Miami Rescue Mission/Broward Outreach Centers known as The Caring Place will celebrate 100 years serving the homeless and needy with the “I CARE” 100th Anniversary Gala on Saturday, October 15th at the Signature Grand in Davie. Describing it as the “Big, Bold, Beautiful Centennial Celebration,” the Rev. Ronald Brummitt, president of the Miami Rescue Mission, said there’s been “miracle after miracle” for the Kingdom of God since its founding in 1922 when the original couple arrived in Miami in a horse-drawn carriage, being obedient to the Lord.
The mission has always put God first in its outreaches, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in practical ways in the spirit of Mark 10:45. They now have over 600 residential beds and have held many street outreaches and banquets, serving tens of thousands. In the past year alone, Miami Rescue Mission and its supporters served over 700,000 nutritious meals, provided 220,000 nights of safe shelter, joined forces with over 1,000 volunteers contributing 10,000 volunteer hours and helped more than 100 men and women find jobs.
Recounting one of the miracles, the Rev. Brummitt and his wife, Marilyn Brummitt, vice president, recalled that when Dr. Frank and Maxine Jacobs assumed the leadership role in the 1970’s, the ministry had few finances and owed their property owners a lot of money. Jeff Tew, the mission’s pro-bono attorney at the time and now chairman of the board, thought they were going to have to “pay up or get out.” As they went into their meeting, Dr. Jacobs asked him, “Do you believe God is in control?” Then the owners decided we don’t need the property; it’s being used for good purpose and let them have it. “It was like a death and resurrection right there and they remained at that location for 35 years,” Brummitt said.
Once homeless himself, the Rev. Brummitt describes his own transformation as a miracle. Coming from an abusive home with an alcoholic father, it was after his service in the Army when Brummitt developed a drug addiction that left him homeless for two and a half years. “I came into this program on one of the coldest Januaries in Miami with temperatures in the twenties, but after a couple of days, I decided to leave. I had gotten into some altercations and didn’t like the place. I took my little satchel of clothes that I got here and was turning to go down the stairwell when I met a well-suited man I’d never seen before. He said, ‘Where are you going?’ And I said, ‘I’m out of here!’ Then he touched my shoulder and said, ‘Son, don’t leave. You don’t know what God has here for you.’ It was Dr. Jacobs and that was a pivotal moment. I was able to stick and stay, and 14 years later they selected me to be CEO to come after him… During my induction ceremony, Dr. Jacobs placed that same hand on that same shoulder and was praying for us.”
In a recent ceremony, the current Center for Men was renamed “The Caring Place Dr. Frank and Maxine Center for Men” in honor of these re-founders who formally incorporated the mission. And Esteban Bovo, Jr., Mayor of The City of Hialeah, recognized the Miami Rescue Mission with a plaque. “What I think is profound for us as policy makers and just as human beings,” said Mayor Bovo, “is that anybody could end up homeless. All it takes is not being able to pay rent, loss of job, or a medical situation where the bills mount up. We traditionally think it’s somebody who has a drug addiction, but the awareness is no that’s not always the case. It could happen to families, men, women, young children could end up homeless and that for us is very sobering. I don’t know how we tackle this issue if we don’t have programs like the Miami Rescue Mission. They have stood the test of time, and Rev. Ron and Marilyn, they’re the rock stars! It doesn’t work without their compassion and without their love… Those seeking help will find it at Miami Rescue Mission. Whether its serving food, whether its washing someone’s feet, whether its dental care, medical care, counseling, there’s so much that goes on here.”
Thousands of volunteers have participated in the mission over the years, including dignitaries such as Senator Marco Rubio, who helped serve the Thanksgiving meal and delivered the prayer at Miami Rescue Mission in 2014. “Throughout the 5,500 years of recorded human history, people have been tempted to put their faith in themselves. And that’s never been easier to do than it is now, when one silly video can make you an internet star. But we’re not called to serve ourselves. We’re called to put our faith in God and serve others. That is what the Miami Rescue Mission has been doing for 100 years,” said Sen. Rubio. “The number of lives rescued and families saved over the decades is impossible to know, but each one is infinitely valuable. Rev. Brummitt and his wife Marilyn remind us of the good that can come from living out our faith. Communities need institutions like the Miami Rescue Mission. They cannot survive, let alone thrive, if people – especially people of deep faith – are not standing ready to help their brothers and sisters in their darkest moments.”
A history forged by four couples
The mission in the past 100 years has been led by four main couples: the Schleuchers, the Ashes, the Jacobs, and the Brummitts.
In 1922, John and Zada Schleucher founded Grace Mission, holding their evangelistic meetings in tents and providing food and services daily. When The Great Depression hit in 1929, a Miami News headline indicated they were caring for 1226 people each day. The organization would change names several times before being called the Miami Rescue Mission in 1935.
Rev. McKinley and Marguerite Ash led the mission from 1947-1970, after originally doing ministry in jails and hospitals. They purchased a building with dormitory beds for 140 men, which was later expanded, operated several thrift stores and added broader services such as job training, medical services and more.
Allapattah Baptist Church helped keep the mission running after the Ashes retired. Then Dr. Frank Jacobs, the church’s minister of music, and Maxine Jacobs felt God’s call to take over the leadership in 1975 after beginning as volunteers. The mission was in rough shape financially and it looked as if it might go under until God started working through the Jacobs. A classically trained tenor and recording artist, Dr. Jacobs began singing to help fundraise and bring recognition to the mission, while his wife worked diligently in the office to pay off debts and settle accounts.
Then in 2004 the Jacobs decided it was time to soon retire and the Board of Directors selected the Rev. Ron Brummitt to be the CEO, serving alongside his wife Marilyn Brummitt. The Rev. Brummitt had been director of the Miami campus for 10 years and was named the president of the Miami Rescue Mission / Broward Outreach Centers in 2007. Marilyn originally worked as volunteer coordinator in 2002.
Dr. Jacobs mentioned that the history of the mission being husband and wife teams is unique and may be one of its reasons for success. However, he emphasized, “The ministry of rescue is an absolute Jesus ministry. It’s what the Lord Jesus Christ was about when he was here on the earth. You see it in the Scriptures. While other people were at the temple or big religious celebrations, where was Jesus found? He was found in the dirtiest, stinkiest places in the city. He reached out to the undesirables, the ones who were outcasts of society, the leper, the adulterous woman, those who had been rejected and forgotten. That was His ministry and I think that’s the reason it has survived.”
Making bold moves
In conjunction with the “Big, Bold, Beautiful Centennial Celebration,” the organization is formally changing its name to The Caring Place with the various centers under that umbrella. This includes the Miami Rescue Mission, the Dr. Frank and Maxine Jacobs Center for Men, The Annex, a Community Activity Center for youth, the Jeffrey A. Tew Education Center, Community Development Offices, an Administration building with a walk-in freezer and a recording studio for their weekly radio programs, the Broward Outreach Centers, nine residential multiplexes, a thrift store and a future family center planned in Miami Gardens.
Rev. Brummitt also announced, “We have made a very radical, bold decision not to take government funding in our Broward Center so we can return to our roots to be able to freely share the gospel of Jesus Christ and also to have a longer-term Regeneration Program.”
The decision means walking away from $1.8 million in funding from the Broward County Board of Commissioners’ Homeless Initiative Partnership out of a total operational budget of about $20 million. Admitting this is a step of faith, Brummitt said, “Our hands are shackled when you take county funding.” He explained that they’ve been unable to operate their Miami discipleship model in Broward due to intake requirements, limitations on the number of days someone can stay and only allowing them to offer faith-based programs on a voluntary basis where there is no incentive for residents to participate in chapel and educational programs.
“Mental health can help, education can help, but God is the real transformer,” said Marilyn Brummitt. She explained that when people enter the faith-based Regeneration Program in Miami from emergency beds, they know now they’re in school, have to abide by the guidelines and are going to be a part of ministry.
“It’s teaching them the soft skills of getting and keeping a job,” added Rev. Brummitt. “When you have a service assignment helping in the kitchen, what’s the number one rule? Show up on time. Have a good attitude. Take instruction. Show initiative. All those things an employer is looking for besides the skill set. And it’s all the things they’ve lost because they haven’t kept a job for a number of years.”
They’re also putting together a multi-church team in Broward called CREW (Christians Ready Equipped and Willing to put feet to evangelism) patterned after what they do in Miami. “We’ll take one of our vans and go out to the pockets of homelessness. We befriend them, give them water and pray with them and say, would you like to make your life different? Come on in.”
The mission has partnered with hundreds of churches over the years. In fact, VOUS Church was started by lead pastors Rich & DawnCheré Wilkerson within the Miami Rescue Mission Annex. DawnCheré Wilkerson said “We had a dream in our heart to plant a church and Ron and Marilyn believed in what God was calling us to do. They generously offered our small launch team to meet weekly on Sunday nights in their Wynwood location as we prayed and planned to launch the next year in a middle school close by. Seeing up close the compassion, vision and faithfulness of the Brummits deeply inspired us during those early days and our admiration for them has only grown year by year.”
Every month hundreds of leaders from VOUS meet on a Saturday morning for prayer and then disperse across Miami to serve 20-25 different organizations and outreaches. “We have been serving at MRM before our weekly services ever began. There’s nothing like it. We love hearing the stories of life transformation. It’s clear that people are not projects to Ron and Marilyn. Generosity is their privilege. MRM welcomes leaders from across South Florida, and it’s a powerful thing to see so many different people uniting together for one cause” said Wilkerson.
Potential Church also partners with Miami Rescue Mission. “We do a promotion at Thanksgiving where we ask the congregation to “Flip Us A Bird,” encouraging them to go and get a turkey, a pie or a ham,” said Pastor Troy Gramling. “It’s a play on words and I try to cast a vision, so the congregation knows these people are valued and their circumstances don’t undermine who God’s created them to be.” Their Mission Director estimates Potential Church has contributed about 50,000 turkeys over the past 15 years, feeding over 100,000 people through Miami Rescue Mission. “We also are one of their faith partners and go down there a couple of times a month to minister, serving in their kitchen and shelter as part of what we call Mission Saturday.”
Gramling said, “Sometimes we take for granted the amazing people God’s put into our community to make it operate, especially in the area of ministry. Miami Rescue Mission is an incredibly scaled ministry and to do it for that long and continue to effectively minister in so many different ways, it’s a huge benefit to our community… This is one of those things we can all come around and say this is a God thing, it’s a good thing and it makes a difference in the lives of a whole lot of people.”
Considering all God has done, Rev Brummitt, said “It’s been quite a ride and I believe the best is yet to come.”
If you or your church would like to get involved, The Caring Place welcomes those who would offer their time, talents or treasure. There are a number of volunteer focus groups serving women, mentoring men or prioritizing prayer. Donations of food, clothing or furniture are always welcome, and they ask that you or your church would prayerfully consider partnering with the ministry as a monthly giving partner. For more information, visit www.caringplace.org. If you would like to celebrate with them on October 15th, please get your tickets at www.caringplace.org/gala.
For more articles by Shelly Pond, visit goodnewsfl.org/author/shelly/