Rescue mission leaders visit Capitol Hill to address issues critical in aiding needy families
Washington, D.C. () – Rescue mission leaders from across the United States—who provide free services for thousands in need—were in Washington, D.C., March 17 to 19 to address public policy decisions that could slow or halt their ability to provide valuable services. The 100-year-old Association of Gospel Rescue Missions (AGRM) organized the gathering.
“About 275 rescue missions are members of AGRM, North America’s oldest and largest network of independent, Christian faith-based crisis shelters and rehabilitation centers,” said AGRM President John Ashmen. “Every day, we address the tragic conditions of those ravaged by abuse, imprisoned by addiction, or set adrift because of mental illness, providing practical help and pointing to lasting hope through Jesus Christ. Member missions’ work positively influences their surrounding communities in countless ways.”
During the gathering, 22 rescue mission leaders—representing some of the nation’s largest cities—and AGRM staff discussed public policy issues relevant to their organizations, met with Capitol Hill politicians to educate them about missions’ work, and prayed for the country and its leaders. “This event is part of AGRM’s larger ongoing efforts to share with national leaders the importance of rescue missions’ invaluable service to people facing the challenges of poverty, homelessness, addiction and abuse,” Ashmen said. “We also address public policy that could be detrimental to missions’ important work.”
A cap or limit to the charitable deduction, for example, would result in a loss of billions of dollars each year in private contributions to serve communities’ critical needs, he said.
“Everything rescue missions do for hundreds of thousands of people—feeding, sheltering, rehabilitating, counseling, life-skills programs, job training and more—would end up in the government’s lap. Frankly, with its black-hole debt, the government cannot take this on,” Ashmen said. “Moreover, the government does not know how—and definitely shouldn’t attempt—to handle relational and spiritual poverty, which are keys to unlocking the prison doors of destitution for so many of our citizens.”
AGRM’s Government Liaison Rhett Butler works throughout the year to speak up for missions in Washington, D.C., cooperating with like-minded organizations to combat legislation that would hamper missions’ efforts. In addition to focusing on the charitable deduction, in the past 12 months the association addressed an increase in nonprofit standard postage rates, and fought against the contraception mandate and for rights of religious employers.
“AGRM’s priority in this area is to educate congressional leaders, forcing them to take a second look at how the legislation they support and pass on Capitol Hill will affect rescue missions and the men, women and children they serve,” Butler said. “Because of missions’ work, thousands of people’s lives are dramatically and positively changing. Our desire is for government policy to encourage, not obstruct, their newfound journey to joy, meaning and productivity.”
Each year, AGRM member ministries serve approximately 50 million meals, provide more than 20 million nights’ lodging, distribute more than 27 million pieces of clothing, bandage the wounds of hundreds of abuse victims, and graduate more than 18,000 homeless men and women from addiction-recovery programs into productive living. AGRM, founded in 1913, offers radical hospitality in the name of Jesus.