“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.