We are continuing our blog series about 2nd Mile: Binghampton and Christ Church’s commitment to the community of 2nd Mile: Binghampton - SOSBinghampton, which is perhaps the most important facet of how we love Jesus by loving like Jesus in our city.

The series corresponds to each following weekend’s worship services, featuring the live testimonies of CUMC members who have been serving at these ministries. They will be sharing with us their stories of how they came to be involved, and they will tell us why these ministries are so valuable.

This Sunday, we will hear from Christ Church members David Harris and Emily Rachiele, who have both given of their time to serve at SOS over the years.

2nd Mile will enable the new program SOS Builds, which will help recruit involvement from the community of Binghampton into the overall life and work of SOS.

Christ Church member Abbye West Pates, for whom SOS has been an especially important part of her story of service in Memphis and through Christ Church, shares her story:

Jeff and Abbye Pates

Jeff and Abbye Pates

The reason I live in Memphis, the reason I live in Binghampton, and the reason I recognize the value of serving each other selflessly and working hard to build community, is because of my summer spent at SOS.

Almost 10 years ago, I came to Memphis just to spend the summer in a new city while coordinating volunteers for this urban home-repair ministry.

I couldn’t have known the ways this summer would set the course for my life.

Much is said about the impact SOS has on the lives of people who participate in the way it serves the community, and I definitely second much of that. For instance, the way it opened my eyes to considering those who lack the financial resources to repair their own homes or send their kids to the best schools; or those whose zip code determined the kind of friendships, education, and employment opportunities that they would be offered.

Before SOS, I’d never lived for 10 weeks in close quarters with 40 people–eating meals, singing songs, and working through conflict together; I’d rarely been in the homes of people whose lives didn’t look mostly like mine. I’d never seen this many people from churches come night after night to mop and sweep and clean dishes and, hopefully, have their eyes opened to the deeper needs within their own city.

Now, I live in a home (affectionately known as the Malcomb House) in Binghampton that welcomes neighbors who may cook different meals at holidays, go to less-than-optimal schools, and come from very different households than the one in which I grew up. But those same neighbors also like to play Scattergories and eat homemade pizza and have cookouts on Memorial Day.

As different as we are, we’re also alike in so many ways. We’re all looking for places where we can be known and accepted and safe. We’re all looking for our place in the world – often looking for our worth in the wrong places, and hopefully learning to find out worth in the God who became flesh to make a way for us to be at home in him.

Jeff and Abbye playing at the Malcomb House

Jeff and Abbye at the Malcomb House

Because of SOS, I know the value of learning to live alongside people who aren’t mostly like me. Because of SOS, I know the value of being present in the places that we are often told to stay away from, the people who are often considered lost causes, stuck in a life situation that is less than ideal, or even worthless.

Because of SOS, some of my dearest friends (family!) are those I worked on staff with that summer. And because of SOS, I came to be at Christ Church, helping connect our members to people in ministries throughout our city, in teaching English, tutoring children, serving lunches and, hopefully, further opening their eyes to the deeper needs within their own city.

The value of SOS’s ministry has been immense in my own life and in the lives of Memphis and of students who come from all over the country to participate in this great work. You can help in such a big way by supporting through 2nd Mile: Binghampton what SOS does for the kingdom of God among and alongside our neighbors in Binghampton.


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