A Neighborhood Blessing
story by James Buck
Purple doors brought them all together.
When Sherry Golightly retired, she didn't want to spend her days playing golf. She wanted to help people. When an old church in the Littleville neighborhood of Paducah went up for auction, she drove by and saw that the doors were purple, her favorite color.
"If I believed in signs, this would be a sign," she says.
She bought the old church and created the John Wesley Neighborhood Center. She began holding Bible study nights and walking around the neighborhood asking people what they wanted, what they needed.
Slowly the neighbors began to come and open their hearts to what Sherry was offering. One group she welcomed was the Paducah chapter of Bikers for Christ, a motorcycle ministry. For one man in particular, what came next changed his life.
Tim Walls, 57, who lives across the street from the center, had struggled for many years with drinking and the alienation it brought. In July he stayed sober one night and made it to a Bikers for Christ meeting.
"The first time I walked into that building I had a feeling come over me," he says. "I think it was true unconditional love."
On August 8, Tim had his last drink.
Tim's family took note of the change in him. "All of a sudden I've got kinsfolk wanting to be around me," he says.
In early October, Tim's father passed away. "He held my hand and said 'I love you,'" Tim says. "That would have never happened if I hadn't been sober."
Tim's niece now brings his 3-year-old great-nephew over to spend days with him. "This is one of the many blessings that I've received," Tim says.
Bikers for Christ continues to meet and neighbors congregate in the space that Sherry created. There are Bible studies, music nights and meals to share among friends old and new.
"People are so interesting and talented," Sherry says. She envisions services like job training and financial planning. "I'm playing by ear to see how I can help," she says.
Tim testifies to the help she's already given. "I thank God Sherry bought this place," he says. "It changed my life."