His name was John, and although he was my grandfather I never met him. He was deceased before I was born. In his young adulthood he was homeless. He was a "hobo." There was a difference between a hobo and a bum. A bum does no work at all. A hobo would perform menial tasks in exchange for hot meals and a comfortable place to sleep for the night. John, my grandfather, was a hobo - a "king of the road."
I was told he traveled from Pennsylvania to the west coast in boxcars (purposely left empty and unlocked by the railroad for this purpose). He would periodically warm himself by hobo campfires that dotted the American landscape along the railroad tracks. He eventually returned to Pennsylvania by the same mode of transportation. He was homeless, but by trade he was a machinist. Still, he was homeless. World War II changed that. Now married with children my grandfather, John, found work as a machinist in the war effort. He made good money. He owned a car. His four children (including my mother) grew up, moved out, married and bought homes. John moved from homelessness to employment to a humble level of prosperity. He and his wife even began a small side business selling children's clothes.
But, to my understanding, he died at age 59 and entered a Christ-less eternity. I have no evidence that he had a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. In all his wanderings as a homeless individual, I have no indication that he experienced a place like the Atlantic City Rescue Mission. Although he surely received food and clothing due to the kindness of others, I don't know if he ever had the Gospel of Jesus Christ presented with these gifts. There's no family story of my grandfather receiving food, clothing and a Gospel message at a Mission or any other place. He died at age 59, and things could have been so different - physically and spiritually.
I have served on the Board of Trustees of the Atlantic City Rescue Mission since 1998. I see a dedicated staff of 50 ministers to the "John Does" of society giving food, clothing, shelter and more to the homeless. These provisions warm the hearts of needy people and open their minds to the presentation of the life changing Gospel, which is always readily available at The Atlantic City Rescue Mission.
Pastor Bob StahlerChairman of the BoardAtlantic City Rescue Mission
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