The Big Sandy Mountaineer -

Patching Cracks


May 29, 2019

About 15 years ago, the church I was working for as a Youth Pastor made significant budget cuts that resulted in me taking a 50% pay cut. This meant being forced to start working a second job. The job I found was at a facility that worked with kids who had emotional problems.

The program I started in was Emergency Shelter Care. We provided housing for kids that had nowhere else to go. My first week there, we took in a young lady who had been homeless since she was 8. She was 13, and the police picked her up sleeping on the side of the road.

She eventually moved to our addiction treatment program. I worked with her in one capacity or other for years. I would love to say that working there was clean, neat, and fun every day. It wasn’t. It was often messy, difficult work. However, of all the jobs I’ve had in my life, working to serve people in a residential setting had the biggest positive influence on my life.

Working there, I learned so much about loving and caring for people who were sometimes unlovable and almost always had no one else in their lives who cared about them.

I grew in character. I trained to be a better person. I learned to love serving. Probably most importantly, I learned to love God more deeply through serving the needs of those who could not serve themselves. I often miss working there and remember the times when I got to go and do God’s work in the lives of the kids I was honored to serve. Over the last few years, I have discovered a hidden gem of similar quality in Big Sandy. I began stopping in about once a week to have coffee with the guys who live at Big Sandy Activities Men’s Home.

I enjoy coffee, conversation, and occasionally help out with little chores when it’s appropriate. The guys are a blessing to me. It’s hard to explain the joy that comes with serving them, even if just by visiting and talking for a while. I’m sharing this because Big Sandy Activities is in an unusual spot where they have a handful of jobs open.

These are difficult jobs to fill because folks don’t always understand the magic associated with loving and serving folks who need both to survive. I want to encourage folks to look at this opportunity to grow as a person through serving in that capacity. I learned more about following Jesus from my time in residential work than I did in any classroom in college or seminary. Jesus said that folks would know we are his disciples by our love for one another.

The cool thing is that he said that after washing his disciples’ feet. The love Jesus was talking about was not a warm feeling inside. It was a lifetime of actions rooted in a decision to serve other folks humbly through our daily actions toward them. Big Sandy Activities is a place where you can do that in a way that means the world to the folks who you are doing it for.

The book of James talks about how our faith is useless and dead if we do not put it into action. This is action in a place that needs good people to serve. The last time I saw the girl from my first few days at Emergency Shelter Care, she was an adult, married, with a child, and a home. She was stable and healthy.

I was blessed to get to be a part of that transformation. I got to see God work in that young woman’s life because I stepped into a different, often uncomfortable line of work, and I served the way I thought Jesus would want me to.

Maybe the best question you can ask yourself every morning is: How is God calling you to serve people today? It could mean the world to one of His children.


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