It was indeed a Good Friday for 2,000 of South Florida’s poor, needy and homeless April 10. The Miami Rescue Mission celebrated “Thanksgiving in April” that day by feeding 1,200 in Miami, 400 in Hollywood and 400 in Pompano Beach.
“Today was a good day. Everyone enjoyed themselves. We gave them a big plate of food – barbecue chicken, coleslaw, rice and beans and a cookie,” said Donna Jean Matthews, public relations associate for the Miami Rescue Mission and Broward Outreach Centers.
Every person who attended the event also received a Hope Tote.
These small survival kits contain a toothbrush, toothpaste, new underwear, socks, hygiene items and more.
“Because Easter is symbolic with the washing of feet [at the last supper], we also washed the feet of the homeless today,” she continued. “We offered foot care by podiatry students from Barry University and diabetes [and] blood pressure screenings by students at Miami-Dade. Local hairdressers also performed ‘beauty day’ for the women.”
The Miami portion of the event also featured performances by Christian dancers, singers and musicians, such as a young contemporary band from Lighthouse Church.
Why do they do this?
“At each of these events the Gospel is given,” said Matthews. “We invite people to come into the program. [On April 10,] about 15 men came in and a few women.”
The mission’s program for men, which can assist up to 240 men at a time, lasts between six months to two years. Typically, the program helps 160 men per day in the areas of education, counseling, life-skills and career and job assistance.
The women’s program lasts six months long. They usually care for women with children, but the program now cares for single women in their 40-bed facility as well.
“We care for them spiritually, physically and] educationally [through the Jeffery A. Tew Education Center],” she said. “We’ll take them to get a driver’s license. We care for the whole person and want them to get back on their feet, back in society.”
The Miami Rescue Mission is said to be one of the oldest and largest providers of vital services to the homeless community in South Florida.
The mission began in 1922 when John and Zada Schleucher moved to Miami after graduating from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The young couple started the Miami Rescue Mission, which was then called Grace Mission, to provide needy people with “soup, soap and salvation,” according to the mission’s website. The first mission in Miami, the Miami Rescue Mission survived through the 1926 Hurricane, the Great Depression and World War II, helping the poor along the way.
John continued to preach at the mission until his death in 1952 and Zada died in 1969.
Although the Schleuchers have gone to be with the Lord, their lives still impact others for the cause of Christ.
Because of their hard work and sacrifice, the Miami Rescue Mission has been able to help the poor and suffering through events like “Thanksgiving in April” for 87 years.