Andy Bales was my youth pastor when I was in high school. His impact on my life was immeasurable. More than that, he has quietly “walked the talk” better than any living human being I’ve ever known. I pass this along with hope and a prayer for him.
The Best for Andy Bales
Posted: Friday, March 23, 2012 9:25 am
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - It’s hard not to feel a range of emotions for Rev. Andy Bales. There’s fear. There’s awe. There’s tremendous respect and tremendous worry on his behalf.
Most of all, there’s hope that he can overcome the hurdles that are in his path.
Los Angeles Downtown News last week reported on the unenviable challenges confronting Bales. The 53-year-old CEO of the Union Rescue Mission is in need of a kidney transplant, though that’s only part of it. His rare blood type, O negative, means there is a limited pool of donors. Making matters worse, he has a serious heart condition, and until he undergoes heart surgery, he won’t be able to get on the list for a kidney transplant.
The choice might seem easy to an outsider: Get the heart surgery, get on the transplant list, save your life.
For Bales, it’s more complicated. He knows that having the surgery would almost certainly lead to kidney failure, which in turn would require him to go on dialysis. That would force him to cut back heavily on his job of overseeing the mission in the heart of Skid Row. It’s something Bales is reluctant to do.
This is a choice almost none of us can understand in the way that Bales does. We can feel for him and guess what we might do in such a situation, but no one can really fathom having to make the decisions he faces.
Bales didn’t set out to make his health a public issue. The media came to him and he only spoke out because he hopes doing so will bring attention to the work he and others do each day at the mission.
That, by the way, is a tremendous amount of work, and it’s a job that has become more challenging in the past few years, as the slow economy has lessened the amount of financial donations to nearly all nonprofits. The mission at 545 S. San Pedro St. seeks to aid the impoverished community in numerous ways. There are drug and alcohol counseling for hundreds of individuals. There are meals served, an average of 3,000 a day, every day of the year. There are the shelter beds provided, more than 900 a night for men, women and families. There are clothing and medical services dispensed. The list goes on — much of it can be glimpsed at urm.org.
Bales’ condition is serious, but it would be wrong to see this as a death sentence. He continues to show up at the mission each day, to work to better the lives of others. It’s easy to find people who sing his praises.
Right now all we can do is wish for the best for Andy Bales. We hope that in the coming months the community will continue to support him and the mission.
© Los Angeles Downtown News 2011