Godspeed, Randy Altmeyer!
Long before Randy Altmeyer was old enough to work, he was part of
the Union Gospel Mission. His dad, Harry Altmeyer, was a board member
and the family helped put on chapel services at the old Men’s Shelter
on Browne and Spokane Falls Blvd. Something about that experience must
have stuck because Randy later chose to devote 30 years of his life to
serving homeless men.
Randy, who retired at the end of August, described himself as
“passionate about wanting to help people. I just love to interact with
people who don’t have what other people have.”
UGM Director of Ministries Sonny Westbrook expressed much the same
sentiment when he addressed Randy at his retirement luncheon: “As I
think of you, I think of the word ‘compassion’ because you illustrate
what Jesus taught, that though there’s 99 safe in the fold, you have
sought to never forget the people that are outside.”
With one of Randy’s trademark half-smiles, he told about his early
days on the job: “When I first came, I was daddy’s kid. The whole
Mission was kind of a rough place, and they’ve got a different way of
breaking people in. I didn’t find it out until later, but they
figured, in about six months, they could make it hard enough for me
that I’d want to leave. But after a while, you get established. People
get to know you, they respect you. Just sometimes, they want to give
you a run for your money.”
Six months turned into 30 years and a wealth of experiences. One
of the most fit over-60-year-olds you’ll ever meet, Randy particularly
enjoyed engaging the men in physical fitness and recreation: bike
riding, boxing, running, calisthenics…You name it, Randy could go the
distance with men half his age.
Randy not only presented men with physical challenges, he also
challenged them spiritually as the chaplain. He helped introduce
Celebrate Recovery, a worship and testimonial service, to UGM, and
conducted Friday night outreach on the streets. Plus, his wife Shelley
brought her own unique ministry to the Mission.
“Shelley is by nature a great listener. The guys desire to talk to
females, and we don’t have that many healthy females that can talk to
them when they’re around. What Shelley does, and she’s good at, is
meeting the men and she has a real knack at picking out people that
need someone to talk to. Because she listens, they open up; because
she listens, she probably leads more people to the Lord around here
than anybody else.”
Together, Randy and Shelley make a power couple, telling people
about Jesus. They have left a lasting impression on UGM.
And Randy’s not stopping now. He will keep preaching in the UGM
chapel on Monday nights for Celebrate Recovery, and he and his oldest
son, Caleb, have started a new ministry, HRC, which stands for “Help
Reach our Community.” To learn more and read a longer interview with
Randy, go to blog.uniongospelmission.org/passionately-serving.