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Let’s talk about a young man who has been coming to Cross’ Bread of Healing ministry for the last 2-3 years. He stood out to me and to everyone by the way he dressed. He was always neatly attired and always in a shirt and tie along with his signature cap. When I began to sit in the Men of Faith group he was always present. I could tell that he had been raised in the Church.
A couple of months ago when the job’s training program was started he was one of the first people to enroll. This was a 5-week program and he was one of five individuals to complete the training. He stood out, he was determined to do his best, he was motivated to work and he was anxious to find a job. He was appreciative of the efforts, the time and the energy being put forth on behalf of those who were seeking employment. On last week we got word from UPS that it was likely that this individual would be offered a job.
On Wednesday, November 28 this young man started work and while we celebrate the fact of his success the real story here is that this journey and it really was a journey was not just about one individual but about a community, a community that believed and believes in everyone of the individuals who walk through Cross’ doors. A community that offered encouragement, support and care, a community that took the role of advocating on behalf of folks who were not in a position to advocate for themselves. Michael Adams our job’s specialist picked Willis up this morning and took him to the site. The work day started at 7:15a.m. Willis was outside of his home waiting on Michael. He had been up since 5 a.m.
Michael and I had a long conversation Wednesday evening. I was anxious to hear how things had gone. I could hear the excitement in Michael’s voice. “Pastor, today I have been blessed. I have been blessed by Willis and I am convinced that this is a God moment.” All of us who have gotten to know Willis has been blessed by him and we at Cross are blessed by the presence, the commitment and the promise that Michael and his daughter Lauren have brought to this ministry.
As I think about this ministry I continue to be aware of how fragile life is and how many people are living in that fragileness. A number of people come to mind. Willie and Diana whose 2-year old grandchild was killed by the boyfriend of Willie’s daughter, Mitchell Tucker whose 19-year old son was murdered in Texas on Thanksgiving eve night, a young woman who entered the building today looking just to talk to someone. She was visibly upset. Her face was fresh with tear stains. Mitchell had just been in an altercation with her daughter, a daughter who could not forgive her for some mistakes that she had made in the past, mistakes that the mother freely admitted to me. She came because she said she had no other place to turn. She said, pastor I did not come here to ask for anything other than someone that I could talk to, someone who would listen. So much of ministry is about listening. Jesus spent much of his ministry listening. Sometimes more important than our words is our capacity for listening. “If anyone has ears let them hear.” When we are attentive we hear the cries of those in our midst who are the walking wounded and as we hear them we are able to respond with the compassionate love of Jesus Christ. I give God thanks for the open doors and the open arms of Cross. I give thanks that those who live in a place of fragileness in our own congregation and outside are comfortable enough to seek us out.
Continue to pray for Cross. Strive to pray for those who serve this ministry in faith and in faithfulness. Persevere to hold these situations that I mentioned in this article in your prayers.
Continue to speak about this ministry to those that you may know. Invite them to come and see and taste the goodness of God.
Written by Pastor Ken Wheeler, Previous Director of the Bread of Healing Empowerment.