I first met Michael C. Blackwell during a home visit from college in the spring of 1974. Carthage is my hometown, and my family lived within walking distance of First Baptist Church. That weekend, I attended worship and heard Dr. Blackwell preach. Wow! His voice was amazing and so was his message! During lunch with my parents, I remember asking, “How in the world did our church manage to get such a great speaker?”
Carthage is a small town, and Dr. Blackwell’s calling there was his first role as a senior pastor. His talents and skills were great; I assumed he wouldn’t be there very long. However, during his six-year tenure he became good friends with many in the community, church members and my parents. He performed the wedding ceremony for my husband and me in September, 1977. We lost touch with him after he was called to serve as pastor at Monument Heights Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia in the fall of 1980.
Now, fast forward to 2004. Dr. Blackwell surprised me one day at my previous place of employment. I was so excited to see him, and after catching up on family news he mentioned that Baptist Children’s Homes (BCH) was establishing a new Human Resources (HR) department and would need help creating a blueprint to complete the task. Human Resources is my career niche, and I responded that I would be glad to assist with the project.
Shortly afterward, Jennie Counts, BCH’s Director of Presidential Projects, spoke to me at a church event and asked if we could meet to discuss the HR initiative. We had lunch and she asked for my assistance. I readily accepted and we worked for months on the project, meeting frequently with Dr. Blackwell for his guidance. As we neared completion, I realized that working with Jennie, Dr. Blackwell and many other inspirational, mission-minded BCH staff members was an awesome opportunity to serve God and help hurting people in North Carolina. I applied for the director’s job, was hired, and began on July 1, 2005.
The HR department has expanded in numbers and responsibilities since its inception. The knowledge and expertise I’ve gained by working for Dr. Blackwell has been invaluable.
What I have learned has also taught me essential life lessons –– especially the importance of acknowledging and supporting everyone personally –– to be mindful of their feelings. Dr. Blackwell lives this example by affirming and encouraging people daily. He is intentional in helping to make us all feel valued and a part of BCH’s mission. He sends handwritten cards, notes, emails, phone calls, and often makes personal visits to deliver his spiritual gift of love and encouragement.
Most recently, Dr. Blackwell surprised my mother at her 95th birthday party. It was a tender moment to see them holding hands as former pastor and church member. God weaves people together for His purpose, and I thank Him for the blessing and honor to serve BCH.
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