I Am a Witness: Reflections of God’s Grace
June 23, 2014
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10 NIV
No one is immune to suffering. We all have experienced some type of pain in our lives. And although we experience suffering, God promises to restore and strengthen us. I believe God uses places like Hillcrest, to restore and strengthen people. I have been a witness of God’s work at Hillcrest. And it is my privilege to share the great things God has and is doing!
One of the biggest components of my ministry is being present with the people I serve. I am not just someone who fills a pulpit on Sunday, but rather, I enter into the lives of the clients and staff of Hillcrest. So, I spend a lot of time in the group homes, developing relationships and role modeling to the best of my ability the truths I have found in the scripture. Because of my presence and transparency with clients and staff, I have been able to develop healthy relationships.
On one particular day, a client told me that I was like a father to him. I was quite moved by his comment. And it caused me to realize the gravity of my position as a chaplain. In other words, for some clients I am their closest example of a father or parent. I am incredible humbled that God would allow me to be in this position.
Moreover, one of the adolescent boys wanted to talk to be about his behavioral issues. He told me about the guilt he faces regularly for the things he has done. It became apparent by the heaviness of this voice and the swelling of his eyes that he wanted forgiveness for the things he had done. Recognizing this, I told him about the grace and forgiveness found in Jesus Christ. And then, as I was praying with him, he was overwhelmed with emotions and had tears running down his face. He was grateful that I heard his struggles, and I was humbled by the opportunity to minister the unconditional love that Christ gives to us all. Thanks be to God!
On one occasion I sent out a mass email to the Hillcrest network. It was an email with a devotional about prayer. I then asked the staff to respond to me with their prayer requests. I was grateful for the many responses I received. There were prayer requests for health issues, family crisis, marriages, and many other things. I was privileged to be invited into the lives of the staff by receiving their requests.
After preaching at the annual leadership meeting for Hillcrest, I received an email from one of the managers. She told me that she felt inadequate to do her job, and she was questioning God’s ability to help her. However, after she heard me preach, she felt encouraged to continue doing her work. She said, “I can say today I got God’s message loud and clear and was a little emotional today! So for that I thank you.” This was very encouraging to me.
As I was visiting some of the adolescent group homes, one of the direct care staff asked to speak with me privately. She burst into tears as she began to tell me the struggles of her personal life apart from Hillcrest. She wanted me to give her some Bible verses that would speak directly to her situation. However, I realized that she not only needed to hear God’s word, but she needed a listening ear. After listening to her for quite some time, I began to encourage her. I told her about the grace of God and was able to point out the good things in her life. She then gave me the biggest smile I have ever seen on her face! I prayed with her and she was ready to continue with her good work at Hillcrest.
A staff member who comes to my chapel service regularly, wanted to talk with me about one of my sermons. He said that he likes my messages because it speaks to him directly. We have had many talks about faith. He has even approached me with the Bible and asked me about certain passages. One time he expressed that he really wants to have a relationship with God. He has been one of the many staff members who have been inspired to talk about matters of faith.
Furthermore, I am impressed by the level of participation at the chapel service. The kids are eager to lead parts of the worship service. They participate in the leading of songs, reading of scripture, prayers, and there is even a youth committee that meets once a month to discuss ideas for chapel and the community as a whole. Interestingly, some kids are so eager that they have expressed their desire to speak in chapel – to give a testimony of what God is doing in their life!
God is at work in the community of Hillcrest. And I am so grateful to be a part of it. As the scripture says, “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isa. 64:8). God is in the process of molding and reshaping the lives at Hillcrest. Suffering lasts for a little while, but God is strengthening and restoring, and I am a witness of such things.
Thank you for your prayers and support of Hillcrest.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you,” (2 Cor. 13:13).
Chaplain Brian Beverly II