One of the great ironies for me of being at the Haven of rest is that we both came into being the same year. As I was being born, the Haven was also being birthed into existence. We grew up in different states together and finally met for the first time on the last day of November in 2015.
I knew very little about the Haven when I came to work; only that I would be working in donor development and one of my tasks would be telling the public and our regular donors stories of the homeless and hungry men, women, and children who come to the Haven for shelter and food. This meant I would be in close personal contact with the residents and would get to hear their stories firsthand.
As I went about what I originally saw as a task, I began to realize it was really a rare privilege to be involved in a ministry such as this. Having the residents honestly share their life experiences, their hurts, disappointments, weaknesses, joys, and goals, was changing how I thought about them. It made me appreciate the beauty of God's creation in every individual, the common struggles we share in one extreme or another, and the staggering magnitude of God's grace.
Like most people, I had only a very limited understanding of the causes of homelessness, or the the struggles of those who find themselves dealing with this issue. As my understanding increased, so did my desire to love and minister to these precious people who are fighting circumstances that are beyond their abilities to cope with alone.
In January of 2017, I confided in then director of the Haven, Dr. Dwayne Baird, that I felt God's calling on my life to be in direct vocational ministry to our residents. I wanted to devote myself to making sure they heard and could respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they were provided every opportunity to reach their God given potential in life. A month later, through God's grace and Dr. Baird's understanding, I became the Director of Ministry Services. I felt that God had done an amazing work to allow me the opportunity to be involved in His Kingdom work, but little did I know, He wasn't done.
In mid-April, Dr. Baird tendered his resignation to the Board of Directors due to medical reasons, effective on the 28th of the month. The staff and I were stunned. Dr. Baird was my boss, my pastor, and a close personal friend. It was an intensely difficult and emotional moment as I contemplated him no longer being at the Haven and his impending move to Alabama to be close to family. As the dust settled, he asked me if I was interested in replacing him as the director of the Mission.
I had often thought about how challenging, and yet rewarding, leading the Mission might be. I was also aware of the emotional toll it was capable of extracting as well. I began to pray and seek God's will, along with the counsel of my family and fellow employees. After serious deliberation, I submitted a resume' and became acting Executive Director on April 28, 2017, while the Board of Directors evaluated other resume's and my performance. On August 1, 2017 I was officially named the Executive Director of the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission of Bristol.
All of the foregoing brings me to reflect on how blessed I am to be entrusted with the stewardship of a ministry like the Haven, how incredible it is to be partners in ministry with an amazingly gifted, Christian staff, one of the most dedicated and generous group of donors in existence, and superlative volunteers. I am grateful, that God in His mercy and grace has granted me the privilege of learning what it is I want to be when I grow up. I feel like He had me in mind for the Haven from the day I was born. (Please don't tell me any different; I'm on a roll here.)
So, what is The Road Ahead? I believe God has commissioned all of us to a great work through the Haven. If we remain faithful in our devotion, service, and giving to Him, we will see many men, women and children coming to Christ. We will see a generation of homeless persons become self-supporting, relationships restored, addictions conquered, and the path of future generations set on a godly trajectory.
I am excited! I am optimistic! I am praising God!
The Road Ahead is waiting. Let's anticipate what God is doing and be found doing good for the widow, the fatherless, the homeless, and the poor when Christ returns.
Before becoming Executive Director of the Haven of Rest, Brian Plank worked as a manager in country clubs, small businesses, and retail sales. He has been a salesman in various capacities, and to relax he was a motorcycle road racer. At his church he is an elder, Sunday School teacher, and worship leader. He is married to Denise who ministers to their community as a Registered Nurse.