While the Bible is at the core of the LifePath Christian Ministries program, it is in more of an academic sense, its program director says.
LifePath Christian Ministries has roots in the rescue mission movement – offering “soup, soap, salvation and shelter,” as program director Steve Brubaker notes.
“We’re still largely about those things,” he says. “I think our perspective on what resources we want to bring to our guests has changed a little bit. We wanted to get a little deeper, to kind of move from a preaching station to a relationship-based ministry.”
That’s done through a Bible-based program that helps men and women restructure their lives through faith. The program began with the Men’s Ministry and has been expanded to the Women’s and Children’s Shelter as well.
Not magical, but life-changing
Tina Hildebrand, who worked with similar programs elsewhere, was brought on board as director of Women and Family Ministries a year ago and has a deep love for the program and all it entails.
All women at the shelter are required to address their physical and mental health, Tina says, but through this program, some of the women are doing so through a faith-based focus. The deeper relationship with Christ helps give the men and women a different perspective and helps them to break patterns of bad decisions, she says.
“We deal with a lot of attachment theory and compulsion issues, basically looking biblically at, where did we get broken and how did that impact my life?” she says.
The class looks at how that carried through their lives, how they ended up in their compulsion cycles and how they break those cycles.
“You’re of immeasurable worth because God values you.”
“Jesus shows us a better way of living as we understand more clearly how we became broken,” Tina says.
And while the Bible is at the core of the program, it is in more of an academic sense, not used to preach at the members. Steve calls it Biblical Life Management.
“Our guidebook is the Bible, but somehow we wanted to stop preaching at people and instead teach people concepts from the Bible,” Steve says. “You’re of immeasurable worth because God values you.
There’s the thread of redemption – even if I’ve been on a path for a long time, or hurt people, I can renew how I think about myself because I need to see how God sees me.”
“It’s not the program that’s magical,” Tina adds. “It’s the relationship with Christ that’s life-changing.”
Small results add up
Both Tina and Steve have seen results from the program that make them very proud. But, as they both point out, those results aren’t always a huge, all-at-once change – it’s more about how the small changes put the men and women on a path to a better life direction.
“People look for the big changes, but honestly, when I see a woman who had this repetitive pattern of making the same poor decisions, when I see her get it and without even saying anything, I observe her making a different decision, that is what excites me,” Tina says. “It’s the little decisions that they make every day that you don’t always notice that actually bring about that true life change that’s going to stick.”
Steve tells the story of a resident – an autistic man who was isolated and anti-social, and had a hard time opening up – in whom he could see a small change that made a big difference, as the gentleman went through the biblical program.
“He was standing in the cafeteria one day doing his task assignment, and he dropped an egg on the floor. That would have sent him into a tantrum or into isolation – he’s a perfectionist.”
The man started laughing to himself and then he said, “Is there a five-second rule on an egg?”
“This guy is showing a sense of humor and a willingness to not be so hard on himself. That’s hard to quantify, but that’s progress in how he thinks about himself,” Steve says. “That’s the kind of stuff that’s a little harder to get noticed.”
As Tina puts it: “Life is not lived in the headlines, it’s lived in all the small print in between.”