April 2021

Dear Friends,

This could be the most important letter I have sent.  We have a brand new focus at River of Life Mission.  But when you hear it, it may not seem profound.  But our focus on it as a staff and ministry has already had radically profound effects.  And we think you will be really encouraged as you hear it.

I can’t even begin to tell you the profound affect that the staff, the mission, and the people of Hawaii have had on my life.  I feel that my whole world has been opened to a new wave of love and devotion, and God is showing me things in life and ministry that are so exciting and new.

I have been asked for years, “what is the solution to homelessness?”  I have seen others struggle to answer this same question.

Well, my days of struggling to answer that question, are over.  After several months with the amazing staff and board of River of Life Mission, I believe God has shown us solution for the homeless situation we see around us every day, and it is quite simple.  I was driving in to be interviewed for television and I was praying as I drove.  I said, “God, I want to be able to answer the question, I know the question is going to come, and I want to have a good answer that not only centers our work at the mission, but also inspires others that they can help too.”  And as I drove, I believe God gave me the answer.  And our new, re-newed, moving forward focus at the mission will be one word…. FAMILY.

In this short letter I will briefly tell you how I see it flushing out in reality, and then I will share with you one parting story on how this simple, maybe un-profound word and focus – is having radically profound effects on me, our team, and the guests we serve at the mission.

First a focus on family starts with me as a husband and a father.  My prayer is that my family and my children will grow into a radical love for people in need, in a way that we serve one another and serve others.  And make an impact in this world together.

Secondly, a focus on family then moves into our staff, volunteers and board at River of Life Mission where the family that we are to one another will move beyond the mission walls in a way that transforms our community.

Thirdly, our focus on family will be a relentless work that we make all attempts to see happen for our guests and those who have struggled on the streets.  I truly believe there is no one better to help someone struggling, than family.  Many people, who find themselves on the streets, remain on the streets because of some blown out of proportion rift with family, that soon turns into a wedge.  And then that guy who is against us all, whose #1 strategy is to isolate us and alienate us, has won.  But we say “No way!”  We will overcome.  We will stick together, we will rise up, and we will see healing happen in our own lives and in the lives of people desperately in need.  And we will do it in our own families, our family at the mission, and pray and work towards it in the lives of our guests.

And now, the story…

For years, we have been receiving phone calls from family members on the mainland, if we had seen a man named Larry.  For years we would see him at points, but the opportunity to connect him with family just seemed to escape.  One of our amazing staff, Aleni, would constantly remind Larry, “your family wants to connect with you.”  Some family even flew to Hawaii to try to find Larry, but still nothing.  With our focus as a staff on “family”, now we were all in on this.   We began with prayer.  Aleni saw Larry and talked “family” again.  Shevy received a phone call from a sister looking for Larry again.  All of a sudden Larry sees Aleni again and Larry says, “Aleni, I am ready to go home”.  Wow, just let this sink in again.  “I am ready to go home”.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so!  Miracle.  Absolutely!  And then as you can imagine this story took a bunch of twists and turns including Larry falling off a wall and severely injuring himself to a point where we even began to lose hope.  But we prayed, and family members came, and covid and quarantine did not prevail.  Last Monday we saw Larry fly home.  And Aleni got to see him off at the airport.  Just pause for a second and think about the story you just heard.  I believe with all my heart that this is one of the most radical stories of victory I have witnessed in my life.  This kind of thing just doesn’t happen.  But it did happen!  God performed an absolute miracle, Aleni gave an above and beyond effort, and one man is home.  Can I tell you that we have more of these stories happening right now.  I can’t wait to tell you more, because they are coming.

I am so proud of the work God is doing through an amazing team of dedicated staff, volunteers and board that have made a simple decision – to serve Jesus and be family, in the hope that lives will be changed.  And lives are radically being changed.

We are praying for the same in your family, in the family of people where you work, and with the people you run into that have a need in their life.  Would you join us in The Mission of FAMILY?  It will change you and it will change the world.

Paul R. Gates

Executive Director