This post is the fifteenth in Project Legacy, a series of interviews that aim to learn from leaders outside of education to influence those inside education. See our most popular posts in Project Legacy on Mayor James Brainard and Northview Pastor Steve Poe.
Pastor and Author Dave Harvey wrote the article “How to Know if You Are Called” to explain the summons to our Savior as well as the particular summons to service. Christians are called to one Savior but a variety of areas of service. In other words, one who professes faith is first called to the Savior through spiritual regeneration and then, secondarily, he is given specific good works to do. Ephesians 2:8-9 describes how we are saved by grace through faith and then in Ephesians 2:10, Paul describes our calling in Christ to do good works.
In my recent conversation with Reverend David Greene, I realized how diverse our areas of doing good works can be even if we are unified by the one Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Reverend Greene serves as the Lead Pastor at Purpose of Life Ministries but is also heavily involved civically through his service on five different boards ranging from from Red Cross to Blueprint Council to End Homelessness. Here are the main lessons from my time with Reverend Greene.
Lesson #1: One Savior but Many Services in Many Spaces
While Reverend Greene serves a church ministry in a zip code where the family median income is $33,064, I serve at a school ministry in a zip code where the family median income is $102,143. Because God has called us to different places, we serve in much different capacities on a weekly basis. Reverend Greene is regularly engaged in public advocacy for the homeless, recovery for addicts, and with educating children from single parent homes. I am regularly engaged with administration, teaching, fundraising, and financial leadership.
“I never want to forget from where I came,”
said Reverend Greene. He was raised by sharecroppers and did not have housing with running water and indoor plumbing until he was in the fourth grade. David was the first person in his family to go to college as well, because of a few teachers that gave him hope and believed in him. While many of his classmates went on to the factory or the farm, David’s teachers encouraged him, “David, you can be successful and go do something.” If you look at the fruit of David’s present ministry, the seeds of that fruit are in his past experience; I saw poverty have a similar impact in a previous Project Legacy interview with Jake Stamper who said,
“This period of poverty taught me how to apply knowledge and to produce.”
Pastor Dave Harvey writes about God uses our entire past for our present callings to serve,
“The question of vocation meets us on a road already traveled. Men aren’t newborns. They arrive into adulthood having passed through significant experiences. A broken home, a college scholarship, a wayward sibling, an uncle in rehab, and countless other milestones along our journey shape our calling; our calling is vitally connected to our story.”
For parents and teachers, we need to understand ‘who we are’ and ‘how we got this way’ in order to have maximum impact on the next generation. When a lost person gets saved, they still retain their family history, past experiences and particular strengths and weaknesses. We are saved to serve and we would be wise to see what particular service our Savior has suited us for. Although Reverend Greene was initially called to a lucrative career in computer science at IBM, the Lord kept prodding him to pursue ministry. Learning to trust God as he entered the unknown marked a pivotal moment in his development as a Christian leader.
Lesson #2: Remember the Have-Nots
The more I listened to Reverend Greene, the more I realized that we are serving in much different ways. As I listened to him, I thought,
“Wow, I don’t know hardly anyone that is coming from a single parent home or someone in homelessness or someone suffering from addiction.”
In his bio, it reads that he is committed to the ‘unchurched, unloved and unsaved.’ This really resonated with me, because I was not saved until I was 21, and it was because of some ‘salt and light’ Christians who found ways to include me in their Christian circles that I came to Christ. I did not have a relationship with Christ, but them including me made me curious about Christ. Before I learned about Christ, I learned about His people.
You don’t have to go downtown to find people who are unloved, unsaved, and unchurched. While there may be more material prosperity in much of Hamilton County than in parts of Marion County, there is just as much spiritual poverty. Unloved, unchurched and unsaved people abound in every neighborhood of Indiana, and we must not forget about them. After spending time with Reverend Greene, I am asking myself,
“How can I make space in my heart and in my schedule for people who are unchurched, unsaved and unloved?”
Initially, my mind imagines the most intense scenarios like a homeless and jobless single mother addicted to drugs raising her kids. I am sure this woman exists, and I hope she has help, but I don’t personally know her, so I cannot possibly impact her. I can only impact the real life flesh and blood people that are within my circle of influence. I do know the families on my son’s baseball team that show symptoms of being unloved, unchurched and unsaved. I also know that they eat food, because they are humans, and I could share a meal with them.
I am also reminded of the poor that are struggling to have physical needs met on a daily basis—Paul in Galatians 2:10 reminds believers to “not forget the poor.” HIstorically, it has always been the church that has been at the forefront of meeting needs within the community through the creation of hospitals, schools and other nonprofits. Reverend Greene started a Christian education academy at his church to meet the learning needs of the folks in his community. He shared,
“I want to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.”
I was inspired by Reverend Greene’s commitment to giving hope to those who felt hopeless.
Parents and teachers need to help their students bridge the gaps in their lives. While some students excel in school, many struggle to perform at a high level and meet expectations. I am thankful for Reverend Greene’s example as a bridge builder for those who need a little bit of hope and encouragement. To whom much is given, much is required!
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