HOPE: The Strong Anchor

My wife and I recently watched “Cinderella Man” starring Russell Crowe as Jim Braddock — a world-champion boxer from the 1930’s. I think it has become one of our favorite movies. For me, one of the most memorable scenes is probably one of the least predictable. 

Joe Gould - played by Paul Giamatti

Joe Gould - played by Paul Giamatti

Braddock’s trainer, Joe Gould, (played by Paul Giamatti) confirms a match between Jim and the world-champion, Max Baer. Braddock’s wife (played by Renee Zellweger) puts on her best outfit and heads straight for Gould’s apartment ready for a fight. She pounds on his front door, accusing him of lining his own pockets by putting her husband in danger. When Gould finally opens the front door to this screaming woman, she realizes the Gould’s barren household is just about as broke as her own. 

“I didn’t know,” she says. 

“That’s the point,” Gould responds. “You’ve got to keep the gloves up.”

This metaphor is right up there with, “Don’t let them see you sweat.” It’s a tactic to portray to the world around you that you’re alright. No matter what is exploding around you, you act unfazed. 

Some nights when tucking my kids into bed, they proceed to tell me they’re scared — scared of the dark, scared of the shadows, or of just being alone. This is when I try to have my own deep “Cinderella Man” moment and inspire them with this answer: “You can only be brave when you’re scared.” Even at age four, to be brave is something they truly desire.

Now, what does any of this have to do with Visalia Rescue Mission?

For the men and women we serve, “keeping the gloves up” is impossible. Maybe their addiction is raging for all to see, or maybe they join our Life Change Academy right out of prison, or straight off the street. Either way, there is no hiding the fact they need help.

So what is VRM to these people long-pressed against the ropes of life? Are we a second chance? Are we the door to sobriety? Are we the narrow gate guiding them to Jesus?

We’re all of these and more — summed up in one word: hope.

On October 20, we’ll be hosting our annual banquet that will be ripe with Mission-wide updates and inspiring stories. In a lot of ways, this year’s banquet is an opportunity for us to share the answers to the questions we’ve been asking this year: What is hope and restoration? What does it look like? What does it do for me?

We’d love to give you a sneak peek here and now, but would rather have you around a dinner table with friends and family, to be inspired together, to set sail with us in this exciting season. 

When life overwhelms and we can no longer keep the gloves up or distract from the sweat on our brow, hope is our anchor — hope in a God who is ready and able to heal, save, and deliver the most wayward of us. Hope that no matter what we’ve done in this life, we can be forgiven by God, each other, and even forgive ourselves. 


Ryan Stillwater

Ryan is a longtime Visalian — a graduate of Redwood High School and Fresno Pacific University with a bachelors degree in Christian Ministries. Intrigued by the partnership between the Visalia Rescue Mission and the City of Visalia, Ryan began putting his vision on paper as VRM's Oval Venue Coordinator in August 2013, and has sparked the interest of many throughout the community. Ryan and his wife Amy (a Mt. Whitney High School graduate) have been married for seven years and have three amazing kids — ages 6, 4, and 4.