On Sunday morning April 26, we had one of those events which can so impact people’s lives. One of our men, just finishing up his Alpha phase of our Spiritual Recovery Program, went to be with the Lord. Richard spend Saturday evening shooting pool and playing cards with the guys in our rec room and went to bed that night with church plans all laid out for Sunday morning. Instead of waking up here on the 1000 block of East Baltimore Street, he woke up in Heaven.
Rich was 23 years old and the father of two small children. This was his second time here, but all agree that this time he really was working on something and seemed to be genuinely serene. Rich enthusiastically sang in our Graduation Choir last month and was an original member of our Helping Up Mission running team and basketball team – although the general consensus was that he was a pretty good runner, decent singer and a terrible basketball player.
Partnering with our HUM running team from the beginning has been the organization Back On My Feet (BOMF). At last Friday’s chapel service, we remembered Rich with some music and remarks. One of the people who spoke was Jaclyn Truncellito, Back On My Feet Baltimore Program Director. I was really moved by her comments and asked if she would allow me to share them with you.
How much can you really learn about a person in 21 days? Can you learn their deep desires? What makes them get up in the morning? What makes them come alive? Can you really have an impact on someone in such a short time?
A week ago – I would say doubtful. Today I can stand here and say YES.
Rich wasn’t even included on the original list of the 10 guys who started. By the grace of God, he was asked at the last minute to join the team - and you’ve got to think to yourself – MAN the team would have been so much different without him! Nobody to take the first spill in team history – missing the curb & busting up his knee. Nobody to make sure your not slacking off on the end of your run – cause if you were – he’d come and get you! Nobody to give you thumbs up in the name game. Nobody to be the first one to hug you. Nobody to be the first one down at 5:30 with the biggest most genuine smile. And now that he’s gone the idea of the team without him seems empty.
That’s how you know someone’s made an impact on your life – when you just can’t see your life without them. It’s unfortunate that it takes a loss like this to realize it, to say thank you, to appreciate someone, to tell them that they’ve touched your life. And we can dwell on missed opportunities, or we can be grateful. Grateful to have been touched, to have been graced by the presence of God not just through Rich but through all my team members every day – that is beautiful. To know that God exists because of the way He’s allowed our paths to cross – that is beautiful. To come to know the gift of strength, healing, empowerment and perseverance because of that light you see in another – that is beautiful.
Rich was on his way to do great things – and though he’s no longer here to finish the journey – I have no doubt he would ask us to continue what he started….to keep running, to keep fighting, to keep struggling, to keep kicking all the way to the finish.
Eternal rest grant unto Rich, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in your mercy. Amen
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director