by Jimmy Cochran, Director of Team Operations
Have you ever had that one piece of a puzzle that you believe, without a shadow of a doubt, goes in a specific spot, but it doesn’t quite fit right? You smash it with a closed fist or push REALLY hard to get it in place, and even though it does not truly fit, in your mind it is a success! Or maybe you remember attending your first corporate business meeting and you failed to realize it was not business casual? Lastly, when your boss goes on a well-deserved extended leave of absence and puts you in charge of the entire company, in a year where nothing has gone the way it supposed to, and you are expected to keep the boat afloat. AWKWARD!!!
2020 has been a lot of things, most of which I would rather soon forget, and as the Director of Team Operations, I had to navigate a world where teams were not operating. Depressing to say the least. In addition, while Frank was on sabbatical, I became the “Acting Director.” I was out of my comfort zone for sure, a fish out of water, a square-ish peg trying to fit in a round-ish hole, or whatever metaphor you like.
This was going to be the ultimate test. Not only would it be a new experience for me, but also one where I was unable to contact Frank for help. For example, if I were in a new situation or an issue presented itself that required some words of wisdom, I would reach out and he always knew what I needed to hear. However, there were also times where the responses fell silent, at which point I knew he wanted me to figure it out on my own. Afterwards, letting me know as much and saying either “Well done grasshopper!” or “You have much to learn grasshopper!” The Lord surrounded me with godly advice and others who brought much wisdom, but knowing that go-t- guy who had been through everything I was about to go through, his counsel or even the occasional constructive rebuke were not going to be available left me out of sorts.
During Frank’s leave, we put on our first ever Virtual Saints Celebration Event, saw a critical change in staff, experienced grief within the Saints family, grappled with health issues with our families, enjoyed three holiday seasons and finished the year in the grasp of The Almighty! I attended my first board meeting, grew closer to my friends on staff, gained more understanding of the workings behind the scenes and felt His presence throughout. With all of that said, craziness and all, I have never been more at peace. Yes, I felt out of place but know that in the end God was walking alongside me every step of the way and He deserves all the praise, honor and glory.
2020 saw the Saints Prison Ministry endure trials, tribulations and uncertainty but the Lord not only brought us through and sustained us, but He also increased our faith, endurance and perseverance along the way! As always, I look forward to seeing how He continues to guide the ministry into 2021 and the years to come. I leave you with a passage that has filled my soul with strength and most of all…hope!
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5