History | Allentown Rescue Mission

(610) 740-5500 355 W. Hamilton Street, Allentown info@armpa.org

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History

Mission Founder

"Ten years ago I was called to be a Rescue Mission Worker. I said I could not do it," said Obadiah Becker, the Mission's founder, at a National Federation of Gospel Missions convention in 1908. "I wrestled with it for two years because I did not feel I was well enough educated. When I wrestled with the Lord, He laid it on my heart to work for the cause of rescue missions-a poor drunkard to wrestle with the work of God."

"About that time our little baby fell and struck the back of her head. Three weeks after the accident, she fell over, and one side of her body was completely paralyzed. I prayed to God that our baby might be saved."

Obadiah prayed that if his daughter would get well, he would take it as a sign to dedicate his life to rescue work."My prayer was answered," Obadiah explained. "The little girl is now running around, and I have consecrated my ife to the work of God."

Beginning in 1900, he and Mrs. Becker ran the Mission in rented apartments at 104 N. 7th Street, and four years later at 161 Hamilton Street. Upon inheritance of Mrs. Becker's family home at 14 N. 3rd Street, it was remodeled to accommodate 200 worshippers and lodge 78 men.

It has been located at 355 W. Hamilton Street since 1961. Since the early 1900's, the Mission's goal for each man is self-sufficiency. The 1906 Mission statement explained their work: "The rescue of men who have been wrecked by sin, and who are desirous, by the help of God, to lead Christian lives... It provides a home for those who want to lead better lives until such a time when Christian manhood is established, and it is safe for them to live elsewhere in a good home."

 

Rich History

Over One Hundred Years of Rescuing and Restoring Lives

For more than a century, the Mission has addressed the changing face of homelessness, tackling the root causes of homelessness, and helping to end homelessness one life at a time throughout the Lehigh Valley. Thousands have come to us and received life-changing help throughout the decades:

Battered soldiers returning from World War I were welcomed by the Mission. Thousands of hungry victims of the Great Depression were fed at the Mission in the 1930s.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the Mission aided many shell-shocked veterans of World War II and Korea. As the drug culture emerged in the 1960s and as serious forms of addiction increased in the 1970s, the Mission coped and adapted, striving to meet the needs of each man who came for help.

In the 1980s, the problem of homelessness became highly visible, due in part to the "de-institutionalization" of the mentally ill. Many people could not cope when they were put on medication and released.

Highly addictive crack cocaine and the disease AIDS continued to increase the complexity of homelessness in the 1990s.

 

TODAY

The Mission continues to reinvent itself to address the increasingly complex root causes and issues of homelessness. Many of our clients experience "dual-diagnosis;" they have both a chemical addiction and some form of mental illness. Staff is educated and experienced, professional and compassionate.


For more than 100 years, the Mission has been a place where men have begun to experience restoration with God, their families, and their communities.