On a chilly November day, a child was born in a Salvation Army hospital. As he was placed in his mother’s arms, his eyes opened and he encountered his very first vision of love. Love from the parents who held him and love from the nurses and doctors who wrapped him in blankets and introduced him to this new world. Little did the staff, nor his parents know what lay ahead for this young man. They had no inkling as to the immense impact this one child would have on the lives of everyone he came in contact with. But God knew……..
This infant soon grew to be a very outgoing and personable child, who never met a stranger, everyone was a friend, This young boy watched his parents work in a Nashville Salvation Army Community Center and observed the love that each shared with the numerous children who walked through the doors. He mentally took note of the words that were used, the kind gestures and the absence of judgement.
This child grew into a young man who served heroically in our US Military during Vietnam as a Marine and documented in various articles what was seen and heard amidst the war. This young man came home, married and soon enough welcomed his own children into the world. He worked tirelessly to advocate for incarcerated youth, then became head of Buddies of Nashville, now called Big Brothers, Big Sisters. But, soon enough, where he started, is where he was destined to land and this man began serving at The Salvation Army in Knoxville, cultivating relationships and striving to bring awareness to the many works of “The Army.”
He eventually moved back to Nashville and kick-started the community center where he grew up into the Red Shield Family Initiative and introduced many new agencies to the shield and our mission. He then moved over to the Nashville Area Command of The Salvation Army and continued his work of sharing the love, mission and ministry of this great Army!
All the while, no matter where he worked or how long he worked, this man always found time to meet a need whenever it presented itself. Whether it’s driving a bus downtown to pick up those who are homeless and bring them back for a hot Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, or driving a canteen to serve breakfast to members of our street family on Tuesday mornings. Visiting a little buddy at a local elementary school, to help him with homework or just listen to him and encourage him. Making time for anyone who walked into his office, stopping whatever he was doing, turn around and give his full attention; enabling you to feel heard and understood. Visiting hospitals whenever he caught wind that someone had been admitted, initiating and managing a daily prayer warrior list and the list could go on and on and on…….
Now, this man is retiring from his full time work with The Salvation Army but not from serving Others. On Friday, September 27th, family and friends gathered in the small gym of the local Salvation Army community center to pay homage but not to a career, rather a way of life. A life that through numerous acts of kindness was able to manifest immense life change in others. Many people took the podium and shared on how their life was affected by this one man. Children, who fell under his mentor-ship, now accomplished adults, wiped away tears as they recalled someone who provided them with hope and let them know they were never alone.
Now, has he stopped working altogether? Is he just relaxing on his back porch, soaking in the early morning sun with a fresh cup of coffee with his lovely bride Jo? Yes and no. He is savoring some very special time with his family, but he continues to work part time for The Salvation Army as the Community Relations Director as well as speak on love and hope to inmates at local CCA prisons with his wife Jo.
Full blown retirement is not on Mike’s radar as he feels need is all around us and as long as there is a heartbeat within him, he will constantly seek ways to make a difference and to love the least of these, for Him and Them.
We love you Mike!