During this commemorative year, we are continuing in the spirit of prayer of our founders and sharing a series of meditations and calls to prayer from across the NBA community.
During my time as Director of Church Relations with NBA (1997-2004), I had the immense blessing to visit nearly all of the NBA-related ministries across the U.S. Among my most cherished visits were the ones to our HUD low-income senior facilities. My memories of meeting with residents, both in groups and as I was invited to sit in their apartments and hear their stories, touched my heart then, and still do today. What an inspiration to hear comments from them, who were living in very tiny one-bedroom apartments:
…With an apartment barely filled with any furniture, but a view of the Tampa Bay out his window, Charles said, “Last week I was living on the street. Now look at me: I am living like a king! Praise Jesus!”
…Mary was 93 but still able to live alone in her tiny space: “For over two years I was sleeping on the living room couch in my granddaughter’s house, and then a friend told me about this place, and I applied and was so fortunate that there was an opening. Honestly, this is the nicest place I have ever lived in my life.”
…Sophia sat before me with bruises on her face and arms as she explained that she had decided her husband would never hit her again, so she packed a bag and walked to the bus stop to go somewhere. She did not know where, but she was leaving everything in her world behind. Suddenly her husband appeared, grabbed her luggage, opened it, flung all her earthly possessions on the ground, stomped on them, and took off. A woman in the grocery store by the bus stop saw it all and came to her rescue. She took her to the apartments where her mother lived–an NBA facility. Sophia said to me, “The good people here have given me everything I have: clothes, furniture, personal items. This place saved my life as I was ready to give up and simply die.”
Loving and Compassionate God, every day we see the faces of Charles and Mary and Sophia at our grocery store or fast food restaurant or street corner. May the words of Jesus never allow us to do nothing. “For I was hungry and you fed me; thirsty and you gave me drink; a stranger and you welcomed me; sick and you took care of me; naked and you clothed me; in prison and you visited me…” (Matthew 25:35-36.)
How wonderful that the ministries of NBA have known these words for 130 years. Oh, God, write these words on our hearts. In the name of the One who has called us to serve, even Jesus, Amen.
–Rev. Dr. Ben Bohren, former NBA Director of Church Relations, current NBA XPLOR Mission Specialist