Being A Light

Being A Light

Every third Saturday of the month, Neal and a group of volunteers from City on a Hill church arrive at Nashville Rescue Mission ready to serve those in need. For Neal, the desire to serve comes from a place of intimate knowledge of the pain and suffering many of those struggling with addiction experience. Two years ago, Neal flew out to California to bring his son home. His son was battling an addiction and needed help.

“It’s tough to watch someone you love struggle with addiction,” said Neal. “As we drove across the country headed back to Nashville, I told my son he had two options—he could either figure out a way to make it on his own, or he could go to Nashville Rescue Mission and get help.”

With gratitude, Neal says his son chose to come to the Mission. “The time he spent at the Mission opened him up to the Scriptures,” said Neal. “And while he did not complete the program, he did experience radical transformation. This was his turning point.”

One year later and life is very different for Neal and his son. His son has been clean for over a year now and continues to participate in Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery program. And Neal has started a church in the heart of downtown Nashville called City on a Hill.

“I spent most of my life in Los Angeles pursuing a music career. After years of struggling, we moved to Nashville in 1995,” says Morse. “And while I did find success in the genre of progressive rock, there was still something missing. I didn’t know what that was until 2002, when I became a born-again Christian.”

As Neal continued to write, perform, produce, and record music, his path increasingly revealed more of what his heart had sought all along. Yet he also began to find his career growing at odds with his faith.

“In prayer, God started speaking to my heart and it became quite clear that I was to start a church,” shared Neal. “So I did. In the midst of this, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about Nashville Rescue Mission. I’ve performed at their Friday night coffeehouse and started volunteering on a regular basis. As a congregation, partnering with Nashville Rescue Mission makes perfect sense. We are both in the heart of downtown and trying to connect those who are lost and hurting with a God who loves them.”

“Serving at the Mission has been a great experience for our congregation,” said Morse. “Not only are we giving back to those in need, our members are building

relationships and connecting with each other on a much deeper level. I’m so grateful for the Mission and the services they provide to those in our community who are in need.”

Nashville Rescue Mission is thankful for Neal, his church, and other volunteers like them in our community who are committed to giving back and helping serve those in need. 

If you’d like to learn about more ways you and/or your church can get involved, visit this link.

Mission in My Words: Charles Esten

Mission in My Words: Charles Esten

I grew up in Pittsburgh. While the homeless numbers there are much bigger than here in Nashville, I must say, for the most part, I was shielded from it. I do remember a time when our church hosted a breakfast for the homeless. Word spread fast and the turnout was huge.

It’s really hard to see so many people in need and not know how to help them. Simply knowing that the need for a meal is only a small part of what these individuals face.

I find myself asking, “What can I do to help?” Because not helping … that’s not an option. I am hesitant to give out cash, not sure if it is the best way to help. At times my family and I have handed out Subway gift cards—hoping it might provide a hungry person with a meal or two. I’ve also heard giving out local bus passes can be helpful. These things might help, but only for a few, and only for a short period of time. I’m left wondering … what is the best way to feed and care for the most amount of people who are in need?

In Nashville, the answer is Nashville Rescue Mission. The Mission provides meals, clothing, and shelter to over 800 men, women, and children in our community. And yes, I said ‘our community.’ I love this city so much, I moved my family here and we now call this home. Yet for many who live here, there is no place to call home.

A few years ago a friend invited me to be a part of an amazing fundraising event at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center called Music with a Mission. It was to help the homeless and benefit Nashville Rescue Mission. I was delighted to be a part of it. In the process, I learned more about the incredible work the Mission is doing in our city to care for those experiencing homelessness. Performing at the event was an amazing experience. I got to sing with the Nashville Symphony, and more importantly, I got to give back, by helping raise awareness for a cause I care deeply about.

The show Nashville is what brought me and my family to this wonderful city. In the show, my character Deacon is an alcoholic, who struggles with a relapse, along with many other difficulties. I know this doesn’t make me an expert on this issue. In fact, I know I cannot completely understand what the homeless men and women in our community face. But I do care and I still have compassion for them and what they are going through.

It’s why the work Nashville Rescue Mission is doing is so valuable. Through their network of support and resources, homeless men, women, and children in our city have a place to go. They have outstretched arms ready to love, care, and comfort those in need.

It’s also for this reason that I support the work of the Mission. They are giving hope to many who might otherwise be hopeless.

Charles Esten is a recording artist and actor, best known for his role as Deacon Claybourne on the popular show Nashville, now airing on CMT. Taking an innovative approach to sharing his music, Charles launched #EverySingleFriday exclusively on iTunes where he releases a new single every week.

Her Heart’s Desire

Her Heart’s Desire

Pregnant at age 12. Married at 13. Divorced at 25. Addicted to meth at 26.


Despite her pregnancy and marriage at an early age, Polly was still an overcomer. She graduated from high school with honors, attended college on a scholarship, earned her teaching degree, and found a teaching job she loved. She had everything going for her. That all changed when her marriage ended.

“I took on an extra job after I got divorced,” said Polly. “Between teaching and raising my daughter, I was tired all the time. Someone I worked with told me ‘I have something that will keep you from being tired.’ I took it and instantly I was hooked.”


Paying the Price

According to Polly, meth was “readily available and free.” But it cost her almost everything. Over the next three and a half years she lost her job, her car, her house, custody of her daughter, and was in and out of jail on drug-related charges.

“In February of 2007, I discovered I was pregnant. I wanted to stop using, but I couldn’t do it. I was living in a cinder block building, no power, no water. I slept on a box spring with no mattress until the day I went into labor.”


Miracle Baby

“Despite using meth every day I was pregnant … despite not having any prenatal care … despite my living conditions, my little girl was perfect,” said Polly. “I know that had to be God. She had to stay an extra week at the hospital for observation, but she had no side effects or permanent damage because of my drug use. She was a miracle baby.”

It was in hearing that first cry Polly knew she had to break free. “Her cry jarred something deep inside of me,” said Polly. “It was the first time in a long time I wanted something different. I was done with drugs.”

Polly’s mother and sister stepped in, taking custody of her daughter, while Polly went to a detox center. “After detox, I knew I needed to find a long-term recovery program. I received a list of 32 different places. I called each of them, and Nashville Rescue Mission was the only one that didn’t turn me away.”


Finding Hope

“I had been in church when I was a kid. I knew the process, but I didn’t understand what that meant for me. I found out when you don’t have Jesus you are just in survival mode. And that’s all I was doing in life until I surrendered to the Lord.”

“Through the classes, counselors, church services, preachers … the Mission’s program helped me understand what it meant to be able to choose to live for the Lord. Their program showed me who I was in Christ.”

“I had been at the Mission almost three months when I heard a still small voice during one of the services. I knew it was the Holy Spirit—telling me the only thing I needed to break free from these chains of addiction was Jesus. A couple of days later I surrendered my life to Jesus.”


Turning to Jesus

Polly thought she had it all together. “I was wrong. Jesus is the only one that can take the overwhelming desire for drugs out of a person’s heart. Today, I have no desire whatsoever for any drugs. I am truly free. He changed the desires of my heart. He gave me the desires He wants me to have. I have come to discover that life with Jesus is so full and rich.”

Polly graduated from the Mission’s program in May 2008. Besides setting her free from drugs, Jesus also has restored her life. Today, Polly and her husband, Craig, and their two daughters live in Corinth, Mississippi where they are active in their church. She also has a relationship with the daughter she lost custody of so many years ago and is now a grandmother. This past year, she regained her teaching license is now teaching at a local high school. Polly also works with Living Free Ministries to help women overcome their addictions.


Every day, women, just like Polly, walk through the doors of the Mission, desperate, hurting, and afraid.

Your gift today means these same women will be met with open arms, and welcomed into a place of hope and healing. You can make a difference.