April 29, 2020
A STORY OF HOPE AND LIFE RENEWAL FOR ONE, THEN FOR MANY
How Pastor B.J. Came to Bright Bridge Ministries
Diverting his gaze from his laptop where he devotes many hours each week to planning how to build relationships among the churches in the area, and with those who come to our ministries, Pastor B.J. Carpenter Jr. had a sincere light in his eyes. He considered for a moment how he came into his role as Assistant Director at Bright Bridge Ministries, and finally, he said, “It was really divinely orchestrated.” Pastor B.J. Carpenter Jr. has worked at Clear Springs United Methodist Church for nearly three years. This January, God led him to also serve at Bright Bridge Ministries, providing spiritual guidance and counseling to our program residents, leading Celebrate Recovery meetings for anyone dealing with hurt or addiction, and preaching at some of our church services.
Pastor B.J. first came to Bright Bridge in a search for ways churches could collectively serve Christ, and his congregation at Clear Springs could be reinvigorated in their discipleship. He reached out to Stanley Donaway, who has led our Food Ministry at Bright Bridge for almost five years, about getting the Clear Springs congregation involved in cooking and serving dinner at Bright Bridge, for Celebrate Recovery meetings on the first Friday night of each month. His consistent involvement with these meetings was noticed by our Pastor, Robin Noble, who decided to make Pastor B.J. part of our staff at Bright Bridge.
Building Relationships and Making Disciples of Christ
Having been delivered from drug and alcohol addiction himself, seven years ago, Pastor B.J. is passionate about bringing others who are dealing with similar problems out of the darkness and into the light. He says his life has been on a new trajectory for the past seven years; he says he had a real Exodus moment, and was set free from the chains of addiction, and he hopes others will experience the same thing. This hope has motivated him to serve in Celebrate Recovery groups in Niceville and Destin, and now he leads the Celebrate Recovery meetings we have on Friday nights at Bright Bridge. Successful renewal of his own life, with a fire in his heart for God, with hope and the desire to help others, shines through as an example of hope to those he counsels. Pastor B.J.’s attitude also aligns perfectly with our guiding principles of treating people with dignity, care, and acceptance, so they can shape their own lives, and ultimately inspire others to do the same.
Building relationships and making disciples of Christ are the main goals that Pastor B.J. has in his role at Bright Bridge. “There is no easy way, no formula,” Pastor B.J. says, “but it is non-negotiable to invest time in people’s lives.” Pastor B.J does whatever he can to build relationships with the people he counsels. He goes takes them to hockey games, and on fishing trips, and he brought them to a concert, where they handed out packs to aid hungry children around the world. One of the men he counsels, he brought to church to paint, and to build a relationship with him, and help bring him closer to God; that man recently became saved. When he invests time in people, and talks with them about God, Pastor B.J. can see a positive change happening in their lives.
When asked about the most rewarding part of his job, Pastor B.J. responded “Seeing people embrace the Lord; seeing those initial sparks of hope come into a person’s soul; seeing lives restored.” Through the spiritual counseling he provides, he can see the transformative effects of the Holy Spirit working in the people he counsels, and he sees people finding their purpose. Pastor B.J. passionately states, “There is nothing more powerful than when a man embraces God’s love.”
Bright Bridge as an Example of Methodist Principles
Reflecting on the three basic principles established by John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, Pastor B.J. lists the following: 1. Do no harm, 2. Do good, and 3. Stay in love with God. “This place is definitely doing a lot of good,” he says, “and it helps me stay in love with God.” He says that his role at Clear Springs has uniquely equipped him for this additional role at Bright Bridge, and that his work at Bright Bridge fuels him for his work at Clear Springs. While Pastor B.J. certainly sees this opportunity as Assistant Director at Bright Bridge Ministries as a blessing, his work is certainly a blessing to us, bringing our men closer to Christ, helping to build a transformative bridge to a brighter future for them.