At a friend’s invitation, Susan showed up at The Well Community Life Center one morning. She was curious about the ministry and wondered if The Well might help her deal bipolar disorder and the difficulties she has faced because of the illness, including homelessness and isolation.
Almost a decade later, Susan remains a faithful member of The Well. Over the years she’s served at various times as assistant/secretary to the staff, editor of The Well’s newsletter and assistant pastor during Thursday Night Life. At 65 years old, she’s often sought by younger, newer members for advice on everything from how to handle difficult relationships to where to find a bed at night.
“The Well taught me to be someone,” Susan says, “that I could be someone.” As a result, she tries to give back as much as she can. And she’s not alone. Susan is one of a number of members who love others well by filling gaps and trying to help meet practical needs.
Susan’s fiancé, Edison, drives a van to pick up members and bring them to The Well’s Community Life Center for activities every day. Susan and Edison also occasionally lead Bible studies together. The Well member Paul plays the piano and member John plays the drums during Thursday Night Life. Members have also been known to cut each other’s hair, invite their other friends to The Well and even give up their beds where they lodge.
Once, Susan’s close friend’s adult daughter had no place to live. Remembering her own experiences being homeless, Susan offered her own bed where she was living with several other women. “I put my faith and trust in God and moved into my car,” Susan explains. She knew the young woman wouldn’t be able to handle being homeless, so she took the daughter’s place instead.
“I knew what it was to be homeless,” says Susan. “I remember the struggling I did the first time I went out there—nobody trusting you. And you had to hang on to anything and everything you had for fear of losing it. People would take it in a heartbeat.” Eventually, Susan found a job that helped her get off the streets, but the memory still brings pain. “I give it all to the glory of God,” she says. “God was protecting me and kept me safe.”
Loving Them Well
How might you also show love and compassion to those struggling with severe mental illnesses? Your contributions of funds or time can make an enormous difference in the lives of Well members who daily face not only the challenges of mental illness but related issues like poverty, physical disabilities and loneliness. Consider donating or volunteering today to help the least served in Oak Cliff.