Needing a pastor

I really need to talk to a pastor.

We get a lot of calls that begin that way. Despite whatever other images they carry, churches are known as helping places. Folks who are down on their luck call churches. For whatever reason, this call felt different. “I just need someone to talk to.” He sounded desperate. And all of the on-staff ministers were away.

“Well, sir, I’m not a minister — but I’m in seminary training to be one. Is there anything I can help you with?”

R let me know that he was at the point of giving up. He got married the same day I did and lost his job in the process — a service-type job where weekends are important and weddings are unnecessary. He has a high school diploma and no specialized skills. And did I mention the felony from selling drugs three years ago? He’s trying to stay clean and make an honest living, but no one will hire him. Did I know of anything — even if it was just shoveling snow?

I took his name and number and promised that I would investigate and return his call. And I sighed as I got off the phone, wondering why we make it so difficult for folks to clean up their lives. What will happen if R doesn’t find a job? What will he do to make sure his wife and kids are provided for? And could I really blame him for whatever he decides?

I tracked down my resources, finding two different programs that assist folks like R in job-training and job-hunting. When I called back, all I got was a generic answering machine. I left a message with the names and numbers of the programs, emphasizing that he could call me back if he needed. Two weeks later, I haven’t heard anything. But I wonder if the church (global) has failed the Rs of the world. And I’m not sure I know what to do about it.

These are the days my calling seems the most real… and the days I struggle most with what to do with it.

(photo credit)



Filed under ministry

2 responses to “Needing a pastor

  1. Yes, sighing with you.
    My husband sometimes wonders if the modern day lepers in our society are those who are convicted of child abuse. Society and the church leave no room for redemption based on the grossness of the sin. I would never dispute the depth of the iniquity (with two littles) but grace is deeper still.

    I have questions, too on this issue in jail ministry. We can go in, share Christ and the Word, and watch God open hearts. But, the hope for these women and men when they leave is very small. So many real, practical obstacles await them, besides the difficulty of walking by faith.
    Lord, help us help them.

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