a babysitter. We are not a mental health facility. We are not a drug treatment center, but we will send people to where they need to go to get the help they need. What we offer people is a place where they can come to eliminate the root cause of what brought them here. We want to offer them the time and space they need to break the cycle that has found them needing a safe place to stay for the night.”
Every day of the week the Mission is open to provide overnight shelter to those in need as well as a meal for anyone who is hungry. They also offer resources to overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol, free medical assistance or help obtaining their Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED).
In return for this assistance, at some point someone is bound to bring up the topic of salvation. “You don’t have to be a Christian to receive our help, but we feel compelled to offer that gift,” explains Mission Operations Director Rev. Tim Jones. “We welcome people of all faiths and the lack of faith here because that is what we feel we are meant to do.”
Those who need overnight shelter are required to provide a photo ID, not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, complete at least one assigned chore and attend chapel service after dinner. Before turning in for the night, all guests are asked to bathe using the provided soap and towels.
Johnnie Black, the men’s shelter supervisor, takes the time to talk with each new arrival. “I give them a chance to talk as well as provide someone to listen to them, but I also explain what our rules and expectations are,” Black says. “They may not want to clean the shower or sweep the hallway when they are here, but just having a task that they are responsible for gives a person a sense of structure, discipline and accountability where maybe they didn’t have it before. Our rules are in place to make our facility as clean and safe as possible.”
After lights out at 10pm, motion sensors are turned on in the hallways and alarms will sound if anyone leaves their dormitory. At all times, 14 video cameras monitor the public areas and residents agree to a search of their belongings to ensure no weapons, drugs or alcohol are on the premises.
Guests may initially stay at the Mission for three consecutive days while they are evaluated to see if they could benefit from participating in a 21-day program or six-month discipleship program. Those seeking help with substance abuse issues can enroll in an eight-month recovery program. Anyone needing help getting their GED can meet on site with representatives of Blue Ridge Community College, and once a week volunteers from the Good Samaritan Clinic offer preventative medicine and treatment for minor ailments.
To accomplish all these tasks, the Mission relies on donations from the community. “All good and perfect things come from God, but sometimes we do have to go buy them,” Rev. McMinn says. “We rely on the kindness of the community to help this community. Through their generosity we are able to help people, change lives and make this a better place for everyone who lives here.”
Hendersonville Rescue Mission PO Box 1512, Hendersonville, NC 28793, 828-697-1354. www.hendersonvillerescuemission.net Certified by the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions