by: Kerri Gailey
After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Confession time: I almost didn’t go to the LOT Project tonight. I had a pretty busy day, my youngest daughter had homework, and I really needed to work on writing...for this blog. But as He often does, God laughed at my plans.
One of my coworkers had cleaned out his closet and had clothes for me to donate, so I decided to just drop the clothes off, make my apologies, go home and write. Then a former neighbor, whom I dearly miss, sent me a text wanting to know if I was going to be at the LOT. She and her adorable children were going to volunteer for the very first time, and she wanted to know if I’d be there. Well, of course I was going to be there! Again, He changed my plans. I’m certain it was God’s subtle way of reminding me that His ways are better than mine, and that what I’d planned on writing wasn’t what needed to be written.
When I got to the LOT, it appeared that Jean was having a little difficulty in assigning the jobs. Every time she decided where to put a volunteer to work, God told her differently. I wasn’t the only one God was laughing at.
It seemed that God was thinking I should serve food with Lisa “The Hammer” Peer from New Jersey.
“The Hammer” might sound like a strange nickname for this woman with a smile and heart as big as her accent, until you find out what she does for a living. She’s a parole officer. At work, she’s known to be tough but fair. That, along with the Jersey in her voice, earned her the title.
Her husband is a corrections officer in a maximum security prison. He tells her that she better do a good job or her charges will end up with him. It may be a joke at home, but at work, it’s a life’s calling for Lisa. She’s got a high success rate with her guys, and she’s quick to give God the glory for them not returning to jail.
I was intrigued by her choice of profession. I just can’t imagine many kids saying, “you know what? I want to be a parole officer when I grow up.” So I had to ask her if it was her line of work that brought her to volunteer at the LOT Project. Her answer was quite the opposite of what I expected. It was years of volunteering in homeless ministries that led to her to make a difference in the lives of parolees.
When Lisa was younger, being a parole officer wasn’t what she envisioned for herself at all. She actually started out as a teacher, and then became a Children’s Advocate for DSS. It was during this time that she got involved volunteering with a homeless ministry in New York that gave out clothing.
One night while volunteering there, she was helping a lady find a pair of shoes. She searched the back, and apologetically came back with a pair of shoes that were a half size too big. The lady was thrilled to have them anyway. It was this moment that Lisa looked down and realized the woman had come in wearing only socks. She had no shoes at all.
Lisa described her next move as a “God thing”. Instead of just handing her the pair of shoes, as she would’ve ordinarily done, she felt led to kneel down and put the shoes on the woman’s feet. Sound reminiscent of anyone?
After that the woman hugged and kissed her. It was so overwhelming to Lisa that she had to walk out. God had used her in that moment to emulate His Son kneeling to wash His disciple’s feet. He led her to “be Jesus” to the shoeless woman. From that moment on, she knew that for her life to mean something, it had to be about service to others.
That is the reason she serves parolees, and shows them the hope of Jesus and how he can change their lives. Over the years, no matter where she’s lived, Lisa has found a homeless ministry in which to serve. That is the reason she sought out the LOT Project when her own church’s homeless ministry closed. There was a hole left in her heart that only service to those forgotten and avoided could fill.
After talking with Lisa while we served, I was reminded of something Andy likes to tell the volunteers before guests arrive. The LOT Project is a place to meet Jesus. I realized that by changing my plans, God had introduced me to my next blog post. I saw Jesus tonight in Lisa “The Hammer”.
Jesus may not always look how we thought He would. He may not have any teeth, he may not be very clean, or he may be a short lady with an infectious smile and a Jersey accent. No matter how He looks, I promise you, you’ll find Him at the LOT.