Bruce Deel founded City of Refuge in 1997. He is the Senior Pastor of The Mission Church and a graduate of Lee University in Cleveland, TN. As a result of his experience and success, Bruce has become a highly sought after speaker and serves as a consultant to numerous non-profits around the country.
Trust First: A True Story About the Power of Second Chances
When Deel took over The Mission Church in 1997, he had orders to shut it down. Its neighborhood has the highest crime rate per capita in Georgia, the highest rate of incarceration, the highest homeless population per capita, a less than 50 percent high school graduation rate, and a 40 percent unemployment rate. After preaching that Sunday, Bruce was approached by a woman he didn’t know. “I’ve been hooking and stripping for 14 years,” she said, “Can you help me?” Soon 17 people, in addition to the Deels, had moved in the old church — pregnant girls, single mothers and their children, upstairs; and two or three single men in the basement. Bruce began going before judges to speak up for drug addicts and vandals, offering to supervise them as an alternative to jail. Today, City of Refuge has a 200,000 square foot campus in the same zip code. It is a one-stop-shop for transitional housing, on-site medical and mental health care, childcare, and vocational training, including accredited intensives in auto tech, culinary arts, and coding. While most social services focus on one pain point and leave the burden on the poor to find the crosstown bus that’ll serve their other needs, Deel argues that bringing someone out of homelessness requires treating all of their needs simultaneously. This book shows how to break the cycle of poverty once and for all. It provides a moving window into the lives of the ex-cons, drug addicts, human trafficking survivors, and displaced individuals who’ve come through the City of Refuge program. Heartfelt, deeply personal, and inspiring, Trust First will break down your assumptions about whether anyone is ever truly a lost cause. Bruce will donate a portion of his proceeds from Trust First to the charitable organization City of Refuge.