I Have No Greater Joy…

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4)

This has become a very special verse to me since I took the role of Spiritual Life Director at Helping Up Mission in 1999.  Through the first three phases of our 12-month residential Spiritual Recovery Program, I get to have every guy in class with me daily.  It is my chance to pour into their hearts what has been working in my life and is so meaningful to me.  I get to know some of the guys pretty well and, over and over again, it is my joy to see them begin to find hope, answers and empowerment in their personal lives. 

With 400 men typically spending the night with us on the 1000 block of East Baltimore Street, everyday somebody does something to really disappoint me around here.  But for every 1 that I really feel bad about, there are 10 guys who are making really progress.  Over half the Helping Up Mission staff are graduates of our Program (all but 1 graduated since I have been here).  We have another 35 graduate interns in training with us to help serve the men in our programs.  And everyday alumni of our Program stop by and let us know how they are doing.  So every time I really get bummed out about something around here, I just stop a minute and take a look at all the men clean, in recovery and walking in the truth.  

One of the guys, Tim, arrived here in July 2008.  He graduated in 2009 and continues to live and work here with us.  He is also going to college at nearby Baltimore City Community College.  In an English class this summer, he had to write an essay about someone who has been a positive influence in his life.  He title it “With Help from Pastor Gary” and talked about what he has learned here and how it has impacted his life.  Admitted, I got more credit than I deserved, but it gave me warm fuzzies all over to read how I had been able to offer some direction for his life.

My wife and I have two grown children who live in California and of whom I am very proud.  While we only see thyem a couple of times a year, we talk, text and email regularly.  You can understand when I say that even though we are on opposites sides of the continent, when they are doing well, it just makes my day a bit better – and when they are struggling, it is a real downer for me here.

Well, I have 400 “other” children, too.  It is my privilege to invest in their lives and I have no greater joy than to see them walking in the truth.

Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director