Almost a year has passed since God put “Jack” in my path while my daughter and I volunteered at the Distribution Center after the #GatlinburgFires. If you aren’t familiar with his story please take a moment to read about it here.
For those who prayed, thank you. For those who sent clothes, thank you, and money, thank you. To the Gillette Motel who allowed Jack to stay, and the readers who paid for him to stay when he had no other place, thank you. Jack and I pour a lot of love into those two little words. Truly, we still weep at your kindness. You helped save him!
It is difficult to write an update while maintaining my vault-like confidentiality. I pride myself on being a person in whom you can place your trust. So I will continue to use the name Jack when referring to our friend to maintain our level of trust.
Something happens to a person when the fires of hell walk through your rented home, a home shared with other young adults. Yes, Dolly Parton extended money to those whose names were on the lease. Yes, many received financial help. Jack did not. Jack didn’t because he was “chipping in” along with another person to pay rent: three together living in a cabin that didn’t even have a full-size refrigerator. That is the reality of the working poor across this country. A reality of finding someone with good credit who can sign a lease, but can only afford rent payments if two other friends pitch in, sleeping on a couch, on a cot, on the floor. When the fire torched their rented home and scorched the earth, the roommates parted. Two stayed with family, for a time Jack didn’t. Jack worked 30 hours a week, and then 20 hours a week when tourists stopped coming. Jack depended on us.
Young people don’t have credit these days. Their cell phones are in the names of their parents (or paid month-to-month via Walmart gift cards); their cars (if they have one) are in the names of their parents. This, compared to most of us who had a credit card at age eighteen with a five-hundred-dollar limit. It took years for us to establish “good credit.” These days, working for $8.00-10.00 an hour while owning nothing isn’t conducive to establishing good credit, but I digress.
By the end of January 2017, Jack careened toward rock bottom. His family lived miles away. He had always walked to work, and he desperately wanted to stay in Gatlinburg. That didn’t happen. Rock bottom landed him in Georgia, where he received grief, and spiritual, counseling.
God love those Georgia folk.
Jack has spent a year in Georgia. Healing. Getting better. Reading The Word. Getting help. Journaling his Journey and dreaming of a future.
A few weeks ago, he returned to Tennessee, and currently works for UPS while praying they put him on full-time.
He has dreams. Big dreams of working in ministry. No one knows The Word like our Jack. He’s an encourager, a believer, and the ultimate example of how God uses others- regardless of their faith, or belief- to pull someone out of the miry rock-bottom clay. I pray God opens this door for Jack.
He dreams of attending school. He wants to go to Bible College, but like others working through post-traumatic stress, he doesn’t really know how to make that happen. He doesn’t exactly have a load of money with which to fund his dreams. Let us unite in prayer that someone can guide him.
Dear Ones, the young man whom God thrust into our lives . . . well, he’s so grateful. He’s trusting God.
He’s taking his life one day at a time. He appreciates your prayers and I appreciate your trust.
Renea Winchester is the author of a Hardscrabble Christmas and other works of non-fiction. She is currently working on her novel, Outbound Train.