Email to the board last week:
“I woke up this morning in tears at 4am. It felt good to cry over RMG, I haven’t done so in way too long. I wrote the words below as almost an outpouring of the Spirit. I love what Christ has done through RMG. The things I have been enlightened to, the people I’ve met, and the peace that I feel have all come by way of simply saying “yes” to The Lord. 2015 is going to be a good year, join me in the trenches fellas, I need my brothers:”
When we started RMG, I always told people that I never wanted to shy away from putting myself out there emotionally amongst our guests. Not to sit back and work from a distance, but be in those trenches of despair and hopelessness with them. I wanted to feel “real life,” not this day-to-day monotony of work-home-sleep. I shed a lot of tears in 2012-2013. I mean those real, depth of your soul, “I wish it were me instead of them” type tears. I wept when I found out Greg Hopkins had died last spring, after only being diagnosed 6 months earlier. I’ll never forget the night I checked he and his wife into apartment “N” last November. I remember how his wife, Tiffany, helped him in the door after a long “kitchen sink” kind of day at UAB. He had a batman shirt on, and was sitting on the brand new couch that was donated by Shirley Lyle (my best friends mom, whose husband had passed in 2012). Through his exhaustion and inability to be physically comfortable, he managed the most sincere smile. He told me how he knew Christ had already saved him. Tiffany was strong. You could tell that she would do anything to make this go away. Greg gave me the most sincere, genuine, “thank you” I have ever received in my 35 years. He couldn’t understand why RMG would offer such kindness. *Pause* The moment when you realize that the same grace that has saved Greg from eternal death, is the same grace working through RMG.
I wept for Jenifer when she came to us, a young single mom of a toddler. Jenifer had just been diagnosed with cancer. Her story had taken her from gala’s and spotlights, to government assistance in a matter of 18 months because of her diagnosis. She became more than another cancer story when my wife and I got to know her as a person. There have been few days, since we met Jenifer last year, that have been easy for her. Whether it be ailments from treatment, or simply those hard days of being a mom to her beautiful 2yo daughter. Jenifer and my wife are like two peas in a pod now days! Best friends. Would have never happened had God not called me to start RMG. *put yourself out there
I met Brad Booth, a young attorney in Birmingham, for the first time at Starbucks in Mt. Brook Village last year. I knew after hearing his story online that I needed him to play an integral role at RMG. He told me how when battling cancer in 2011, removed from the previous world he knew, the voice of The Lord became unmistaken and clear. He told me about wrestling with the thoughts of what he truly believed would happen if he closed his eyes one final time. I had to hold back the tears that morning in front of a perfect stranger. Brad then told me how The Lord had blessed him with the suppression of his cancer, and how he felt the need to help others that were once like him (in a city far away, without a home). **Fast FWD a short time after that initial meeting as Brad steps onto the RMG board and friendships begin** We all wept over and over again just months ago when we found out his cancer had returned in 3 spots. He’s back in the trenches, and realizing that nearness to God that is so familiar to him. Someone may look a Brad’s situation, a promising young professional with a beautiful wife, 2yo daughter with one on the way, and cry out in anger at God or be overwhelmed with hopelessness. I can tell you what Brad’s response is… “It is well, with my soul.”
I woke up tonight in tears for the first time in a long time. God is making another surge in the next chapter of RMG, and it’s very evident. I have taken a step back from the day to day as we have brought in a coordinator to look after our guests daily. As a result, I’ve unknowingly withdrawn myself from the trenches. The place that Christ has called ALL who follow Him. The trenches are nasty, painful, and exhausting. I miss it… Getting dirty… I feel God in those places. I remember those battles of the past that He brought us through, and I know He’ll do it again. Because the trenches, though ugly, is where you’ll find The Lord in His most glorious state.
I love this city. I want, more and more, to see it through the eyes of Christ. I am so thankful I said yes when called to start Red Mountain Grace. I hope others will join me in the trenches, and do life with more and more people enduring sickness while in Birmingham.