Celebrating 50 Years of Service

a closeup of two people shaking hands.

Celebrating fifty years of service in 2024, the Cape Fear Gospel Rescue Mission, locally known as the Rescue Mission of Cape Fear, has made it our mission to help the hurting, homeless, often helplessly addicted, residents of Wilmington.

Over these five decades, the influence of this grassroots, faith-based work program and men’s shelter has reached beyond our small city to encompass residents from all over the country. Countless men have sought refuge through our doors and have found a warmth and acceptance they have rarely known. Men of all ages and backgrounds find purpose and accountability, and a sense of community here. They feel they are part of something again- and no longer alone.

Here we share a common goal: to alter the course of homelessness, one man at a time. By addressing their physical, mental, and spiritual needs, the Rescue Mission supports those who are willing to help themselves get back on their feet.

The Mission operates a time honored, Christ-centered program. Jesus loves us, regardless of mistakes made, promises broken- or how broken we often find ourselves. He is risen, so that we may have another day to rise ourselves. We offer an opportunity for these men to believe in the love that Christ has for them, with the hope they will learn to love themselves through HIM.

This program is straightforward, but not exactly easy. For participants it may feel rigid and repetitive at first, but as healing begins, we see folks thrive within the program’s structure. Typically some of these men have not held jobs, or even lived indoors, for extended periods of time. The transition from homeless to hopeful is an adjustment each man makes in his own time.

Without question, these men are welcomed into a caring, family-like environment. A warm place to sleep in a bedroom, rather than a dormitory-type atmosphere with meals served family style. Any physical or material comforts they may require are provided with grace and humility. Nice clothing – all season, shoes, toiletries- our men receive nothing but the best we can offer to them. We aim to improve their own personal outlook of themselves, as they quickly see and feel how the general public perceive them differently.

One of the requirements we have is that they are unemployed when they arrive here. The Rescue Mission’s thrift store operates solely through item donations which need to be transported, sorted, cleaned, priced and placed in our store every day.

The men’s volunteer work in our thrift store is a way for them to feel like they’re giving back. They’re not getting something for nothing. They’re working, much like you and I do, to maintain their housing and food, and this volunteer work period is a minimum of thirty days.

After the thirty day period is up, the able- bodied and mentally-sound residents are encouraged to obtain gainful employment outside the Mission. A significant percentage of residents come to us on disability income due to mental health issues. We have a social worker on staff to assist in coordinating longer term goals for those who may be unable to support themselves.

As a Christ-centered program, it’s a requirement for our residents to attend a chapel service daily, a Celebrate Recovery meeting weekly, and attend church every Sunday. We also strongly suggest and promote traditional 12 Step Recovery Programs.

We ensure that our residents have access to all mental health and addiction resources our community offers, including but not limited to Coastal Horizons, Delta, and Physicians Alliance of Mental Health. We collaborate regularly with The Healing Place for men needing to detox before coming to us. Due to our nearly skeletal staff, we frequently provide the men with bus passes to and from appointments when a driver is not available.

With such a small staff, and even fewer financial resources, we at the Mission are inspired to be better, to achieve more, to be able to serve more, and provide more assistance for those in need.

At present we have the ability to house up to 18 men. Due to vehicle shortages- we’re able to only transport 15 men at a time to meetings and community outings, which would certainly serve the better purpose. We invite more people in the community to share their time, talent and treasure with this special place that many of us consider a second home. Being a part of the Mission is not a job or a career – it’s an authentic place of kindness and connection where success can be measured one man at a time.

Organization/ Ministry Financials are always available upon request. Our current needs include another small vehicle, specifically for driving individuals to appointments (currently we have two requiring daily care with oncology treatment- assisted living in process), and we are in deseperate need of a mobile storage unit for the plethora of donations we receive daily. We’ve had numerous plans and estimates by local contractors to build a unit, but time is of the essence and financial resources are very limited.

An aspiration, goal, and gift to those of us who continue to devote our lives to improving those of countless men- require more resources than we have today. We need more staff. We need more space. We need more vehicles. Because we do make a difference in the life of every man that crosses the Mission’s threshold.

The true success stories are many and today those lives are a sight to behold. Also, there are those whom we’ve met and embraced repeatedly. Their journeys continue, and we are thankful to witness the unmistakable sprouting of a mustard seed in their hearts. And for that, we are beyond grateful to be a part of this Mission.

Always in HIM,

The staff of the Rescue Mission of Cape Fear