By Chuck Brooks, Baptist Family & Children’s Services
For about five years now, we have dedicated staff time to answer telephone calls from individuals and families in need. We have found that people most often call because of financial crisis, often one that has threatened them with homelessness or utility shutoffs.
To respond to all of our callers, we created a database full of contact information for helpful resources like food pantries, homeless shelters, and agencies that offer financial assistance to families in serious financial trouble. Our database also contains helpful resources for those who call needing to be connected with churches or agencies that that will assist them with marriage or parenting issues. We’ve given out our helpline number to churches and community groups, urging them to use it when they come face to face with a family or individual in need.
Each year, the numbers of families calling us has increased, and in the last twelve months we fielded 462 calls for help.
When a family calls, we offer more than information and referrals. Many agencies do that kind of work. We’re different because we take the time to listen and have committed the time and resources to make sure that each caller gets an individualized response that includes counseling and, where appropriate, prayer. We also follow up with each of our callers to make sure that we made a positive impact on their lives.
Recently we took a call from a grandmother whose granddaughter has problems focusing her attention. The mother of this child has been out of her life most of the time and the father is ill and lives in home. Both parents were drug users. The child went through withdrawal for 15 days after birth. I was able to share with this caller how my wife and I adopted our niece who was born three months early at 1.5 lbs. My daughter too has problems focusing but almost 12 years later, God is still working!
The following is taken from a letter the caller wrote sometime after we talked:
Dear Chuck, Only God could have connected us this morning. I could feel your warm and concerned spirit the moment you said “hello;” you truly blessed and comforted me. God is truly a loving God and I experience His mercy and loving kindness each and every day. It is so good to be in the “Family of God.”
Thank you very much for the counseling agencies information, I will pray before contacting one of them, I prefer the Christian agency.
In closing, you are a wonderful encourager, a true blessing to others. I will remember you, Rosie, your wife and your entire family in my prayers and will be sure to mention you to my pastor.
Another caller needed transitional housing. She had struggled with drug addiction and as a result, her children were removed from her custody and she and her husband were separated. She could get her children back if she moved into larger living quarters. The caller also inquired about an environment that would provide her with a support system—she said that she struggled with emotional ups and downs. I listened and then prayed for this caller. Afterwards, the client asked about the church where I served as a pastor. A couple weeks later she showed up at my church with her family. Several weeks later I received the following email:
“Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. I have taken over my daughter’s apartment, My husband and I are back together.It will still be at least another year before I will have a chance to get a place big enough for the kids but, my husband is with me and so God is moving on my behalf. I know that healing and rebuilding requires patience and time and so I will allow God to work as he has in my life. I love Him so much for all that he has done already. And I thank you for your extension of love and understanding.”
An elderly woman called with an amazing story. For the last five years she has been enduring the blistering cold of winter with no heat in her home. She is on a fixed income of about $650 per month. One of the ways she gets by is by keeping her BGE bill below $60. She does this by shutting all the bedroom doors of her house and sleeping on the floor in her hallway under an electric blanket. She also lives off “dollar store” food. We got this woman’s information from a concerned Christian who called to tell us that her refrigerator went bad—blowing black soot throughout her first floor. It’s going to cost $5,000 to have a restoration company to clean up the soot. We would love to help this woman but we can’t solve every problem that comes to us. We very often know the way, but the resources are sometimes hard to come by.
If you know of a family facing a crisis and they feel like they do not have a safe place to turn, please give them our toll-free Helpline number: (800) 621-8834.
We would be happy to offer them information and encouragement.