The Good Samaritan Health Center of Gwinnett opened the doors of its new facility at 7:30 AM, Monday, July 25, 2016. That day marked the end of a four year journey that involved countless newsletters, countless emails, countless phone calls, thousands of handshakes, hundreds of coffee conversations, hundreds of tours and presentations, hundreds of hundreds of proposals, and finally, dozens of dozens of generous donors coming to the table with a financial gift.
The journey was not without its challenges.
Twice we found reason to revise our plans and reset our goals.
Twice I had to encourage my staff and reassure them that in spite of a downsized vision, we were going to have a new clinic one day.
Twice (many more than that, to be honest) I had to convince myself we were really going to pull off on a meaningful scale what we had set out to do – provide more charitable healthcare to the poor and uninsured and launch a charitable dental practice within our clinic. I recall a newsletter I penned about a year ago in which I compared myself to Sisyphus, weary and struggling to roll a boulder up a steep hill. The newsletter was optimistic but for the author, it was truly a low point. We had six months remaining in our campaign and were more than $2 million short of our goal. I was bracing for defeat, expecting to lose my footing and to be rolled over by the boulder.
When our doors opened that Monday almost six weeks ago, I greeted our first patient, a woman. We had our picture taken and then I turned my attention to greeting other patients and guests who had come to celebrate with us. It wasn’t until a few days later when I began to review photographs of the opening ceremony that I noticed the woman’s shirt. It bore the phrase, Don’t Ever Quit. I read that phrase as though it were a personal message delivered to me. Don’t Ever Quit. Don’t. Ever. Quit. My eyes fixed on those three simple words and quickly I knew exactly who was speaking to me and what was being.
Don’t ever quit. Don’t ever give up. Don’t doubt my ways. I have a plan for you and I will see it through. I will finish what I start. I am with you in this. Just trust me and in time, you will see.
The photograph of this woman and me is no longer about an opening day ceremony. Instead, it is a reminder that our God does indeed work out all things for good to those who love him. We only have to be patient and trust in his timing. Oh how many of us have suffered and shorted ourselves for our impatience and quitting! What am I saying here? Yes, we finally opened our new clinic. Yes, it includes a dental practice. Yes, we are serving more than one-hundred people some days. But the founding principle of this clinic was not to serve as many patients as possible. Rather, the founding principle of this clinic was to give glory to God through our caring for the sick and poor.
What I am saying here is this: Thanks be to God, for he never quits on us. He never gives up on us. He never stops loving us. He never stops perfecting us. He never stops drawing us near to him. Thanks be to God! Thanks be to God for our freedom to shout out his name! Thanks be to God for using you, our staff and volunteers, and me in a manner that touches so many lives in our community. Thanks be to God for bringing us together around this ministry! Thanks be to God! Don’t ever quit giving thanks to God, for he is good to each and every one of us! AMEN