On Wednesdays, I am going to be featuring guest posts by some of my blogging friends, who are going to share their real-life stories of Kintsugi in action. Today I’m delighted to welcome Debby Hudson to share the story of the very special community where she works and ministers.
The two men taking up our Sunday offering aren’t elders or deacons. They aren’t pastors or teachers. One of them probably doesn’t know the Bible is divided into Old and New Testaments.
He is the young one. The other man is at the tail end of the baby boom generation. John’s shirt sleeves are rolled up revealing his tattooed forearm.
They move up and down the aisles passing the plate, sometimes pausing to make change. There have been times in both of their lives they wouldn’t be trusted with money and I don’t think this is lost on them.
A band has formed among this group of addicts and alcoholics. It probably started on the smoke deck, one musician finding others. Or maybe in the dining room or when one heard another picking on an acoustic guitar in the chapel. They’re metal heads and rockers and have known little of church and its music, new or old. The first song they played on Sunday was the closest they could find to what they thought would fit in church. The amps and distortion turned up as the lead sang out, “Oooh-oh-oh, heaven let your light shine down”. (Shine Down, by rock group Collective Soul.)
They’ve played Knocking on Heaven’s Door and Tears In Heaven and some original songs they’ve written with words leaning more toward a Saving God.
We’ve been in this area of ministry 13 years and I never tire of hearing them encourage one another. It never gets old seeing their comfort in this gathering for worship that in a traditional setting can easily become rehearsed. I think some may not know what a testimony is when we have this time of sharing but they’ll stand and offer from an honest place both struggles and triumphs.
Though scripture is read, prayers prayed, hymns sung and testimonies shared, there is no official membership in this church. Some who have completed this 6-month program come back to worship with us. They come back to encourage others and strengthen their souls. They come back as one beggar showing another where the bread is. That is the membership required for this fellowship of the broken.
There is no hiding the jagged edges of their brokenness when they come here. This is not their first stop to getting their life back on track. We are free and that’s why they come. For some we are three hots and a cot. We are enough to get them back to believing they aren’t broken but only nicked a bit. And the cycle of in and out begins.
Like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, we brush on bits of gold in their broken places. We layer counseling with purpose and meditation with celebration. We fill the cracks and join the broken bits again.
There is a physical transformation that is first evident. The thin frame from a diet of heroin or crack is fed three good meals. They have a clean bed and hot shower. They’re given clean clothes and good shoes. The face on their photo badge taken when they came through our doors barely resembles the clean shaven, healthy face three weeks later.
Their day begins with encouragement from God’s word, with prayer, with purpose in work therapy. We fill their days with process groups, 12-step meetings, bowling team, softball team, free concerts in the park, Celebrate Recovery, and all we know to show them God is transforming every broken bit into a new vessel filled with his mercy and grace.
This is the gold that binds the broken.
Some will leave carrying their fragile pieces with them. We pray for their safety. We pray for their restoration. We rest knowing we’ve done our part.
Others leave bearing the gold marks of God’s fingerprints across their life. There’s a sparkle, a hint of glitter from the gold. It’s in the eyes and how they beam telling of God’s saving grace. It’s in their talk and their walk.
We are the fellowship of the broken. Being mended daily by God’s unending grace.
My husband and I partner in ministry as ordained ministers in The Salvation Army. We’ve been involved with the recovery community for 13 years and are Administrators of a six-month residential program for men. Through our work in this area, we see hope on a daily basis. We are witnesses to God’s amazing grace. When I’m not being a surrogate mom to these men, I enjoy many artistic endeavors and share a lot of them on my Facebook page.