Mission in My Words: Kevin Avery

Mission in My Words: Kevin Avery

A couple of years ago, my wife Tracy and I were invited to attend Nashville Rescue Mission’s annual Hearts of Hope luncheon. It was an excellent opportunity to support a cause that is near and dear to our hearts, and also see our son perform with country music legend Reba McEntire. As you can imagine, we were extremely excited. But our story and connection to those experiencing homelessness goes back about 20 years before this event; back to South Florida and a man named Mr. Jim.

When we lived in South Florida, I would regularly see a homeless man around our neighborhood and often sitting outside of the local grocery store. After a few failed attempts at offering him food, I later learned he delivered flyers for a local sub shop, and they would feed him in exchange. After some awkward conversation starters, Mr. Jim and I became friends.

We became such good friends that I would hope to see him on my way home from work so we could chat in the warm Florida sun. I learned Jim was from New York and made his way to Florida for the warm weather. He told me about his family, his failed marriage, and his kids that he hadn’t seen in years. Jim shared a lot of his life, and I did the same in return. He was thrilled to be one of the first to learn my wife was pregnant with our 3rd child, beaming at the news. He even came up with the name, Amber Faith, his sister’s name, and a name that fit our daughter perfectly.

Mr. Jim and I had a profound impact on each other. Jim forced me out of my comfort zone and into his life. His rejection of my offers of food was an invitation for me to see him as a human being. To recognize the God-breathed dignity that was inside the dirty and gruff exterior. Jim went from the one-dimensional, lowly homeless guy, to my friend. To the man, I am proud to say named my daughter.

It’s one of the reasons why I am excited about the work of Nashville Rescue Mission. We became personally involved with the Mission after our son Kyle played drums for Caroline Kole and Reba at that annual luncheon.

As we learned of the awe-inspiring work the Mission does every day, Tracy and I were moved to tears. We were overwhelmed with emotion as we heard stories of broken people being restored by experiencing the life-changing and unconditional love of God. We saw and heard women telling of dramatic and sudden slips from normal productive lives to being destitute, homeless, and often addicted. And the common thread in these stories was the redemption and healing they found at Nashville Rescue Mission.

My plea to you is to answer the call of God to participate in His work, right here in Nashville. You have the opportunity to give of yourself, satisfy the afflicted, and become a light for those in darkness. God’s graces are abundant, and we have been lavished with them! Share them! Give them freely! This is YOUR chance to make a difference, and as we say on 94FM The Fish, to let people know that They Matter!

With a blend of encouraging music, real life conversations, and good clean fun, listeners will feel like Kevin and Taylor are a part of their own families. A show that moms and dads can listen to and be entertained with music and content that’s relevant to their life and enjoyable for the whole family. The best part is there’s no changing stations to avoid topics the kids in the car shouldn’t hear. Kevin and Taylor are heard weekday mornings on 94 FM the FISH. 94.1 FM, 93.7 FM, and 104.9 FM on your Nashville radio.

It’s About Christ and The Kids

It’s About Christ and The Kids

It’s been 12 years, and Gina hasn’t stopped praying for the kids she met during her first visit to Nashville Rescue Mission.

“My first interaction with the Mission began through a couple who was new to our church,” said Gina. “Sherry and Bruce had been volunteering at the Mission for years. They were leading a chapel service for the women staying at the Mission and asked if anyone would be interested in doing something with the kids at the same time, allowing the mothers to engage in the service and not worry about their kids being disruptive.”

Gina and her friend Jackie stepped up to the challenge. Both had experience working in children’s ministry and committed to coordinate activities for the kids. Over time, their efforts would extend beyond this area, adding male volunteers as role models, creating a Bible study for teenagers, and hosting an annual Mother’s Day dinner for the women.

“In the beginning, our team of volunteers consisted of kids from our youth group, along with parents, and others from various churches in our community,” said Gina. “And even though the group volunteering has changed over those 12 years, we’ve remained faithful to the calling God has given us to serve the children.”

“Having all the kids together in one group was especially challenging. We had kids ranging in age from 5 to 17 within a group of 40 to 50 kids. God put it on my heart to start a Bible study for the teenagers. So, we recruited more volunteers who allowed us to split the groups into two.”

“Initially I thought the teens would balk at having a Bible study, but they have surprised me. It’s obvious many of them enjoy our time together, and I’m thankful for that. I get so much from hearing them pray. Hearing words of praise and thanksgiving from a teenager in the midst of such a difficult situation, it does something to me. I know God has bonded our hearts in a way that is supernatural. It’s overwhelming.”

Seeing the value of male role models, Gina started bringing her husband about seven years ago. She has two grown sons who come when they are available, along with other men from the church community. “I think it’s important to have men involved so the children can see a man who is willing to rely on God, and pray to Him. It sets a good example for them to follow.”

With a heavy burden for the mothers who are trying to parent in a shelter environment, Gina also had a strong desire to do something special for them, leading her to start an annual Mother’s Day dinner. “We come to serve the moms, to love them, encourage them, affirm them, and pray for them. It’s amazing to see their response when they realize we are there because we love Christ, and we love them.”

When asked why she continues to volunteer after all these years, Gina replied, “It’s not about the other volunteers or me. We are the instruments, and we try to yield to the burden the Lord has given us to care for the kids. It’s not just about bringing crafts and games for the kids. It’s about standing on the truth of God’s word. We want to hold up Christ to them—Christ, and Christ alone. There’s nothing else we could offer them that would make an eternal difference.”

Want to volunteer like Gina? Sign up here.

A Brand New Start

A Brand New Start

Abused from an early age, Natasha describes her childhood as a place filled with darkness. “I had no direction, no self-worth, and no boundaries. I was lost.”

When I got pregnant at 14, I was pressured by the principal and teachers to drop out. Natasha married her boyfriend shortly after their daughter Alexis was born, and they struggled to make ends meet.

“When we discovered I was pregnant again, we made a difficult decision to give our son up for adoption. We knew we couldn’t give him the kind of life he deserved.”

Within two years, Natasha was divorced, raising her daughter on her own, and battling an addiction to drugs.

“I never touched drugs until I was 18. But once I did, I spent the next three years battling an addiction that nearly killed me.”

Natasha made an effort to get sober when she was 21. That lasted a little over two years, during which time she had a good job and gave birth to another son. But her sobriety was short-lived, and when she relapsed again, she lost everything.

“My addiction led me to prison. My son went to live with his father. And I relinquished custody of my daughter to my mom.”

At first, things were manageable, but when her mom died from a heart attack while she was still in prison, Natasha was desperate to find someone she could trust to care for Alexis until her release.

“I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t want to make life for my daughter any more difficult than I already had. When Natasha was released on probation, she worked with DCS (Department of Children’s Services) to find a new placement for her daughter.

She knew it was going to take some time before she could regain custody, but in the meantime, she was determined her daughter would be in a healthy setting.

“God is my provider,” said Natasha. “My daughter is safe and secure in a new fostering situation.”

When Natasha looks back, she can’t believe all she has survived. “I’ve been suicidal and overdosed on numerous occasions. I’ve been beaten, was unconscious for two months, and last May almost died two different times. God snatched me up out of that. He is real, and He changed me. I’m not the person I was. I am thankful and excited about the future.”

Natasha is looking forward to reuniting with her daughter very soon.“I want to be a godly woman and mother. I want to give my daughter the things I never had, and I know it starts with putting God first. I’ve learned this and so much more in the Mission’s Life Recovery Program. I felt alone for so long. I didn’t realize all I needed was God. With Him, anything is possible. Mother’s Day is going to be extra-special this year, because it looks like Alexis will be here with me to share it. I am so thankful.”

If you want to help other women like Natasha, click here.