There is something I haven’t told you.
While we were in Yellowstone, my son Michael called me. His best friend, MJ, had been killed by a drunk driver. Michael and Allie were devastated. Along with MJ’s wife and so many others.
I only met MJ once – when he married Michael and Allie last June. Which happened to be on MJ’s 40th birthday. Even though I met him only one time, Michael mentioned MJ almost every time we talked. What are you doing this weekend? MJ this or MJ that. Michael and MJ met at work, AT&T, and became great friends.
As soon as Michael told me this tragic news, I wanted to be with my son. It was an overwhelming and strong desire. There was nothing I could do to fix this pain, to shorten the path through grief, but I could be with him.
However, it wasn’t time to go yet. Michael and Allie were spending time with MJ’s wife and helping her with the immediate tasks.
We knew our days were limited in Yellowstone, so we tried to make the best of them, even with our heavy hearts. But once the service was scheduled, we made our plans and headed to Dallas. I had to be with my son.
The service for MJ was held on a Sunday. Allie read the timeless passage from Scripture’s Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. You know the passage. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Michael gave a eulogy. He honored his friend with his tribute and his love. My heart was filled with sadness, but also filled with love and admiration for my son. To see the man that he has become is one of my life’s dearest treasures.
I noticed something else about Michael and Allie during these sad days. I saw their love for each other and how through this turbulent time, they leaned on each other.
They reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Romeo and Juliet Windmill sculpture in Taliesin. This windmill tower has two different shapes which support each other and actually grows stronger when the winds blow.
I learned more about MJ through his passing. I learned he focused on others, he was kind, funny and intelligent. He loved technology and sports. And I learned about a project he worked on at AT&T back in 2019.
“Our Calling” is a faith-based organization in Dallas which works to help the homeless in a number of ways. The organization has an app, named “OurCalling.” This app, initially developed for iPhone users, was meant to be a tool to assist those who were helping homeless people. A second version of the app was created for Android users, and this was when the app really took off.
According to Pastor Wayne Walker, founder of Our Calling, 70% of homeless people have a smart phone. The “OurCalling” app was a tool that they could use to find information on services for themselves. While the organization “Our Calling” is physically located in Dallas, use of the app quickly spread to other cities.
In 2019, OurCalling wanted to expand the app and allow it to be used nationally. Somehow, the Our Calling organization collaborated with AT&T to create a new version of the OurCalling app which could be used nationally. This is where MJ enters the picture.
MJ and his team worked to create the new version of OurCalling. The new version of the app was created in record time to great reviews. In March of this year, 140,000 people used the app to identify someone in need—every single day that month.
I rarely ask my readers to do anything. But today, I am asking you to honor a man, gone too soon, by spreading the word about the “OurCalling” app. Download it. Tell others about it. Use it. Keep the knowledge of it filed away in your brain for a time when needed. Inform the leaders in your church and/or community about this powerful resource.
I know our mayor here in St. Charles, Missouri is working on the issue of homelessness. I do not have any idea if the “OurCalling” app is used here. But, in order to spread the word, I have emailed the mayor.
Maybe a hungry person will get a meal. Maybe an addict will find a recovery program. Maybe a child will have some stability. Maybe someone will come in out of the cold. Maybe someone’s life will be a little better.
And maybe, knowing something good came out of all this tragedy, we can think of MJ and smile, knowing in some small way, we have honored his memory and his life.
For more information about the Our Calling organization, you can visit the website or listen to this interview of Wayne Walker, Director of Our Calling on this podcast episode from The Intelligent Community.