I never fully understood the concept of “the hands and feet of Jesus” until this past year. I heard the phrase when we took a paper angel off a tree at church and bought a few Christmas gifts for a child in need. Or I heard it when we sent money overseas to help part of a village have clear drinking water for a month. But this year, I met a group of people who were, quite literally, using their hands, feet, bodies, minds, time, and resources to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth. And the funny thing is, they never said it – they just did it – these are ordinary people doing extraordinary things that are so powerful that I have literally wept about it.
The organization is called Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHNTX.org) and it’s a nonprofit that was born when a carpenter and a widow got together and decided to use their gifts to help others. The carpenter is Mike Sherrill who has a heart for animal rescue, baseball, widows, and the elderly. The widow is Michelle Stiles who lost her husband to cancer and was left with an elementary age son and a middle school daughter a decade ago. Baseball brought the two together. When Michelle’s son was not chosen for a baseball team in the so-called “coach look” in a local recreational baseball league, Coach Mike took him – Mike took all the kids who were not “chosen” as he had done for years—a carpenter who chose the ones who weren’t chosen.
Mike was able to teach Michelle’s son the game of baseball, but, more importantly, he was a positive male role model in this young man’s life – this coach/player relationship continued for many years and made a huge difference in the life of this young man. Mike and Michelle began to partner during service projects with the baseball team early on and formed Neighbors Helping Neighbors on December 31, 2019, right before Covid hit. During Covid, Mike and Michelle focused on outdoor projects for health care workers in addition to their work for widows and the elderly. When they knew there was a need, they went to help. They used the Covid time to make a difference—using a time of trial to make something good.
And then, there was another baseball game when I sat in the stands watching my son his freshman year of high school and happened to meet Michelle whose son went to the same high school. Baseball is a great sport to watch because it allows for relationships to happen on the field and in the stands. The pace of baseball is not incredibly fast and games last a long time. During that game, Michelle told me about Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and I told her about HOPE Farm. In the last two years, Mike and Michelle have done incredible work with our HOPE Farm families. They have made houses safer, landscaped, repaired, donated, painted, roofed, replaced, and built relationships with our single moms who have benefited from their incredible hearts. They have shown me and our moms what it truly means to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth.
I am in awe of how God works and how nothing is a coincidence. I am blown away by how God uses ordinary people to do things that make a huge impact in our world. It’s one thing to read in the Bible about how Jesus used the ordinary to create the extraordinary, but it’s another thing to witness it firsthand in our very broken world today. Matthew 16:24-25.