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How to Help Hopeless People

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Do what you are supposed to do

One day a young man, desperate for a job, took a job cleaning out trailer parks. He worked for a temp agency that was staffing a liquidation company. As part of his cleaning duties, he found a CD in the trash.

The CD had a picture of a face on the front of it. And it intrigued this young man. At the time, the man had not been able to keep a job. He struggled with substance abuse and had other issues as well. But the album cover intrigued him, and the CD will still intact inside.

The young man listened to the CD. It affected him. He could not stop listening to the music. The songs convicted him so much that he decided to change his life. Eventually, the young man found out that the artist had a ministry in his area. He reached out to the artist and eventually began an internship with artist and his ministry.

The young man battled his addiction issues with the help of the artist and his team. The ministry even paid for a year-long intervention that would help this young man.

In short, he completely turned his life around — just because he found a thrown-away CD.

What Are You Supposed To Do?

Most people know when they are supposed to do something. And most people have some sense of what to do in any given situation. But sometimes people know what they are supposed to do, and then fail to actually do it. I know I have done this — probably too often.

Other times, people will wait for someone else to take the first step. Or maybe they will wait for someone to find a solution or solve a problem. I have done this too — again probably too much.

While we either delay doing what we are supposed to do, or wait for someone else to solve the problem we may be facing, we often focus on one thing only — us.

But there is so much more to life than just us.

The Source of the CD in the Trailer Park

When will we ever learn that there are no hopeless situations, only people who have grown hopeless about them?

— Charles Swindoll

I had a front row seat when my close friend Jerome Vierling was debating what to do in his music ministry. For years he tried to create a business from his music — he performed 500 shows in five years. That’s two a week, every week, for five years. But it was not working.

So he changed his model. He started a nonprofit and used his music as a ministry to young people. Not long after he took the leap, he had to make a decision: should he leave his job and pursue his ministry full-time? Could he raise enough money to print 20,000 CDs that he would give away for free? Could he leave his job and make an even bigger impact than just trying to sell CDs at concerts?

It was certainly a leap of faith. I remember it well.

But he did it. He found a way to turn a passion into a ministry that makes people want to drastically change their lives.

And the young man who found a CD in trailer park? It was my friend Jerome’s CD — one of the 20,000 that were printed and given away for free. Somehow one of the CD’s ended up in the trailer park — abandoned and nearly discarded.

Here is a picture of the album:

This is the cover of the CD that the young man found.

I know about this story because I was on the board of Jerome’s music ministry when we made the decision to print the CDs.

And I remember when the board approved spending the money to send him to a year-long rehab.

Years later, I learned more of the story. The most amazing part to me is this: the young man later told us that as he was working in and cleaning the trailer park, he was praying that something would help him — that someone would help him.

Jerome did something hard. He left a well-paying job. He raised enough money to start a ministry and create 20,000 CDs — all based on faith and hope.

And at the same time, someone else was praying for him to do it.

Picking Up Trash in Refugee Camps

Instruction does much, but encouragement everything.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Right after I graduated high school, I joined a group of young people who visited foreign refugee camps. The camps were unmistakable and unforgettable. No roads — only well-worn paths of dirt. No buildings — only pieced-together structures, built from whatever could be found in a desert.

The group was called Project Hope. We went to the camps to serve the people in them. We cleaned up trash and tried to improve the living conditions. But we also learned about dignity and the value of a human life.

As we cleaned one small block of the camp, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Did they want us here? Were we supposed to be here?”

I was amazed when I found out the answer.

A Simple Call

A reputation for one thousand years may depend upon the conduct of a single moment.”

— Ernest Bramah

Years ago, I met a woman at a conference who had incredible experience in music licensing. As an attorney who practices in entertainment and intellectual property, I immediately asked for her contact information, as my clients often need music licensing assistance.

A few years after our meeting, I received a call from a client asking me to help with a massive music licensing project. I knew I could do the work, but I immediately thought of this woman. She could help the client save a tremendous amount of money.

So I called her.

She didn’t answer, so I left a voicemail.

She did not follow up, so I reached out again. No answer.

A few weeks went by. I needed her expertise. I debated reaching out to another vendor, but for some reason I felt compelled to call her one more time.

No answer. I left another voicemail.

But minutes later, she called me back. She apologized for not getting back to me, with good reason. She had a serious health issue and could not return calls.

I asked if she could help me with the project. She became quiet for a moment before answering.

“I would love to help,” she said.

We discussed the services she could provide. It was a perfect fit. She had experience doing exactly what I needed. And she performed incredibly for our client.

At the end of the call, though, she said the words I will never forget:

She told me that her health scare had cost quite a bit of money, and her daughter was getting married. For weeks while she was recovering, she was praying for some new source of money to come into her life.

And then I called.

I was taken aback. I did not know how to respond, other than to thank her and end the call.

While I was debating whether to call her one last time, she was praying that someone would provide an opportunity.

Project Hope

Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple. But no one can count the number of apples in a seed.”

Thinking back to the refugee camp that I visited over 20 years ago, I cannot shake the question that dominated my mind as I picked up trash and cleaned dirt pathways meant to be streets.

“Did they want us here? Were we supposed to be here?”

Before we left the camp, I received an answer.

During the last day at the camp, a middle-aged man grabbed my arm. He stopped me and looked at me for a few moments before saying anything. His intensity frightened me initially. I will never forget what he said:

“I saw what you did here. We need help. When you leave, don’t forget about us. No one remembers us. No one cares about us. But you. We pray there are more people like you. You are our only hope.”

As he said those words, the name of our group that visited the refugee camps echoed in my mind: Project Hope.

Even if you don’t believe in prayer, people are still praying.

Even if you don’t think your actions matter, people are still hoping that someone will extend a hand to help.

I am not a prophet. I can’t see the future. And without knowing more about a specific situation, I cannot tell you what you should do.

But I can tell you this: whatever you are supposed to do, I guarantee that there is at least one person hoping for you to do it.

John Mashni
John Mashni Author

I only write about what I have done: no theory. Writer, Attorney, Entrepreneur, Movie Producer, and more… 

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