I recently had the opportunity to hear a speaker who was one of three founders of a national retail chain. At the beginning of his talk, one of my colleagues “googled” this guy and learned he was one of the richest men in America – a billionaire – so I figured he probably knew a thing or two and I should take a listen! During the Q&A he was asked why the retail chain had enjoyed such success. His answer caught me off guard. He said it was in large part because his two co-founding partners were, as he called them, “people junkies”. He went on to describe them as guys who were always visiting the stores in the early days and loved talking to the associates and having meals with them. His co-founders got to know the store associates intimately and really cared about them.
“People junkies”….I heard that phrase and immediately loved it. And while I wasn’t exactly sure all of what that phrase conjured up for this gentleman, I knew what it meant for me: not a backslapping life-of-the-party kind of person, but rather someone who cares deeply for people, who loves them right where they are, who cares about their deepest hurts and yes, even their very soul.
As the Board Chair, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the staff at the Barnabas Center and they ARE “people junkies” –they love people right where they are and care for their very soul. How? Well, sometimes by offering a listening ear without judgment or presumption. Other times it’s by asking a thoughtful question that may encourage one to reflect. But, it’s always by gently reminding them that often it’s the very struggles of life that lead us to the creator, redeemer and sustainer of life….to Jesus himself. And that this Jesus often uses the struggles in our life to speak to our hearts. They love – not by helping others find ways to skirt around the difficulties and struggles of life but by helping them find Jesus in the midst of them.
Several years ago, many friends of Barnabas took part in some “focus group” work to help us understand where the Lord might be leading this ministry in the years to come. We enjoyed hearing from many and literally received a notebook full of feedback. All that work led to what we call Vision 2020. While we don’t yet know all the pieces, I can tell you this: in the future, Barnabas will be the same, and Barnabas will be different.
It will be the same… that is, we will continue to meet with people in the office setting, hold Heart to Heart marriage seminars, lead groups and teach classes. But it will be different too… what about that struggling friend who might find it difficult to come to a counseling office but would be open to a coffee conversation at Starbucks? What about the person who opens up in small group, shares their heart, but says it isn’t “bad enough” that they need counseling? We want to be there for those folks too. To that end, we also believe the Lord is calling us to build deeper partnerships with more churches and we foresee using technology to minister in ways that may not have been feasible a few short years ago. And, we are having conversations with folks in other cities… Who knows? In summation, we feel the Lord leading us to offer His hope not only to individuals, but to families, small groups, and congregations.
“His Hope in Struggle: First a Life, Then a Community” is our Vision Statement for 2020.
By God’s grace we will continue to be “people junkies” by loving people deeply during the struggles of life and helping them find hope – real hope, true hope – in the very creator of life itself. And with His help, we can expand that influence into larger communities, though always one life and one relationship at a time.
We have our Benefit on Thursday, October 4th where we will enjoy great food, share some stories and talk a little more about the future. We hope you can join us. For more information please click here https://thebarnabascenter.org/benefit/.
Breck and Cindi have been married almost 25 years and live in Charlotte where they have raised their two children Breck Jr (22) and Blair (19). He’s a “people junkie” who currently serves on the Barnabas Center Board.