"Victory represents what the Tacoma Rescue Mission is really all about... God's love reaching out to humanity; bringing victory to those who are lost", said Victory sculptor Troi Cockayne. "A one word description would be hope."
Four years ago, Mission Executive Director Mike Lonergan and his wife, Paula came across a much smaller table top version of the sculpture at the Western Washington Fair Art exhibit. When plans for a new building began to take shape, Mike contacted Troi about a possible enlargement for the Missions courtyard.
In September 2001, upon the completion of the Tacoma Rescue Mission's New Life Square complex, the 22 foot bronze sculpture was put in place at the center of the courtyard. While the staff at the Mission was interested in the sculpture, they had little idea of the powerful effect it would have on the staff, community and homeless of Tacoma.
Diana Long, women's director of the New Life Recovery Program at the mission, was astonished at the reactions to the sculpture. "This piece of art must have been created by the leading of the Holy Spirit, because it touches so many peoples hearts."
According to Long, nine of ten New Life Program women or volunteers mention the sculpture immediately on their first visit.
"It's so powerful, because it reminds them they are not alone," said Long. Immediately after the sculpture was installed, the staff recognized an interesting phenomenon; cars were pulling off the busy street to look at the sculpture. People were getting out of their vehicles, gathering around Victory for prayer. Some people even stopped to take pictures. Victory has become a focal point for interest and support of the Mission.
Amid all this fanfare, what most excites the Mission staff is how the homeless react to the sculpture. New Life Square Building Manager Brian Uebelacker has witnessed the reactions first hand.
"I watch as they gaze up at Victory and just
Silent Sermon (Continued)
Written by Pete Mahoney
stare, and I can sense they are taking a spiritual inventory of their life," said Uebelacker. "I cannot imagine this facility without the sculpture, it has had such an impact.
While one cannot make a scientific connection between the sculpture and positive improvements at the shelter, they are worth mentioning. Since the new shelter opened, disorderly behavior and drug incidents have dropped significantly, and the enrollment rate for New Life Recovery has doubled.
Victory has four scriptures at it's base but relays a powerful message even for those who don't read the words. Shift Manager Mike Stoner has witnessed what could be called a "silent sermon."
"I watched one fellow come through the gate and immediately stop and stare," said Stoner. "He then slowly walked to one of the benches under the sculpture. From his expression, I knew he was in despair. He put his hands together and prayed right there."
- 2002 Pete Mahoney is a staff member and spokesperson for the Tacoma Rescue Mission, Tacoma, Washington.
RESCUE magazine, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions - February 2002 - Vol. 16, No.1