By Rev. Cheryl Cook-Posley
We can all agree that over the past 15 months we’ve had more time than we’d like to focus on our homes. Whether it was the tattered sofa, dated appliances, the chipped paint, or the other small mishaps throughout the house that we once managed to ignore, it was all front and center and further neglect was no longer an option.
At first glance we thought, “hmm, I’ll just get some caulk or a gallon of paint and tackle the issue myself, how hard could it be? Some new appliances, a new couch; a spruce here, a tweak there and voilà, the place will look like new.”
Then we discovered that the pesky nail pops, separation in the wall seams, and flaking paint were the result of a much larger problem: foundation issues.
If you watch HGTV or any DIY-video, you know the first thing to do when embarking on renovations is to inspect the foundation. Any self-respecting, legitimate ‘do-it-yourselfer’ knows that the under groundwork must be done before the above groundwork can begin. The soundness and integrity of the structure must be in place before the paint, before the installation of flooring, before the furniture is rearranged, before hanging art and before you begin landscaping the yard. The foundation must be firm, solid, and secure.
This is a major tenet of the Mission as we work to serve and support persons experiencing homelessness, poverty and food insecurity. We are unapologetically “compelled by our faith”,1 to walk in our calling in covenant with the Lord as spiritual architects, craft-persons and life-renovators. As a result of divine transformations, our alumni are equipped and empowered to stand firm. They are gainfully employed, have achieved self-sufficiency, most are in their own homes and one is newly married.
Unlike the “Housing First” approach, which prioritizes housing and basic necessities before confronting substance abuse issues, Central Union Mission is committed to “Wholeness First”, and the belief that addressing the root causes of homelessness is key to sustained self-sufficiency. This approach matches supportive services to the needs of the individual. It provides ongoing support, mitigates recidivism, and promotes family reunification by targeting foundational areas. Taking a strength-based approach, we target each individual’s spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, educational and economic (employment/housing) needs.
The priority is to focus on the inside, like the old gospel song says, “There is something on the inside, working on the outside—oh, what a change in my life.” Certainly, this is what Rev. Edward Mote, Pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church in Horsham West Sussex in the United Kingdom was thinking when he penned, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” It is believed that this popular Christian hymn was inspired by and draws largely on Christ’s parable of the wise and foolish builders. In the parable, Christ speaks of the foolish builder who built his house on sinking sand while the wise builder built his on solid rock. When the storms came, “[t]he rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house (built on sand) and it fell—and great was its fall!”2
The Mission is intent on cultivating storm chasing disciples, by focusing on prepping the soil. We shore up the foundation through study, worship and counseling and employ the 66 Books which make up the Holy Writ, while rebuilding each person into a stable structure, “steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that [their] labor in the Lord is not in vain.”3 If you want to sponsor a man or family through this extreme makeover, we welcome you to join us. Bring your spiritual spackle, hammer and nails and contribute to this rebuilding effort to transform lives and add to the Kingdom of God.
- When darkness veils His lovely face I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ the Solid Rock
I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.4
 Joe Mettimano, President/CEO Central Union Mission-Welcome and Staff Introduction, September 2018
(The Holy Bible-The Gospel According to Matthew 1989)
 1 Corinthian 15:58, International Standard Version
 Edward Mote, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less, Horsham West Sussex, United Kingdom 1834
Comments? Email: CCook-Posley@missiondc.org
|| Dr. Cheryl Cook-Posley is senior director of Central Union Mission’s Workforce Development & Education (WDE) program. She leads PATHWAYS: Innovations in Employment and Education, the Mission’s workforce development initiative for guests experiencing homelessness.
Dr. Cook earned a doctor of ministry in urban ministry from the Wesley Theological Seminary, a master of divinity from Howard University School of Divinity, a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on policy and evaluation from L. Douglas Wilder School of Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University and a bachelor of science in political science from Arizona State University.Through WDE, Mission Men transition from a state of dependence and homelessness to long-term economic self-sufficiency through employment permanence. WDE places an emphasis on entry level-to-intermediate positions in the science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] fields, hospitality, culinary, labor, administration and Green industries. The Mission seeks to educate, engage and employ men in positions of promise that enable them to achieve economic and employment permanence.