Where to start?
As people may be aware I am a supervisor for a supported employment organisation. I take men with a variety of mental illnesses on gardening jobs 4 days a week. I really enjoy working with the guys and am seem to be having reasonable success as a I attempt to live and share the gospel in this environment.
The downside is that the money is very poor. With a wife and 3 young boys we find it a challenge to make ends meet although we get through each fortnight. I was becoming very demoralised and started looking for another job. I applied for 3 jobs, each of which I was more than capable of doing. Each of the jobs would pay more than my current role. I felt quietly confident of being able to move into something, possibly less rewarding, but more financially stable. I was doing this for my family.
The first job was as a residential support worker with people with mental illnesses. I didn't get an interview. Next up was very bizarre. I applied for a position on a call centre with a prominent government agency. The interview was a group process and various tests. There were 1200 applicants and I made it to the 60 picked for the selection process leading to a final interview.
Last week I got a phone call from the recruitment agency. I got 100% in the numeracy test, 100% in the literacy test and outstanding in every other area except one; in the telephone role play they felt my empathy skills were not quite up to scratch; this was after a 5 minute role play with an actor on the other end of the phone.
I am not trying to be arrogant but I felt that after a nearless flawless selection process I was hard done by until my pastor, that evening, said that he felt clearly that I wouldn't get the role as it would under utilise my ministry skills to a great extent. This was very encouraging but left me wondering about the future. By this time I felt God say that the third position, a chaplaincy role, was not for me either. It was no surprise to receive an email informing me that I had not even been offered the courtesy of an interview for the chaplaincy position.
I spoke to my pastor again this week to reflect on this process. He affirmed that I needed to see my current job not as underpaid labouring but as ministry. I currently have 3 of the men and one of their partners attending church and we are planning to run an evangelism course. I also have 3 other men showing a strong interest. This is from a team of 21 men. I have never seen myself as evangelistic or missional but over this past week I am beginning to realise that God has put a missional calling to mentally ill men on my heart.
My pastor also surprised me by saying that, as soon as he can, he wants to put me on staff part-time so I can do my current role as well as supporting my local church in a paid position. So, at the end of a strange fortnight I feel that God is making his intentions for my life clear. I have accepted, before God, a call to these men for whom I am their one clear link to Jesus.
Please pray for us. At the present time we still struggle to make ends meet plus I now have to try and find money for text books for my Masters degree. I am planning to publish a prayer letter which will also ask people to consider financially supporting us. I am cautious in taking this approach but I want to let people know that I am walking this path in obedience to God and we, as a family, need support in many ways. I am excited for the future.