I haven’t done an update recently and thought it would be a good time to do so as I am trying to get back on track this week with a number of things. For those that followed the last newsletter from The Virtual Pew you will know this has been a crazy summer. From issues with my son, to my wife having surgery on her foot and leg, and then to my having to spend some time in Tennessee due to my mothers death. It has been busy!
Some time ago I knew I wanted to document my experiences with my mom. Many may or may not know of the abuse I went through as a child. That story is well documented but I also believe that sometimes, life has to go on and if the only story a person has is from years ago, then they haven’t really moved on. That said, that doesn’t mean we forget the past, it doesn’t mean we don’t learn from it, but we have to move on.
I don’t know how to explain it, but this last year, has been a year of forgiveness and growing. It has been a year that started at Christmas and continues on. I realized the need to forgive my mom this last Christmas. I needed to tell her of my love and offer forgiveness before she died from cancer. I am and will forever be grateful for my willingness to step out and do what needed to be done. In the process I learned so much about not just my mom, but myself. I’m still learning about myself, life goes on and I choose to live.
I have recently been speaking with the folks at TiRoMa Films in Tulsa Oklahoma about doing the movie of my life. They were my first choice of movie companies. I had seen the movie Jesus Fish and was quite impressed with their willingness to be real, but also in their ability to tell a story. The talent of the storytelling in the movie reminded meof the movie Slumdog Millionaire and the ability of Danny Boyle. While this was a new company, with new talent, I saw what I felt was potential. We actually begin talking about the possibility of a movie prior to my trip to Tennessee this summer. It was about a month later, after my mothers’ death and my return home that I visited with Titus, Rob, and Matt and their families in Tulsa alongside with my wife to discuss the movie. While I had contacted various film and movie companies, this was my first choice.
To make a long story short, it was over dinner and about half way through the conversation where I was giving my pitch and telling my story that Titus, stated this was a movie that they had to do. Rob and Matt were in agreement and I could see the tears in some of the eyes of the wives as I told my story. Titus was emphatic about making the movie, Rob was telling the other two how he had told them so, and Matt was telling us how the story needed to be told on Oprah. To be honest, I didn’t then, and I don’t now, know quite how to feel. While I am excited about the story helping others, it is still a tragic story that I have had to live. It is a story though that I know others have also lived. The thought of providing hope makes the journey worthwhile.
Some who have known me over the years, who have followed the work I have done will state I should be thrilled because there is a chance that after all of these years of giving my family may have a chance to use the movie as a tool to release the book The Keystone Kid, and it could be the catalyst that propels me to where I can make a decent living. I guess I understand that, I pray for that but not for the reason many think.
I don’t think all people understand that it isn’t the same thing that drives us. I have never had money, never much anyway although some could say that my days as an executive director of a mental health rehabilitation facility paid me quite well. Money though has never driven me, I have mixed feelings here because I realize the sacrifice my wife has made to allow this ministry to take place, I realize the sacrifices my children had to make. While I haven’t been able to give them material things, I hope they have learned life lessons on how to treat people, respect the poor, and serve their communities and society. Those are the things that drive me, always have.
While in Tulsa I got to do something that was valuable to me. I spent time with individuals I had the honor of serving when I was the Executive Director of Crossroads in Tulsa. To hear the stories of those individuals, to spend time with those who realized the love I had for them was reassuring. The plight of the mentally ill is something that drives me and moves me. To know they still love me, miss me, and remember the good things about me and my love for them was moving. I will forever encourage them to stand up, to do what is right. When working with this population, it is sad many have forgotten the vision of equality, they have forgotten the need to serve, and they have forgotten their roots. No one needs to be treated like a second class citizen, yet programs and professionals, at times parents, and even agencies and consumers of services either do these things, or allow them to happen.
Now back to what is going on with me, The Virtual Pew, and Mosaic Wichita. While in Tennessee I visited the house and community where a lot of abuse was taking place in my life. I have always been a dreamer and visionary and while there I had the desire to establish an Abuse Recovery Center that focused on recovery for persons who had been physically and sexually abused. I dreamed to one day own the property in Johnson City, and establish a program that would provide services on an as you can afford basis. It would be wonderful if one day I helped establish a series of centers around the country. If I had the property in Johnson City, and another in Wichita based through the church I pastor then I would feel I had lived a life, made a contribution, and had made a difference. I couldn’t then, and can’t now, get this concept out of my mind and have in fact started to move on it.
Shortly after my return to Wichita I met with the leadership team at church regarding my vision and desire. It was in some ways a natural progression as our church, a new church plant in Wichita. The church almost died, and after a year of service on my part we just celebrated our relaunch. Mosaic is about to loose funding which has allowed us to operate over the last year. We are requesting additional funding for the unique situation we are in but that has yet to be determined.
I presented the possibility to our leadership of me starting to provide some counseling and rehab services through the church. This is where most of my training and experience is. Helping those abused has been a passion for obvious reasons, and it is a way to potentially bring in income that I am at risk of loosing. The leadership team supported the concept and felt it would also be a good program for our church.
Starting in October, Mosaic Wichita will be launching Mosaic Abuse and Recovery Center, or Mosaic ARC. Myself and Debbie Elwood, a Masters Level Certified Counselor and member at Mosaic will be starting a recovery program specifically designed and designated for persons who have been through physical and sexual abuse. We have a lot of work to do but one of the unique attributes of the program is it will be provided for an as you can afford basis. In other words, no invoices, no set price for services, and we will be provide services to individuals despite their ability or inability to pay.
This will naturally require time, and will involve additional expenses for Mosaic. We are hoping to garnish support from not only the local church community, but also the local community at large. We need help in the solicitation of grants and income and we are willing to see people from around the country, even helping house people coming into the area to access the services.
This is a large venture for little ol’ Mosaic and me. It is a venture that is needed. There are few resources available to help individuals recover from abuse, especially services that are provided despite the ability to pay or not. For those familiar with my ministry, and the ministry of The Virtual Pew, you know how important this type of program is. Mosaic ARC will address and help individuals where they are, despite their religious beliefs or financial status.
There is a lot of work to be done, and for those who are interested in helping out or being a part of this program, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We still have to decorate the office for this and are in need of a comfortable couch and chair, a nice desk with computer station, appropriate decorations and more. While starting out in the Mosaic facility, we hope to grow to the point where we can access the space next to us which is available for $300 a month. This would increase the space for Mosaic but also provide additional space for Mosaic ARC. We also need a few things to decorate the Mosaic lobby which will be used as a reception and waiting area for Mosaic ARC. It should also be noted that all services provided will be strictly confidential.
Things are moving forward and life is moving on, many of you have helped with this, but ultimately we know God is the one who has provided. We hope this ministry will be something not just for the Wichita community but for individuals across the country who so desperately need these types of services.
As to the future, who knows? A movie, a book, a ministry that seeks to provide healing to those experiencing the horror of abuse, this ministry refuses to stop. As long as there are hurting people, as long as there are those seeking to know and discover love, may we strive to be the best we can be. There is hope, I know that hope, it is my desire to share the hope I have found with those who are still searching. Hang in there, there is more than a light at the end of the tunnel, there is joy, and ultimately there is purpose and meaning, it was there for me, it is there for you.
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