Updated: Dec 2, 2022
When I first met Jodie, I was sitting in The Roastery at Oliver Gospel. One of the first things I noticed about Jodie is that he is an encourager. Even as he is walking his own journey through the Rebuild program, he comes alongside dozens of men in our community, encouraging them to dig deep, ask for help, and find faith in God.
The second thing I learned about Jodie was his remarkable memory. Many of our guests have blurred memories of their first day at Oliver Gospel, which is not uncommon for those experiencing homelessness. When a person is in crisis, not knowing where their next meal is coming from or where they will lay their head that night, it becomes difficult to remember the past or look to the future. This shortened time horizon means that a lot of our guests don’t remember what they ate at their first meal at Oliver Gospel.
Not Jodie. Jodie vividly remembers every aspect of his first meal. He was hungry, but more than physical hunger, Jodie was hungry for faith. He knew that God was doing some BIG work in his life by bringing him to Oliver Gospel.
Jodie doesn’t just remember his meals. When Jodie was in grade school, his little sister was killed in a house shooting. It changed his life forever. He can’t forget it. He remembers every detail. How was he supposed to forgive this man if he couldn’t forget what he had done?
In the days and years following the shooting, Jodie struggled to find the forgiveness he knew he was called to give. He wrestled with what he knew to be true in Scripture with the pain of those memories. After some time and some wrong turns, Jodie found forgiveness in his heart.
“I was so bottled up with stuff that I let everything go to my head,” says Jodie. In his newfound forgiveness, Jodie found freedom.
“When I think about your freedom, I think about the way God has brought me from where I was at. When I was homeless, God was like ‘Nuh-uh, I am about to bring you to a new place and turn your freedom loose.’”
As Jodie walked through the doors at Oliver Gospel, he took the first steps of his journey to freedom. Jodie lives in the Light of forgiveness and freedom that only Jesus Christ can give him. If you met Jodie today, you would see it. You would see it in his cheerful grin. You'd see it in the way he encourages his brothers in their own journeys at Oliver Gospel.
Each one of us could learn from Jodie. Take a moment and search your heart. Are you withholding forgiveness from someone? Is that robbing you of freedom? As Jodie encourages so many at Oliver Gospel with his story, I hope he encourages you. You can find freedom and goodness on the other side of the door of forgiveness!