By HEATH FERGUSON
My name is Heath Ferguson, and I am a recovering addict. I am also a chaplain at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center. I have been blessed by redemption and recovery and am now God’s servant, getting the chance to share the hope of the gospel, which is the story of love that saved me when I finally had ears to hear it.
If it were not for the grace of God, I could be spending my 16th year in prison while serving a 19-year sentence. But I am not. By that grace I am here in Jackson, living the life of husband, father and minister. I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for this life. I have been afforded so much. I am that debtor who owed so much more than I could ever repay. I know that. It is well within me, and it wells within me. I was dead, and now I have life.
When I think about what I have learned about Mission Mississippi over the years, it is that they seek to give what I so desperately needed: dignity and hope. When I was at my worst, I needed someone to love me enough that I might, through his or her intentional, unconditional love, see myself as loveable — by anyone, but most importantly by God. Mission Mississippi carefully tends to the hearts of Mississippians, finding ones that need to be dignified by love and grace.
The conversations that I have seen, or even been involved in, thanks to Mission Mississippi are those gospel-borne conversations that hold up the Greatest Commandment and honor the truth of God and His eternal, beautiful love, which is Christ Jesus. These conversations seek to be tender reminders to the participants of the hope of restoration. If we are without love, we are without dignity and hope. Mission Mississippi helps remind us, even in our fear, that there is a restoring God in our midst who loves us beyond our imagination. That, my friend, is the transformational truth of the gospel. His love changes everything. It is His “making everything new.”
I have deeper gratitude for God’s redemptive work. I have deeper gratitude for the way my God uses Mission Mississippi and those who serve within this ministry. We need the conversations that Mission Mississippi orchestrates. We need to be reminded of the perfect love that comes from the Father. We need dignity. We need hope. But we will never have it if we do not live in and share God’s unconditional love, which is Jesus Christ. It is in Christ that we are reconciled to the Father, and it will be through Jesus Christ that we find reconciliation with one another.
What I am going to do this month is lean into the grace that I have been afforded with deeper gratitude. I am going to pay attention to my relationships so that I might feel when someone in my circle or in my day-to-day life is feeling lost, without dignity and hope. When I find someone who needs it, I will treat him or her as I would like to be treated. I will love them unconditionally out of gratitude for being loved unconditionally. (We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19.) I will use my redemption to help others become transformed in the love that God has for them. In addition, I will support Mission Mississippi’s work to that same end. God bless you all.
Heath Ferguson is the director of Pastoral Care and Faith Relations for Mississippi Baptist Medical Center. He is Emily’s husband and MG and Locke’s dad. He is a licensed and ordained Southern Baptist minister, a board-certified chaplain, and a provisionally licensed professional counselor. He loves spending time with his family, fishing, and watching baseball.