Some callings seem to be magnetic. Jeff Levine, Biola University alumnus (B.A. ’13), is the new executive director of the Long Beach Rescue Mission. However, Levine is no stranger to the mission. He started serving there full-time when he was a student at Biola and continued for 12 years post-graduation, until he felt led to become a pastor at Bethany Church Long Beach in 2018. But, the tug back to the mission was too strong for Levine to ignore.
“In January 2022, God started to tug at my heart and through prayer and through circumstance revealed to me that I was being called back,” said Levine. “It is incredibly hard leaving a church you love so deeply to be obedient to God's call away. But I'm fully convinced this is where I'm supposed to be and have loved being back serving our community in the name of Jesus.”
And serving the community he continues to do. A big part of Levine’s role is connecting with his staff and supporting them in the roles they serve in the community. Another part of Levine’s responsibilities are overseeing the operations, programs, administration and donor engagement for the mission. Levine’s heart is deep in the ministry, hoping for a healthy staff, engaged volunteers and a foundation of invested donors.
“This is a dynamic ministry with highs and lows,” said Levine. “It is impossible to serve our clients without empathy and the vicarious trauma that comes with it. For this reason, a large part of my role is to ensure that the staff are cared for, supported and supplied with everything they need to carry out their calling here.”
Currently, Levine and his staff are hard at work converting a small strip mall into housing that is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), outfitted for people with disabilities. Equipped with 15 beds, the ADA compliant shelter is a drastic upgrade from the Long Beach Rescue Mission’s men’s shelter that was built in the 1980s that only had two beds fit for people with disabilities. Levine shared that there are approximately 3,200 people experiencing homelessness in Long Beach, and 37% of them identify as having a physical disability.
“There is no avoiding the hardships and challenges that come with this ministry, but together we can encourage each other and rejoice in the changes we see take place in the hearts of the men, women and children we serve,” said Levine.
Levine points back to the education he received at Biola in his Bible, Theology and Ministry major as providing an integral base for his work in ministry.
“The program laid a foundation for my teaching, preaching and counseling,” said Levine. “It gave me a deep appreciation for the gospel, for myself personally, but also for its power to transform the lives of men and women here at the mission.”
One thing that Levine particularly enjoys while working at the mission? Watching God’s hands at work.
“I really enjoy watching God build this place. It is amazing when He opens up the floodgates of his provision and you are able to sit back and watch him glorify himself in doing for the mission what I could never do on my own,” said Levine. “When I'm here, witnessing people being delivered from spiritual bondage and being freed by the truth to live out a life of faith in following Jesus, I feel the story of God's love and redemption unfolding in front of me. It's a pretty amazing place to be.”
Written by Sarah Dougher, media relations coordinator. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.