I had a big void in my life. I was raised Catholic but had moved away from the church when my ex-wife was pregnant with my son about 28 years ago not because of bad press but for a more personal reason. It left me languishing. I had always been a churchgoer, was baptized, the whole nine yards, and we had tried another church that I didn’t feel connected to, so my wife and I decided to try Crossroads last year. I felt an immediate attachment to the community when we came, so we stayed.
I always felt that I had more to offer than what I had been doing in my life, particularly in serving others. So when I heard about GO Alabama, I decided to do it. That trip was an absolutely joyful, incredible, sad, and wonderful experience. Even though I knew slavery existed, I never really heard it from side of the black community and the abomnation of lynching and slavery really hit hard for me.
When I was there, I had a $100 bill in my wallet that I had been trying to break since before we left on the trip, but no one was able to do it – the gas station, the hotel bar – everyone couldn’t do it. During the trip I was sitting outside smoking (an addiction I’m working to break) on a bench, and a man popped up and started talking to me. He had the most riddled hands I have ever seen. He told me he had health issues, he was trying to find a job, and he was figuring out a way to get to his church that was 60 miles away. I pulled out the $100, gave it to him, and told him to get something good to eat once he got to where he was going and to go with God’s blessing. He thanked me and put it in his sock to keep it safe. I looked away and he was gone. I didn’t see him come or go. I said out loud, “Jesus, was that you telling me to give to others?”
Since that trip I have started leading a Rooted group and my wife and I have made new friends there. I’m doing more Bible reading than ever before, doing research on different things I read in the Bible, and completing the Bible Challenge everyday. It has been transformational for me in the way I approach God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I always felt I wasn’t worthy to speak to God, so I used to pray to my dad who passed away in 2000 because he was such a good man and I knew he was with God. I hoped that he would talk to God on my behalf whenever my kids or I were experiencing times of trouble. Now I’ve changed and pray directly to God not just in times of need but thankfulness as well.
I’m serving in Kids’ Club every other week and I’m getting ready to go to South Africa this summer. My serving has been relatively constrained to the immediate community around me, so I’m looking forward to making connections there. I did fundraising for my trip through the Crossroads app and I have been unbelievably joyful to see how many friends and family are making this trip with me through financial support. I could’ve paid for it myself, but I wanted others to know what I was doing and to be part of it. I love that they’re on this journey with me and I plan to create a photo book of my experience for everyone who contributes.
I’m a transformed person, and at nearly 69 I still have a lot of growth to go. I’m learning more about being a disciple and discipling others because that’s what Jesus expects of us. I haven’t felt this joyful in a really long time. It doesn’t mean I don’t have problems in my life, I’m just a different person and I really feel the Holy Spirit moving inside of me. -Brian M.