By SAMUEL BOLEN
“There are those that talk about change. Then there are those who actually do it.”
I will never forget this line from my childhood Bible, a tattered 1997 publication of the New Living Translation. The statement above is from the Bible’s summary paragraph of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. It describes a man, Nehemiah, who developed such compassion for his homeland that he gathered all the help he could find and decided something must be done to repair his native city. And change it he did. With the right leadership, resources and planning, the Lord used Nehemiah’s team to rebuild and ultimately restore their hometown of Jerusalem.
There are those that talk about change. Then there are those who actually do it. During this month of Thanksgiving, I am grateful to God that Jackson is filled with doers and not just talkers.
Over the summer, the water issue in Jackson went from a problem to a crisis. Drinkable water was nowhere to be found. Many went without water. Others experienced dark brown water spewing out of their faucets. Ministry leaders were faced with a choice: Do we sit around and talk about the problem, or do we do something about it? Will we love merely in word and speech, or will we love in action and truth?
It was my privilege to encounter ministry leaders all throughout the Jackson metro area who were ready to respond. A pastor reached out, offering to provide water and meals to places in need. A couple of businesses offered their trucks to help haul water pallets to various JPS schools. Ronnie Crudup Jr.’s team at New Horizon Church spent weeks distributing water from their south Jackson campus. Pastor Juanita Ward at Freedom Ministries International partnered with McDonald’s and other corporations to distribute and deliver water from their north Jackson location. Jackson churches including First Presbyterian, First Baptist, Mt. Helm, Fondren Church, Redeemer Church, Cade Chapel, and many more distributed and delivered water from their campuses. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.
At Jackson Leadership Foundation, we had the privilege of partnering with the city of Jackson’s 311 support line to deliver cases of water to shut-ins who expressed need. With the help of ministries including God’s Haven, The Jackson Resource Center, Raymond Road Baptist Church, Hopeful Community Outreach, His Heart, First Baptist Clinton, Bridging the Gap Outreach Ministries and others, water was distributed to more than 600 households in the city who requested support. With a great need came an even greater volunteer response.
What a wonderful sight it is to see God’s people step up to give of their time, talent and treasure to love their neighbors! Imagine what our city and state could look like if we continued this practice of service. Imagine if we commit ourselves, collectively, to be doers and not just talkers! I get the privilege of living in a city and state filled with people willing to step up and serve when times get tough. It is a beautiful sign from God that we can still have thanksgiving in the midst of crisis.
God’s Haven volunteers distributed water to places in need during this summer’s water crisis in Jackson.
As executive director of Jackson Leadership Foundation, Samuel and his team get to work with Jackson’s “superheroes,” grassroots ministry leaders working in communities throughout the city. He also gets the privilege of connecting individuals, families, churches and businesses to invest their time, talent and treasure in Jackson’s leaders. Samuel and his wife, Hallie, live in Jackson with their three sons and are members of Redeemer Church.