I own God Body Gym in Memphis. One day, I found a young homeless man asleep in my car behind our building. I didn’t know at the time that God’s plan would be for me to mentor that young man, and my gym would become his home for the last nine months…and counting. And it’s clear that God was preparing me for this for almost a decade.
About ten years ago, God got my attention. I owned a small company but I was getting into a little trouble, doing some things that weren’t right. My company experienced some turmoil, and I turned to God for the first time in a while. I had fallen away from my faith, but I knew I needed to return to Him now. So I asked God what I needed to change or stop doing. And He clearly gave me an answer to go down a very different road in my life.
So I obeyed, but I didn’t know what road He wanted me to travel. As I was praying and asking Him what I should do, I got a message that He wanted me to go to cooking school.
I thought, “Really?”
A lot of things in life don’t make sense when you first hear it or see it, but it does make sense in the long run.
So I went, and became a personal chef. I guess I was pretty good at making food because I started to gain a lot of weight myself! I didn’t like how I looked, so I began focusing on my personal life and my food choices. I also started working out. I lost a lot of weight, and people noticed. Some asked if they could join me in my workouts. So we’d work out together in the park. And then I bought a small area in a gym so we could train.
And when the rest of that building became available, I purchased it and started God Body Gym. It’s not just a workout facility. I help people with their food choices. I help people evolve into the body that they’re supposed to have. It’s probably 80% diet and food, and 20% workout.
A lot of my clients initially come to me quite discouraged. I tell them that what you did in the past is what put you here. Look ahead and don’t get down on yourself about your past. Focus on what you can do.
One day, a client of mine said that someone may be out on my property. I own a bit of land behind my gym, and I had a car back there. I went out and saw a young, homeless guy sleeping in my car. I knocked on the window.
“Is this your car? No! You can’t sleep here, I could get you arrested for trespassing and breaking and entering. This is my vehicle.”
I asked him to leave and he did, but he was back in my car the next morning. And the next. Each time I’d ask him to leave. Finally, as I was headed out there for yet another time, I heard God tell me to take a different approach.
I initially fought off that message. My flesh didn’t want to have anything to do with this young man. I had too much going on and getting involved would add a lot of things onto my plate.
But I listened to God’s nudge. I made him a cup of coffee and went out there. I started talking to him to try to get to know him.
His name was Brian. I asked how he got in this position. He told me his father was killed when he was very young, and his mom got totally worn down by all the trouble he was getting into. I asked him if he wanted a job to get himself back on his feet. He said yes, so I asked him to come around to the front of my building at a certain time later that day.
He showed up several hours late. He asked about the job, and I told him that the job was closed because he didn’t show up on time. I wanted to teach him a lesson. I said you’re going to have opportunities you need to jump on, and stay away from making bad choices.
I found myself mentoring Brian. That’s how our journey began.
I told him that I’m going to give you a ladder to climb out of his hole but that I wasn’t going to jump into that proverbial hole with him–that could put me in a bad position. But I’d provide him with a ladder and he had to learn to climb out of that hole himself.
I noticed he wasn’t wearing socks. I had recently cleaned out a bunch of clothes from the gym so I handed him the bag, told him to go through it and keep whatever he wanted.
I took him to get an ID and to fill out some job applications. And I let him live in my gym on the couch and shower there for a while.
He got a job and his aunt came to get him after about a month. And took him to live with her. But a few weeks later, his aunt dropped him back with me. Apparently, he had gotten into some trouble during that time he lived with her. This was very disappointing to me. If you’re going to help someone, you can’t just help them when it’s convenient for you. You have to commit to helping that person in the good times as well as the bad.
So Brian was back with me. He’s now lived in my gym for nine months. I told him I’d give him one year.
I’m taking the opportunity to mentor and hopefully mold this young man into the man God wants him to be. I want to provide good motivation for him, something he’s never had. I tell him to look at how far God has brought me. I was getting into trouble, and God took me and made me into a totally different person. You have to let God lead you. Sometimes He’ll lead you to places you may not want to go. But you have to really listen to the Holy Spirit.
It’s been an up and down process with Brian, and it can be very frustrating. He’s had two jobs and he’s been fired from both of them. But I’m trying to be patient with him, and do my best to help change his life. I’m letting God work through me.
If I can help Brian, isn’t that what God would want me to do? It’s not going to hurt me to help someone to try to get better. And it may have an eternal impact on him.
I can now see why God sent me to cooking school, why I gained weight, why I got into working out, and why I got into training others on diet and exercise. And how that all led to meeting Brian. God’s plan is amazing.