Ministry to the Marginalized: Following in Jesus’s Footsteps

July 26, 2021

by Cheri Dale

When Rick and I arrived at The Recovery Ranch a bit before noon today, a Horry County Code Enforcement officer was there along with two Horry County police officers. Christa Reynolds, the woman who started The Recovery Ranch explained that only four buildings at The Recovery Ranch were up to code. Any person living in a non-compliant trailer had to be relocated. Horry County was not involved in helping to relocate.

Rick and I, who represent Safe Haven Counseling Associates, volunteer at The Recovery Ranch. We are there for the Monday noon meeting, Rick facilitates a Wednesday AA/NA meeting and on Fridays we provide, free of charge, biblical counseling. Rick facilitates another AA/NA in the evening.

At the Monday AA/ALANON meeting, Rick and I supply hospitality and participate in the meetings. This is a meeting started and run by the South Carolina Depart of Mental Health. Mike Desire is employed by SCDMH to work with the residents of The Recovery Ranch, get them reassessed (re-diagnosed and appropriate medications proscribed), and provide licensed counseling for them. Safe Haven provides the same type of re-assessments as SCDMH, supporting the work that Mike does and facilitating the Monday meeting when he is not available. The State of South Carolina cares about the residents of The Recovery Ranch.

Just imagine the level of anxiety at this particular noontime meeting. Residents were already being relocated to various places by Mrs. Reynolds. There were so many questions about who could stay, who had to go. People asked, “Will I have a place to sleep tonight?” “Is the electricity going to be shut off?” “If we don’t have electricity how will the water pump work?” People who finally had a home and a chance at recovery at The Recovery Ranch were faced with losing everything.

Jesus Christ has much to say about the marginalized, those who are abandoned by their communities. Sometimes they are abandoned because they are mentally ill (possessed by demons), sometimes because they are addicts and co-addicts, sometimes  because they are blind, lame, or ostracized because they have betrayed their community (tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards, gamblers, etc). Think about Jesus. How did He treat the marginalized?

He hung out with them. He healed them. He met their physical and spiritual hunger. For example:

  • In the context of having called Levi, the tax collector, to follow Him, the Pharisees criticized Jesus. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17).” When called, Levi got up and followed him. Remember Zacchaeus, another tax collector? What was his response when Jesus invited himself and his disciples to dinner at Zacchaeus home? Zacchaeus repented and was saved.
  • Women were consider second class citizens at best in the biblical world and sometimes as mere slaves. Yet Jesus’s ministry included women. “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,  and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out;  Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others.” The women were helping to support them out of their own means. Not only were these women, at least one had been delivered of seven demons! And Christ accepted their money in support of His ministry.
  • Jesus dined with lepers, the pariahs of the biblical world. Mark 14:3 “While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.”
  • Jesus healed lepers. Matthew 8:1-3: “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” He even touched a leper.
  • Jesus even healed Samaritans. Luke 17:11–16: “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us! When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.” Jesus went to the unsaved.
  • The first four disciples Jesus called to follow Him were uneducated fishermen, Simon and Andrew, James and John.

There are brothers and sisters in Christ among the residents of The Recovery Ranch. There are atheists and agnostics who might well be saved. How can we do any less than follow the example of our beautiful Lord and Savior Christ?


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