History 1

Our History

The Fresno Rescue Mission was founded in 1949 as a non-profit, Christ-centered, evangelical charitable organization with the purpose of meeting the physical and spiritual needs of our area’s destitute. The Mission was born out of a vision by the Rev. Clifford Phillips, a prayer meeting, the “Fisherman’s Club,” and the loving and concerned hearts of many local Christians.

Parenthetically, it should be pointed out that the Fresno area, post WWII, was a mini-Bible belt with many zealous evangelical Christians. From this same group of men who founded the Fresno Rescue Mission, came Christian radio stations like KBIF and KRDU; Christian campgrounds Hume Lake and Hartland; the Fresno Bible House (now Berean); our sister mission, Fresno’s Evangel Home; and many other churches and para-church ministries.

Cliff Phillips was an Indiana farm boy who was raised by a devoted Christian mother. But he only became a Christian in his early thirties, while attending a meeting at Chicago’s Paul Rader Tabernacle. While doing business in Chicago, Cliff, who was early in his Christian experience, was burdened by the plight of homeless people.

Before coming to Fresno after WWII, he worked with the Sunshine Gospel Mission and the Pacific Garden Mission. Early on, Cliff saw the need to work with the homeless of the San Joaquin Valley.

Initially, the Mission worked only with Skid Row alcoholics and transient farm laborers. As time passed, the Mission developed into the multipurpose organization that it is today. We currently reach out to not only the homeless, but also those who are drug- and alcohol-dependent, impoverished families, neglected and abused children, single transient adults, and other displaced persons in the greater Fresno County area.

Below is some of the Mission’s history. We offer a special thanks to Allan Larson, former Board Member, who wrote many of the wonderful stories that follow.

Fresno Rescue Mission Through the Years

Christ-Focused, Community Strong (Present)

June 6, 2016:   Don Eskes becomes the new Chief Executive Officer of the Fresno Rescue Mission.  His brief autobiographical history is shared in the June edition of Lighthouse News.
Thumbnail - Don Eskes

 

 


April 29, 2016:  
 Rev. Larry J. Arce Retires as Chief Executive Officer of the Fresno Rescue Mission.  Rev. Arce faithfully served the Mission as the Executive Director for 18 years.  He will be missed.  His farewell letter appears in the May edition of Lighthouse News.

 

January 2015  – The Fresno Rescue Mission celebrates 65 years of service!

 

End of May 2014 – The Fresno Rescue Mission launches The Summer of Hope 90 Day Challenge to raise funds for the lean summer months.  The goal was $250,000 per month, with a goal of $750,000 in 90 days!  The community rallied behind this first-time campaign.  They not only met the goal, they exceeded it!  In 90 days, the community of Fresno raised $788,803 (105.2% of goal)!!

July 2014 – Mission at the Mission hosts World Changers.  By this time, Mission at the Mission had recorded 1039 attendees using the facilities in just over 12 months, with 1957 total bed nights, 4,749 meals served, and 1,920 volunteer hours completed by guests from our community and afar.  A great start for this newest addition to the Fresno Rescue Mission’s ministries. Story and pictures featured in the August edition of Lighthouse News.

October 2014 — The Sonshine Ranch is sold. Story and pictures highlighted in the November issue of Lighthouse News.

Look What God Has Done ... Welcome to the Miracle (2012-2013)

(2012-Present)

About 2

Identifying Ricky Rescue  and introducing Case Management to our Community Care Ministries– May 2012

In the 50’s

  • Ricky’s average age was 50.
  • He was addicted to alcohol/wine.
  • He possessed work and social skills.

Today

  • Average age of 20-30.
  • Addicted to drugs.
  • Has no work or social skills.

To address these shifts in the population we serve, we needed to change our practices. In May 2012, we introduced Case Management and new ministry elements, all with the goal of continuing to love as Christ loves, while minimizing or eliminating programs and services that enabled bad behavior. Case Management provided the means to track an individual’s progress from our first meeting with him/her and throughout their journey with us – From First Steps ministry components, to Next Steps Processes (individualized for specific needs of specific individuals), to Programs (Rehabilitation and Recovery education and training for those who needed a comprehensive approach to tackle addictions before entering back into the community.) Within the quarter of 2013, we witnessed God-Sized results. In addition to finding housing, many began establishing ongoing services, seeking employment and reconnecting with family.

Super Thrift Store and Cars rebranded to Fresno Rescue Mission Thrift Store and Cars – April 2012

Disney/Hanes “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” Sock Drive – July 2012 through  September 2012

About 3

The Sock Drive campaign was inspired by Walt Disney Picture’s family movie, The Odd Life of Timothy Green (released in theaters on August 15, 2012.) In collaboration with Hanes Socks and the Association of Gospel Rescue Mission, the Fresno Rescue Mission provided sock drive boxes to theaters, churches, ministries, and businesses for the collection of new men’s, women’s, and children’s socks. The campaign’s slogan: Let’s Help a Life Grow! The following sponsors made the campaign a HUGE success, collecting over 6.000 pairs of socks for ministry use: Anlin Industries, Bad Bud’s, Beautiwood Furniture, CBS47, Circle K, Der Manouel Insurance Group, DLL Insurance, Edwards Fresno Stadium 22 & IMAX (Riverpark), Fresno Rescue Mission, Fresno Rescue Mission Thrift Store and Cars, New Harvest Church Women’s Jonah Bible Study, Newcomers of Fresno Planet Hair, 76 Twins, Sierra Vista Cinemas 16 (Clovis), State Farm Insurance (Reedley), Soma Christian Church, Valley Business Bank.

Kids On A Mission

About 4

K.O.A.M., an independent organization, was formed out of the Fresno Rescue Mission. Originally, their goal was to raise $9,000 to assist in building a playground for Rescue the Children. Ultimately, they were able to raise $75,000 in a little over a year to pay for the majority of playground expenses. Serve. Grow. Give.

Watch TIME-LAPSED VIDEO of the construction process

Rescue the Children:

Renovation continues, with over 1,600 volunteers participating. Funding for Phase One and Phase Two is complete.

Women and children moved into the community on October 4, 2012.

The Grand Opening

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Held June 7, 2013, celebrated the generosity of our community, who raised over $7,000,000 for the building and renovation of this amazing community.  We continue to see God’s miraculous works on these grounds.

Introduction of SPERO, tracking software

The Mission continues to improve ministry efforts through the use of technology.  SPERO software was custom designed for our needs, to not only capture data in all of our ministries, but to better track our overall successes and to improve productivity and communication as our ministries grow throughout the city.

June 5, 2013
Mission at the Mission, is launched with a GRAND OPENING  (located in our old Craycroft Youth Center facilities.)  Its purpose:

Equipping and deploying God’s people to Fresno’s front-line ministries; 
helping believers “be the church” each and every day!

Bethesda Project is envisioned and presented to leaders and entities throughout our community.  The vision is designed as a step in addressing the growing concerns of homeless encampments by stopping the cash flow to those begging on street corners to fund their addictions, empower cities with leverage to break the constraints they feel in enforcing laws against camping within non-designated areas, and to funnel individuals to the services that will help them reconnect with society.

We Believe ... The Time Is Now! (2010-2011)

June 2010 – The announcement of the closing of the Craycroft Youth Center

The story appeared in our June edition of Lighthouse News. In 2005, the County had begun discussions about transforming the way they place children – from “congregant care” to a new “family-to-family” program. In 2010, the County finally announced the new program, and the Craycroft Youth Center was closed on June 30, 2010.

Discussions and changes for the future were already well underway.

  • The Mission formed the Rescue the Children Board of Directors and moved forward with plans for a new Women’s and Children’s Community.  The goal is to move the Emergency Family Shelter and Samaritan Women to a new facility and incorporate a Rescue the Children program for women and their children.  After reviewing 15 different locations, the Mission has settled on the Vagabond Inn on Parkway in Fresno, and the property closed escrow in 2010.
  • Moving forward with a capital campaign to raise funds for the renovation of our new Rescue the Children campus, as well as raise funding for the first two years of operations, establishing an endowment for future sustainability.
  • A second transition home opened for Samaritan Women, doubling the capacity.  Samaritan Women also expanded the programs and classes they offer.
  • The Fresno Rescue Mission was selected to create a respite care facility (for men), in partnership with local hospitals.
  • A special women’s prayer team was formed, consisting of representatives of several churches, ministries and service organizations.  When trying to determine who should head up the prayer team, it was the consensus of the group that the Holy Spirit would always be the Lead!

About 6

April 20, 2010 – Offer on the old Vagabond Inn is accepted

October 20, 2010 – Conditional Use Permit is approved

God blessed us in miraculous ways, pulling the community together to support us.

November 10, 2010 — Escrow closes

November 11, 2010 – The keys are turned over to the Fresno Rescue Mission and we’re on our way!

About 7

Pictured: Howard Duck; Jeanette Duck; Eleanor Holtermann, Dan Holterman (Family who previously owned portions of the property), Jim McKelvey (Legal Counsel, Fresno Rescue Mission) and Partor Bob Brown (Retired Chief Operating Officer, Fresno Rescue Mission)

 “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
— 
Mark 9:23

2011 – Renovation & Adjustment

Renovation, renovation, renovation!

Fundraising continued – purchase and renovation of community completely paid before the grand opening!

Program elements are developed, revised, fine-tuned!

Tours continue… volunteers are recruited…

Building on Faith, Hope and Excellence (2009)

A special logo is designed to celebrate 60 years of service to God and our community:

About 8

We evaluated our strengths and honed in on our beliefs: “WE BELIEVE…

… In the hope of Christ as our Foundation, and that with God all things are possible!

… In the hope that every child can grow up in a loving environment!

… In the hope that every man and woman can put behind them the mistakes and fears that keep them from moving forward towards a positive, fruitful life!

… In the hope that every family can live together in an environment free from substance, child and spousal abuse!

… In the hope that every community can be free from gangs, drugs, violence, and crime and that our community can be restored!”

Samaritan Women came under the wing of the Fresno Rescue Mission

Providing us an opportunity to minister to women with the same programming and care we are currently able to offer men. We reported the news in our January 2009 newsletter.

Building Community (2006 - 2008)

2006: New Website Introduced

About 9

The Fresno Rescue Mission was excited to be challenged with new goals for the future and challenged to make new connections in the community. With that came the desire to put on a new face. We updated our logo, our brochures and our website. 2006 was off to a great start!

2006: Mission Partner Luncheon – A New Name

About 10

The Fresno Rescue Mission hosted the first Mission Partner Luncheon (with its new name), February 2006 (previously called Heritage Partners). This special luncheon takes place three times a year to recognize faithful supporters of the Mission’s ministries, to provide ministry updates and to offer a venue for the “Friends of Rescue” to invite guests who wish to learn more about their community and share in this time of celebration.

2006: 1st Annual Healing Hearts Relief Golf Tournament

About 11

Fresno Rescue Mission partners with the Peace Officer’s Chaplaincy of Fresno County to help mend hearts that have been broken, healing our city one life at a time! The first tournament was held on May 19th, 2006. In the years following, the dates have changed, but the purpose of the event remains the same.

2006: 1st Annual Open House & Messenger Tour Concert

About 12

In 2006 these events were held separately (Open House was introduced July 15th and the Messenger tour Concert was held September 2nd, on Labor Day), but since that time, the two events have been combined, creating a spectacular party atmosphere! The Mission opens her doors for tours, great food, fun, prizes, music from talented bands, and words of encouragement from special guests and the spiritual leaders throughout our community. Every year we change and grow, so this event has been our greatest opportunity to share how God has blessed us!

2006 July 4th BBQ is blessed with special volunteers

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In 2006, InterVarsity’s Fresno Institute for Urban Leadership (FIFUL www.fiful.org ) began volunteering for this annual event. Their presence added a gentle and youthful flavor to this outreach ministry. They return each year and bless our guests with their smiles, their warm hearts and energetic spirits. We are so thankful to have them!

2007: Beacon Society Introduced

The Beacon Society was introduced on March 24, 2007, as the new auxiliary founded to support the Fresno Rescue Mission. The group consists of young adults in their 20’s and 30’s who meet to serve Jesus Christ through various service projects, community awareness and fundraising opportunities for the Mission.

2007: The Academy Expands its Ministry

  • Program expands from 12 mos. to 18 mos. (12 months live-in program and 6 months Aftercare/Transitional Program).
  • The number of men enrolled in the program increased from 70 to 90.
  • The mentorship program doubles in the number of volunteers in an attempt to meet the growing needs.
  • The new Literacy Class begins (December 2007) – elements added to increase the size and effectiveness of the class.
  • A second Transition Home is acquired to meet the needs of Aftercare.

About 14

2008

  • A new look for the Fresno Rescue Mission website. New features: Ability to sign up for on-line newsletters and e-mail blasts; listen to our radio program on-line.
  • The Foundation Fresno Rescue Mission launches a website through Crescendo, giving our donors and advisors assistance in planning legacy gifts.
  • The Fresno Rescue Mission was named a runner up in the Acton Institute’s Samaritan Award. The Fresno Rescue Mission was subsequently featured in World Magazine.
  • Our first annual “One Night” sleep-out to bring awareness to National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.
  • Literacy and GED classes become mandatory (March 2008) – Community partnerships with The Fresno County Library, Wells Fargo Bank and the County GED program make this possible. By December 2008, eighty (80) men had participated in either the literacy or GED programs and eight (8) had successfully challenged and passed their GED exams. Two men scored above 96% overall. One of the students in the literacy class became a winning entry in a city-wide poetry contest!

About 15

  • Transition Homes are sold and an apartment complex is used for transitional living space, making it possible to meet the needs of a growing aftercare program.
  • The Academy joins forces with the Fresno Mayor’s Gang Prevention Initiative, offering outreach services to those wanting to be free of gang associations. Services include: gang tattoo removal, substance abuse treatment, job training placement, educational services, mentoring, anger management and mental health services. The Academy is used as a referral site for those expressing an interest in a recovery program and the initiative program acts as an extended resource for our program participants wishing to take steps in gang disassociation. It’s a partnership with a winning outcome for all!

About 16

Time of Introspection & Redirection (2000-2005)

2000: Property Purchased

Purchase of the Union Pacific property bordered by Ventura Street, G St. FRM property line and the UP track property was approved: $325,089.00 – January 9, 2000. The very next month the purchase of the land was tabled due to a dispute over cost per sq ft.

2001: Academy Trailer

About 17

The need for an Academy Trailer was presented – January 2001. Installation of the trailer, which continues to serve as a classroom for the Academy, was completed in 2001.

2001: Property

The property on San Benito and G Street became available for sale. The board approved an offer of $100,000 with this intent to exchange it for property elsewhere in Fresno – April 2001.

2001: Corporate Resolution

Remove buildings from property located on San Benito and ‘G’ Street.

2001: FRM Foundation – By Laws discussed

Dale Renberg working as a consultant for the Mission on the project – May 2001.

2002: Strategic Planning

A committee was formed – March 2002.

2002: Donor Development

The need for a Resource Development Department was discussed – April 2002. Donor Development Department staffed end of 2002. Donor Development team formed, consisting of staff and volunteers.

2002: Lighthouse Guild

A new women’s auxiliary, “The Lighthouse Guild,” was formed in October, 2002. The purpose of the Guild is to influence women to become part of the Fresno Rescue Mission, promoting community awareness, fund raising and service projects.

2003: Concert: “Sons of the San Joaquin” Perform

About 18

1st major fundraiser. The event was originally scheduled for May 2nd, but was delayed 1 month due to rain. June 6, 2003.

2003: The Foundation Fresno Rescue Mission is established

The Foundation Fresno Rescue Mission is formally established. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide trusted charitable estate planning services to help meeting personal planning goals while furthering the work of the ministries and programs of the Fresno Rescue Mission. This includes oversight of new businesses established for the purpose of supporting the Fresno Rescue Mission.

2004: Fresno Rescue Mission Hosts AGRM Convention (again) – May, 2004

2004: Fresno Rescue Mission Launches “RESCUE Spirit Bar”

About 19

Larry Arce’s dream of the Fresno Rescue Mission having its own candy bar came to fruition in May, 2004, when the RESCUE Spirit Bar was launched. Manufactured by DeBas Chocolatier, a local Christian company, the Spirit Bar produced income to directly benefit the homeless.

2004: On-Line Christian Bookstore

Another way to earn income for the Fresno Rescue Mission: The Spread the Word On-Line Christian Bookstore was launched.

2004: Donation Station – July, 2004

About 20

The Fresno Rescue Mission established a “Donation Welcome Station” in the southwest parking lot. This provided donors with a specific location to drop off in-kind donations. The men in the recovery program act as “goodwill ambassadors” as they serve our donors.

2004: The Academy Introduces the Career Development and Computer Learning Center

About 21

2005: Fresno Rescue Mission Participates in Planning to Establish New Family Shelter in Clovis

There is a need for a family shelter is Clovis, due to the number of homeless families living in motels and cars. After much discussion, the Fresno Rescue Mission determined the shelter was not feasible at this time.

2005: “Lighthouse Treasures” Thrift Store Opens

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The Fresno Rescue Mission opens its first thrift store, adjacent to the Emergency Family Shelter on G Street. (March, 2005)

2005: Safe Area Opens

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The Fresno Rescue Mission, in partnership with the Fresno Police Department and Crime Stoppers, established the “Safe Area,” an alternative to booking intoxicated individuals into the County Jail.

2005: First Annual “In God We Trust” Music Festival

About 24

A group of Christian Businessmen, through their Thursday lunch bible study, sponsored the first In God We Trust Music Festival at Coombs Riverbend Ranch. The proceeds benefited the Fresno Rescue Mission, One By One Leadership, Valley Teen Ranch and Save Mart Cares. Featured entertainers were Sandi Patty and Point of Grace.

2005: First Annual Birthday Party for the Homeless
(August, 2005)

2005: Super Thrift Store With Cars Opens
(September, 2005)

About 25

The Foundation Fresno Rescue Mission established the Super Thrift Store With Cars (name changed in 2012 to the Fresno Rescue Mission Thrift Store and Cars) to generate income for the Fresno Rescue Mission. Located at 181 E. Sierra Avenue, Fresno, this thrift store includes a car lot. Proceeds will benefit the ministries of the Fresno Rescue Mission and allow for future growth.

2005: Fresno Rescue Mission Partners with the City of Fresno to Establish City Steward Program (September, 2005)

About 26

The Fresno Rescue Mission, through Fresno Works, partnered with the City of Fresno to develop the position of City Steward. Funded by a $100,000 grant from the City, Fresno Works employs graduates of The Academy. The City Stewards act as liaisons, answering questions and giving directions to visitors of Downtown Fresno. Once a week the City Stewards also work with Parks and Recreation to ensure the medians in Downtown Fresno are kept clean.

2005: Discussions Regarding the Future of the Craycroft Youth Center – Family To Family Program

2005: Fresno Rescue Mission Included in Chinatown Revitalization Project Planning

Decade of Expansion (1990-1999)

1990: Property Purchased – Vacant lot purchased

About 27

(Access route to the Youth Center)  June 1990.

1990: Dedication Ceremony

Madera Rescue Mission – July 21, 1990.

1990: Fire – Blue House

About 28

The House sitting between the Warehouse and the Family Shelter burns down, endangering the shelter.

1992: Building Completed – “Craycroft Youth Center” – October 1992

About 29

Open House December 5, 1992

1993: New TV Program – Channel 34 – March 1993

1993: Foster home for girls is explored

 1994: Property Purchased

2.5 Acres to the North side of the Mission goes into escrow – August 1994.

1994: TV Ministry Expands – Channel 43 September 1994

 1995: Mc Call Property: 20 Acres are for sale

  • Board explores the possibility to purchase – March 1995.
  • Offer made on property – April 1995.
  • Property in escrow – May 1995.
  • Construction begins for “CYC Sonshine Ranch” – May 1995.

1995: CYC Expansion

About 30

  • Opens office building – March 1995.
  • Construction/Dedication of:”CYC Playground” – June1995.

1995: Property Purchase

About 31

Vartanian House Purchased from the Poverello House – November 1995.

1996: Grand Opening – “CYC Sonshine Ranch” – October 1996

1998: Resignation – Rev. James & Janice Taylor – April 1, 1998

1998: Director Appointed – Rev. Larry Arce – (Appointed  as Director / CEO)

About 32

1999: “Shoe Box” Ministry Begins

Children in the Shelter are given a Bible, stuffed animal and miscellaneous items. The Ministry was sponsored by an outside donation – July 1999.

A Time of Change (1969-1982)

1969: Groundbreaking – 315 ‘G’ Street – “Emergency Family Shelter”- New Facility

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About 36

About 34

1970: Property Dedication – 315 ‘G’ Street – “Emergency Family Shelter”

About 37

March 22, 1970

Demolition of the old house took place in the summer of 1969 and ground breaking soon took place. The new building was designed for office space, a chapel, motel type units, and accommodations for house parents. Many volunteered their help. Doley Clark was again the contractor. Dedication of these new facilities took place on Sunday afternoon, March 22, 1970.

1970: Superintendent Retires – Mr. & Mrs. C.H. Phillips – March 23, 1970

 

On March 23, 1970, after twenty-one years, Superintendent and Mrs. Phillips retired from the active ministry of the Mission and its women’s auxiliary activities.

1970: Positions Assumed – Ernie & Adelaide Gabrielson, Superintendent / Director of Women’s Auxiliary – March 1970

About 38

Ernie and Adelaide Gabrielson were appointed by the Board of Directors to assume the duties of Superintendent and Director of the Mission.

1970: Outreach Ministry for Children Begins “Mobile Gospel News Chapel” April 1970

About 39

In April, 1970, another outreach of the Mission was directed to the children of the neighborhood. A bus was purchased and named the Mobile Gospel News Chapel. Soon this bus proved to be inadequate and a trailer type Chapel was ordered and put to use. Several other Mobile Chapel trailers were purchased as the work moved ahead. One such Chapel was presented to the Mission as a Memorial to a son who had died as a result of an automobile accident. These Chapels have also been used at the Fresno District Fair each year to bring the Gospel to many children and their parents.

1970: Property Expansion – 315 ‘G’ Street – Bank building next door sells property to the Mission

Several years after the construction of the Family Shelter, the American Express Agency property next door to the Shelter became available and one dear sister of the auxiliary gave the $5,000 needed to purchase the property.

It is on this site where a new building has been erected to house the Women’s and Children’s Work.

Rezoning of the property for this use was accomplished at a very minimum expense and no trouble with the City Planning Commission. Praise the Lord! The cost of the new building and added requirements for on and off site improvements ranged between $35,000 to $40,000.

1976: Superintendent Passes Away – Mr. Ernie Gabrielson – June 9, 1976

When Ernie Gabrielson assumed the office of the superintendent of the Mission in March of 1970, the work was not new to him. Ernie had been on the Advisory Board from the beginning of the Mission and down through the years had served as a Director. At the time of his appointment, Ernie was serving as President of the Board of Directors. He closed down his business, sold the property, and began a full-time ministry at the Mission along with his wife Adelaide, who took on the responsibility of directing the Women’s Work. Ernie knew and loved the work of rescue, both adults and children. Ernie was doing some repair work on one of the Mobile Chapels when he had his heart attack. Later, the evening of June 9, 1976 at 7:15 p.m., Ernie slipped away to be at home with his Lord, free of pain that for so many years had wracked his body.

1976: Interim Leaders Appointed – Jack & Louise Fast

A past Director, Jack Fast and his wife, Louise were appointed by the Board of Directors to be interim leaders of the Mission.

1976: Superintendents Elected – Ed & Lucille Carnell – November 1, 1976

Rev. Ed Carnell and his wife, Lucille, after ten years at the Sacramento Rescue Mission, accepted the call to come to Fresno and assume their duties November 1, 1976.

1977: Addition to Family Shelter – Reopened February 1977

1978: Resignation – Ed & Lucille Carnell – October 31, 1978

1978: Interim Leaders Appointed – Rev. & Mrs. Clifford Phillips

Rev. Clifford Phillips, founding superintendent, was asked to be acting superintendent until December 31, 1978.

1979: Superintendents Elected – Rev. James & Janice Taylor – January 1, 1979

This gave the newly elected replacements, Rev. James Taylor and his wife, Janice, time to make the shift from Pastor of a church in Selma to their new responsibilities at the Mission beginning on January 1, 1979.

1982: Fresno County Fair – Ministry Ends – (1954 – 1982)

1982: Host of the I.U.G.M. – Third time the event is hosted in Fresno – May 1982

1982: Mobile Children’s Chapel Ministry Ends – (1971 – 1984)

A Season of Planting (1964 - 1968)

1964: Groundbreaking – 310 ‘G’ Street – Ceremony & Prayer Walk – October 1964

Redevelopment and Another Building – A New One This Time!

Oftentimes changes seem to be a beneficial requirement. So redevelopment in various forms and areas come to the city of Fresno. The Mission was faced with a relocation problem. Several locations were considered and after much negotiation with property owners and the City Planning Commission, the 310 ‘G’ Street site was purchased and rezoned for Mission purposes.

About 42

The plans for the new Mission building were ready by September 1964, and approved for construction with former Board member and contractor Doley Clark in charge. On a Saturday morning, November of 1964, following the Saturday morning prayer breakfast, a large group marched from 911 ‘G’ Street to the new site for the ground breaking ceremony. Board President, Dr. W. G. Winter, Superintendent C. H. Phillips and contractor Doley Clark each turned a shovelful of dirt. With a good program of music, short speeches and a prayer, the new site was dedicated to the Lord for the purpose of reaching “the least, the last and the lost” for Christ.

The construction of the new building was literally a “leap of faith.” Cliff Phillips said in latter years, (to paraphrase Cliff), “that we only had enough money to dig a hole in the ground, put in a concrete floor and lay block up to ground level.” As men worked, the funds came in. (There were no “capital campaigns, government grants or resource development teams in those days). Much of the work was done by converts of the mission working under the supervision of contractor Doley Clark.

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Cliff Phillips, who was from a construction business background was always quick to jump in with a hammer or paintbrush. His wife, Estelle, on more than a few occasions, shook her head in dismay when Cliff would come home with his suit speckled with paint, scuffed up or torn from his construction work.

Ed Moulet, a homeless man on skid-row, Fresno, was led to the Lord by Cliff Phillips one day as they were going to work on the new mission building. Cliff immediately put him to work on the building. Ed, saved all of several hours, was a little hung-over from the previous nights extended “bender.” Climbing up on the partially constructed scaffolding he promptly took a fall on the hardpan landing on his shoulder and partially on his head. Ed was a pretty tough old boy; he got up, shook himself off and went back to work. He never missed a day of work, was sober from then on, with a glowing testimony of God’s saving grace, until the day he passed away about 10 years later.

About 41

An interesting note: In the downstairs cafeteria at 911 “G” Street and for a few years at the downstairs cafeteria at 310 “G” St., the men ate standing up. It seems odd to us today, but the thinking was that “if a fight or riot broke out, it was easier to get in and break it up.” As you might guess, in the early years, especially in the heart of China Town, where there was literally 6 bars to a block, … the times were a bit “raucous.”

1965: Property Dedication – 310 ‘G’ Street – Mission’s 16 year Anniversary Observed

The observance of the Sixteenth Anniversary of the Fresno Rescue Mission in April 1965 climaxed with the dedication of the new Mission building.

1965: Emergency Family Shelter Ministry – Using old house across the street from the new Mission

About 40

Occasionally, families in distress dropped in at the Mission for help but no accommodations were available. This provided another challenge for the Mission to face. A house across the street from the Mission was purchased. This served for some months as a very inadequate means of shelter. Soon plans were under way for a new building. Plans were approved by the city of Fresno, including the rezoning of the property for that purpose.

1966: Host of the I.U.G.M. – April 30 – May 4, 1966

1967: Fire at the Mission – Fire destroys linen and box room, part of the upstairs bathroom and dorm

Fishers of Men (1949 - 1963)

Fishers of Men (1949 – 1963)

1949: Mission Opens – 916 H. Street 

The invitations had been sent out for a big wedding feast. The responses were limited. The excuses for not coming were many. The Host was disturbed. He wanted a full house. What would He do? That’s it! He would send His staff into the out-of-way and public places giving a compelling and personal invitation to anyone who would accept.
Matthew 22:1-10

Looking Back with a Purpose

Into the wintry, cold, and rainy night a survey party of two looked for a point of beginning. Huddled in doorways, recesses of buildings, and against walls and fences trying to keep warm were the persons who were eligible for this compelling and urgent invitation. Both sides of the railroad passing through the downtown area presented the prospect of a constant flow of new persons to whom the invitation could be given.

A Beginning

Challenged by these scenes, the survey team of Dr. Dwight Trowbridge, Ophthalmologist, and Clifford Phillips, Building Contractor, gathered together a group of men to form a Board of Directors and Advisory Board. As in the Biblical pattern, seven men made up the first Board of Directors, with thirty-six men serving on the Advisory Board. All of these concerned men have since gone to their eternal rest. Thank God for each one of them!

The first Board of Directors was made up of the following dedicated men:

  • Roy L. Larson, President.
  • Clifford Phillips, Superintendent.
  • Carl Gustofson, Treasurer.
  • Glenn Newton, Secretary.
  • Dr. Dwight Trowbridge.
  • P. J. Ardelean.
  • G. Tom Reeves .

The following remarks are taken from the Articles of Incorporation of the Fresno Rescue Mission:

“The purpose for which this corporation is formed are as follows: To establish and operate a mission for the purpose of reaching the unfortunate with the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of their souls; to assist in the feeding and clothing and lodging of those who are in need of the same; to glorify God in the salvation of souls, the edification of Christians through the teaching of the Bible as God’s Word, and the promulgation of the Christian doctrines; the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures; the Virgin birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His death in atonement for the sins of the world; His bodily resurrection and ascension; salvation only by faith in His shed blood and the imminence of His return; to establish, maintain and conduct schools for the religious instructions of the young and to further religious and charitable work.”

The “Church In Overalls”

And so the Fresno Rescue Mission became the downtown arm of the church or the “Church in Overalls”, where the doors swing open to all those who pass by. There is always a welcome awaiting those who come through its doors. Here, then, is a place where mankind can come out of the cold of the night or heat of the day and find comfort and nourishment for the body and soul. Many a wayward man or woman, hearing the message of God’s love for mankind, readily accepts the invitation; for they are hungry for the real love that only Christ can give.

The Mission stands ready to help those who want to be helped. Work is given them around the Mission for a few days in order that they might become strengthened in the Lord. Their food, clothing, and lodging are taken care of in return for their work. Those with medical needs are attended to on the several nights a week when the Medical Clinic is open for visits. Here under the direction of Dr. Dwight Trowbridge and the voluntary services of concerned doctors and nurses of this community, the medical needs of thousands of men (also women and children) have been ministered to during the past thirty years.

1949/1950: KRDU Radio Ministry Begins

Late in 1949/1950, a radio ministry was started; a fifteen minute program on Radio Station KRDU in Dinuba. Other stations were added and dropped as their effectiveness was determined.

1950: Mission Moved – 1807 Tulare St. – Able to feed and house men! 

God blessed in a marvelous way and the work began to grow. Soon the place was packed with men and women who needed both physical and spiritual help. After six months at this place we realized that a larger place was needed. So in January 1950, we moved to larger quarters at 1807 Tulare Street. Here we have more room, a kitchen where food is prepared and sleeping quarters for a few men.

1952: Mission Moved – 911 ‘G’ Street 

A move to 911 ‘G’ Street was made in September of 1952, but not without much advance work. This property was purchased in April of 1952 and much time and effort was spent in repairing, remodeling and painting.

1952: Women’s Auxiliary – “Fresno Rescue Mission’s Women’s Fellowship” 

October 31, 1952 marked the organization of the Fresno Rescue Mission’sWomen’s Fellowship (now the Auxiliary) with Mrs. Estelle Phillips, President; Mrs. Tom Reeves, Vice President; Mrs. Arthur Falch, Secretary; Mrs. John Pedersen, Treasurer; Mrs. James Morey, Sewing Chairman; and Mrs. Edna Petersen, Prayer Chairman, and Mrs. Clifford Smith, Social Chairman.

1953: Ranch Purchased – “New Hope Ranch” (80 acre ranch in North Fork) 

After about a year at 911 ‘G’ Street, the need to move the converts to a new environment for training became a burden. And in December 1953, an 80 acre ranch near North Fork was purchased; a paved road right to the property, electricity, spring water, three dormitories, a church seating 250 people, two good houses, shop, garage, chicken houses, everything needed for the project in mind.

1954: Fresno District Fair – “Booth Ministry” – (1954 – 1981)

For many years the Fresno Rescue Mission had a gospel ministry presence at the annual Fresno County Fair. The purpose was, first of all, to be an instrument of evangelism. During the years the Mission had mobile chapels, taken to the fair for the purpose of evangelism – often with the help of Child Evangelism Fellowship (the children.) Many early Child Evangelism pioneers – like Emma Popp – were an important part of this ministry.

Part of the booth was set aside as a prayer / counseling room. Gospel tracks were given out by the thousands, mostly in the form of “gospel bombs.” Those were gospel tracts rolled up in brightly colored cellophane. Crowds of kids were then “bombed” by FRM staffers throwing gospel bombs into the mid-way.

Only eternity will tell of how many were won to the Lord through this ministry.

1955: Host of the I.U.G.M. – May 1955

1959: New Hope Ranch – Property Sold