by Kay Etheredge
It is good to be back at Brother Bryan Mission. I missed roughly a month due to surgery and then another week because of the birth of our third grandchild. I walked in today and didn’t like that I grappled for a sense of familiarity. It was mid-morning before I was able to settle myself into what felt like routine.
Because the office I am loaned is at the front of the building I hear street noises and conversations from the sidewalk right outside. Usually the sounds coming from the sidewalk are raucous and there have been times that I have become uneasy at their intensity. This morning I heard singing coming from inside the building…loud singing…singing that sounded natural and unaffected by the presence of others. I asked someone who was singing and I was told it was Bobby, the head of the kitchen. It is always, always a good sign when someone is singing and cooking at the same time. It was a joy to hear his loud praise songs accompanied by wonderful smells coming from the kitchen.
As the morning progressed we began to count the rent money from the program men and apply it to their accounts. As I began to do that I realized I was freezing and commented to my husband that I would have to go home and get a sweater. He got up to check the thermostat and found that someone had set it to 65 degrees. One of the men came by the office and we began to discuss how cold it was and how low the thermostat was set. He said that sometimes some of the men turn on the water in the shower and while they wait for it to get hot they shave and leave the water running. He said he comments frequently that these same men would never do that in their own homes but because they’re at a mission they think it’s okay, but he feels like they are wasting what is God’s…His money and His water.
As we continued the task of counting and re-counting my husband commented that three men, all who had once been in the program at Brother Bryan Mission, came by and gave a donation earmarked for food. This was done in response to a social media post that showed the scarcity of food in the BBM pantry, and the conversation turned to how well each man is doing and how all three of their faces glowed with pleasure at being able to donate money to help restock the mission pantry. They showed great delight in being able to give back. I stop my typing as I hear children’s voices coming in for lunch, and it is encouraging to know that in these summer months when children are out of school and there are parents who may struggle to feed them, they can come to Brother Bryan Mission and enjoy a hot and hearty meal and in a small way, a sense of being part of a family.
It is now afternoon and I will soon have a cup of hot tea to both warm me and help me stay alert. And down the hall I hear Daniel talking about the gospel with an outside guest as other staff members try to find a way to get a bus ticket for this same guest to go to Montgomery. I hear brief parts of a conversation with the guest’s mom on the phone as she says with a quivering voice, “Baby, why can’t you stay in one place?” And hopefully by this afternoon he will be on his way home to see his mom thanks to people at Brother Bryan Mission who care.
This is a good place and I have missed having even the tiniest part in this ministry. People are fed here, both physically and spiritually. Men, women, and children are welcome for a hot meal. The staff seeks to minister the gospel and help people turn from the darkness of addiction to the warmth and light of hope. There are beautiful children who ate a good meal today prepared by a man who praises our Creator loudly and from the heart while he cooks. Their smiles radiated the satisfaction that comes with a full tummy.
I wish I could be in Montgomery tonight when a man in a do-rag with an infectious smile hugs his mama. Five weeks is a long time to be away from this ministry. I am very grateful to be back.