Is my brother my keeper?

August 2, 2011

For the better part of 20 years, I have been associated with Shiloh Baptist Church, located in McLean, Va.  The Lord has used this church to minister to me and help me develop my relationship with Him.  This church has also supported me in ways that are more “tangible.” 

They assisted me financially while I was in college, and the church has been there for my family while my mother is fighting pancreatic cancer.  The leadership and membership of Shiloh does a wonderful job in practicing what the pastor preaches.  The pastor in this case is Dr. Robert Cheeks, Jr., a 38-year old Maryland native who became Shiloh’s senior pastor in 2007. 

Church membership has boomed as a direct result of Pastor Cheeks’s energetic and personal approach to the Word.  After a brief period away from Shiloh, I rejoined the church in 2008, along with my then-fiance Alicia.

Since that time, Pastor Cheeks and I have developed a great relationship.  I look up to him, not just as a Man of God, and my pastor, but also as an older brother.  We both like to crack jokes…he being a former comedian definitely is very funny.  We like movies, sports, and share a love for the Lord. 

So two weeks ago, when Pastor Cheeks saw that his “little brother” needed help, he stepped up by offering me a part-time/temporary position as an “administrative assistant” with Shiloh.  I was concerned at first that he “whipped up” a position for me out of thin air, something that I would not want in fairness to others at the church.  However, he assured me this position has been in the works for awhile. 

I work 15 hours a week (the job is temporary), helping the church with clerical tasks and other duties.  Currently I am working on updating our membership database.  Last week, he assigned me the task of writing an invitation letter for a workshop to be held at the church.  I answer phone calls, and work on anything else that the pastor sees fit.  I have also had the opportunity to put my “Hill Experience” to good use.  I suggested an idea to the pastor based on something that I worked on with the committee, that I felt could benefit the church, which he has encouraged me to work on.

Despite the generosity of the church, I am still looking for full-time work.  However I feel that the work I do for the church is as — if not more — important than the work I did for the House.  The church has provided me with an opportunity to feel and be useful, think beyond self, and put me in an environment to where I can reflect on the very faith that will sustain me (in addition to paying me).  All I can say is “thank you” Shiloh, and “thank you” my friend, brother and pastor…Pastor Cheeks.

Marc Johnson, a 36-year-old former Hill staffer from Ashburn, Va., has been unemployed for six months. Read more about him here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.

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