A Curve Ball for the Ages



“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice
together.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26

I just had a major curve ball! It’s a statement we use when life takes a sharp
curve or change, in a new direction. But depending on your position on the
baseball field, a curve ball in life can have very different meanings. If you’re a
batter, you could be swinging for a homerun and realize that a “curve ball”
means you just struck out and lost the game. But if you’re a pitcher, a “curve
ball” can mean you just won the game and your life just took a whole new

Well, today we are all the pitcher and I am elated to throw a “curve ball” with
you that I think will make you leap for joy, because the victory is not just on a
field, but in the life of a man who was on the verge of despair.

This “curve ball” began when we first went mobile with meals and ministry. Our
staff member Aleni, met a new guest named Bobby. Over the next few days and
a few meals, Aleni built a relationship with him. He shared Jesus with him and
eventually got Bobby into a rehab. On May 10th we posted a picture of Bobby
with Aleni as he was headed off to get help. We didn’t hear much from Bobby,
but had heard that he had not stayed in the rehab, which broke our hearts.

But where did Bobby go? This is a regular challenge we face in helping the
homeless – sometimes they just disappear. We work so hard to stick with people
interested in making transition, because sometimes if they even walk around the
corner, you may never see them again.

Now here is the beauty of all the transition steps we are taking at the River of
Life Mission. We have been working hard to adjust and go mobile, in order to
work toward having the ability to spread out and grow. To meet people in need
where they are. To work with churches on an even broader scale, partnering
together to have an impact in each community around Oahu, through the power
of the Holy Spirit and the local church.

Months ago we started a conversation with Sunset Beach Church on the North
Shore, on how we could work together to make an impact in that specific
community. To provide meals at a Hub Spot where the ministry is happening by
the people in the local church, similar to the dining room experience we had at
the mission for 35 years. Where Jesus is shared, and services are provided like hot meals, showers, haircuts, clothing distribution, and possibilities for life

Our mission at River of Life has never changed, it is just radically growing. And
the beauty of what we experienced in our dining room in caring for the poor and
sharing Jesus, is now starting to happen all over the island through a new type
of partnership with people and the local churches. We don’t have it all figured
out yet, but we are getting there quickly, and God seems to be blessing it all,
beyond even our prayers and wildest dreams.

Now back to Bobby. Through our discussions about partnering with Sunset
Beach Church, several of us went there to see the homeless outreach they were
doing and how we could work together. As we arrived, we ran into a man that
was in desperate need of help! He had been severely beaten. When we
inquired as to what happened, he said some people came by when he was
sleeping in the night, and just started kicking him in the face.

In all my life, I had never seen someone so beat up. His wounds were so severe
that his entire face was swollen to twice the size of normal. One eye was black
and the size of an apple and swollen shut. He had other cuts and bruises all
over his face. This guy was beat up worse than any boxer or fighter, yet it didn’t
happen from a fight, but just trying to get some rest on the streets.

Then the team from Sunset Beach Church started extending care to this man.
And all of a sudden, I hear someone say, “that’s Bobby”. In my mind, I thought,
that can’t be Bobby. There is no way. It looks nothing like him, and we met him
on the south shore and now we are on the north shore. But sure enough he
started to talk, barely, and it was Bobby!

Friends, this is why we do what we do. The streets are brutal, harsh and deadly.
But praise God this story, as of today, has a happy ending. I just got a call from
another one of our staff that just ran into Bobby at the Waikiki Stabilization
Rehab Center, and he is healing up and seems more ready than ever to get his
life back together. When I asked our staff how Bobby got to the center there,
he said “Sunset Beach Church got him here”!

Please hear me on this! That statement alone is why I am throwing this curve
ball and rewriting this newsletter to you today. “Sunset Beach Church got him
here” made me leap for joy at a victory only God could do. You see, as we go
out, and work together – and it will take all of us together – we can see massive
victories in people’s lives!

At River of Life Mission, we have always been about going above and beyond
and serving amazing 5 course, 5 star quality meals to people in need, as well as some amazing ministry in our dinning room. Now the meals remain, but the ministry is exploding and going out all over the island through partnerships and
conversations on how to not only reach more for Jesus, but how to reach many
many more. Bobby’s story is just one glimpse of all that is possible, and ahead!

Please help us continue to share and proclaim that River of Life Mission has not
“closed” or “moved” as the headlines tried to construe. And thank you to all of
you that have continued to support us in the midst of rumors and headlines.

To be honest the headlines did hurt, and our giving took a significant hit, so if you
feel led to go above and beyond to get us back on track financially, we would be
grateful. And we promise to keep serving more and keep building more
partnerships – that ultimately extend Jesus to the poor and desperate.


Pastor Paul Gates

Executive Director