Gary and Cassie Chapman – Mission in My Words
My first experience with the Nashville Rescue Mission took place many years ago when it was located on 8th Avenue. I wasn’t too excited about visiting a part of town that was considered rough in those days. But I knew in my heart it was the “right” thing to do. I had performed in jails and prisons singing in front of some difficult audiences. I felt like those experiences were more than enough preparation for this event.
I won’t lie. It was a tough crowd that night. Most of the men seemed sad, lost and hopeless. I didn’t feel like I was getting through to them or making a difference. I suppose that’s why it wasn’t until years later I returned to the Mission.
My wife Cassie and I went with a group from church to sing and serve at their Friday Night Coffee House. This time, the experience was different—as different as night and day. The men we encountered were hopeful. They sang along. They clapped. They laughed. They cried. It was a life-changing experience for us.
“The Nashville Rescue Mission is a much brighter place than you would expect it to be. It is filled with hope.”
We went with the idea of giving back to these individuals who were lost, alone, afraid and hopeless. Instead, we received more blessings than I can describe. These men had incredible attitudes. They were grateful. They were happy. They were hopeful. It was obvious these men had come to a place where they appreciated the good things in their life. We were overwhelmed by their kindness.
On our way home, Cassie turned to me and said, “Wow…that was amazing, but so humbling. There are many times when I sit at home and complain about some of the things in my life, but I don’t need anything. I’m so blessed. Here these guys are, in many cases having lost everything, yet they are joyful. I cannot tell you how much that inspires me.”
There’s no doubt in my mind we will be making regular trips to the Nashville Rescue Mission. The stories we heard were nothing short of amazing. One young man shared with us his struggle with addiction. He’d lost everything. But with the help of the Mission he was looking forward to a fresh, new start. He wanted to go to college, get a degree and find a job. He was filled with hope.
I wish there was some way I could help someone who has never volunteered at the Mission to actually “feel” this experience. Words don’t do it justice. All I can say is if you haven’t been there, you need to go, serve and experience it for yourself. It will change your life.
Few music veterans boast a more accomplished resume than Gary Chapman. The Texas native has spent time as a singer, songwriter, musician, producer, director, TV host, record company chief and entrepreneur. He won a Dove Award for male vocalist of the year; had songs recorded by Alabama and Wynonna; and spent four years hosting “Prime Time Country.” Today, Gary and his wife Cassie are focused on a new project “A Hymn A Week” in honor of his mom and dad.