Many times we tell you stories about our amazing guests, and how God is working in their lives and bringing restoration to challenging circumstances. But this month I want to tell you about an amazing woman that God brought to the mission 27 years ago. She is one of our staff, and if I showed you her daily list of things that she does to help in the production and provision of food – it would make your head spin like a top.
Her name is Bergie Clay, and Bergie has been faithfully serving at The Mission for 27 years now, and she is retiring this month! Bergie works so hard, and we are so blessed by all her hard work, for so many years. But there is a lot more to Bergie than the hard work. Bergie is fun, she is funny, she is deep, and if you have volunteered at the mission over the last 27 years – you have probably had many a laugh and many a memory with Bergie.
And this week, her legacy was even more permanently stamped in our minds. Bergie answered for us all, the most important thing, and that is the “why”. Why has Bergie done this for so long, and why has she done it so faithfully?
This week we were having a time of Bible study at The Mission and we were reading from 1 John 3:16-18. It is this profound passage that talks about how we know what love is, because of Jesus showing us His perfect love in laying down His life. And then it goes on to talk about helping people in need. As a staff we really got stuck on that word “need”. There was lots of conversation about seeing needs, meeting needs, responding to needs, and what are people’s needs. It was a long conversation. But then Bergie said something profound, and I also think it answers the question of her “why”.
Bergie said, “You know what I think about when I see the word ‘need’, is that I have been in need, and God has always helped me in my time of need. That is what I focus on most.” Wow, in that moment, I think we were all stopped in our tracks. So many times we start with the people around us, and the needs they have, and the needs out there are broad. But Bergie helped us all back up a bit and remember first and foremost, that I was in need, and God met my needs, is still meeting all my needs, and will always meet all my needs.
I asked Bergie the next day, why she felt that focusing first on the fact that God had met her needs, had helped her meet other people’s needs at The Mission for 27 years. And she said, “I think it gave me a freedom, it took the pressure off.” I think so many times we know we are called to meet the needs of people around us. But sometimes it is only the need we are looking at. How do I meet this need? Does this person really have a need? And why don’t they just get a job? Why don’t they just pull themselves out of this pit?
But Bergie has left us a legacy, to just back up a bit and start with remembering that we each have had needs. And Jesus has met those needs, in every way, and every time. And knowing that we were in need, puts us all on the same playing field. And finding freedom in that alone, takes tons of pressure off – freeing us up to just help and not line up all the questions and what if’s.
Thank you Bergie Clay for so many years of hard and happy work at The Mission! And thank you for answering the “why”. We will continue to help everyone in need, because He has met all our needs. And the freedom in that, fuels us forward…
Paul R. Gates