Lima Rescue Mission provides lodging and hope

LIMA — For nearly 120 years, the Lima Rescue Mission has provided comfort to men who have fallen on hard times, either due to short-term circumstances or through a lifelong series of poor decisions.

The Christian-based mission, located in downtown Lima at the intersection of North Central Avenue and East Spring Street, offers a transitional, low-cost living environment for men who in some cases have nowhere else to turn. While some of the individuals who take advantage of overnight accommodations are there for one night only, as the calendar turned to 2024 there were as many as three dozen men nightly taking advantage of services offered at the ministry-based facility. Many spend as much as three or four months there before being urged to find more specialized treatment and facilities elsewhere.

According to Chuck Ferguson, executive director of the rescue mission, the population at the facility typically men in the 40 to 60 age group. While their ages may vary, the reasons that brought them to the Lima Rescue Mission are often quite familiar.

“We do have men who are in need of a little help and stay just a short time and then move on,” Ferguson said. “In many cases, however, it’s just a lot of it is just foolish decisions that bring them here. They get caught up in a certain lifestyle — either through drugs, addiction or mental health issues. We see it over and over again.”

Men seeking lodging at the mission must be inside the facility by 7 p.m. nightly. They are required to attend evening religious services in the chapel and by doing so earn “points” that can go toward extending their stay.

“Those men who are staying here need to earn 10 points per month to continue living here. Those points can be earned by working here or attending classes that include life skills, discipleship and Bible classes,” Ferguson said.

Use of the mission’s laundry and exercise facilities also require points.

“Our rules are restrictive, yet gracious,” the director said.

There is no limit on the length of time men can stay at the mission, but Ferguson said that those who are “not making an effort to move forward on their lives” after a few months will be referred to Coleman Health Services, the West Ohio Community Action Partnership or other public agencies for additional assistance or treatment.

The mission is home on any given night to as many as 35 to 40 men. Up to 14 beds in a dormitory-style setting are available for “transient” patrons, and approximately 30 more are available for long-term residents who pay $150 per month for their lodging. Breakfast and supper are provided daily, free of charge, to anyone in need. A majority of the food served at the mission is donated by local businesses, restaurants and individuals.

The cost for an overnight stay is 50 cents.

“It’s been the same for decades,” Ferguson said.

The mission and its small staff operate on an annual budget of approximately $600,000, although Ferguson said he typically is required to run the facility with fewer dollars. No tax money is used to support the Lima Rescue Mission. All funding comes directly from individuals, businesses, churches “and others who want to be involved in helping the homeless and less fortunate in our community,” according to the mission’s website.

“We do get some grants occassionally, but mostly it’s all run by faith,” Ferguson said.

A nine-member board of trustees provides oversight and sets policies.

Ferguson has served as the executive director of the mission since 1998 and has been an employee at the site for more than 46 years. It’s a position he may not have been born to hold, but he did more or less marry into it. The Lima Rescue Mission was founded in 1906 by Rev. Adam Welty, whose granddaughter Colleen is Ferguson’s wife.

So what keeps Ferguson going?

“You’ve got to do something. I feel the Lord has something for everybody, and I think this is what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “I hope he lets me know when it’s time to quit.”


13,213 meals served

3,498 nights of shelter

98 new guests

117 years in operation


Many businesses and organizations started right here in the Lima region, with the goal of making an impact in the region. This year’s Celebrating Our Spirit looks at those trailblazers. Read more stories at