By Fred Comella
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Being a Christian in the 21st Century isn’t exactly as easy as some of us might believe. In fact, most Christians attending services weekly have the opportunity to enjoy fellowship with other like-minded Christians, but what of the rest of the week? How do we comport ourselves in our day to day lives when it comes to our Christian faith? There is a sign which stands at the exit of my church parking lot that reads, “You’re now entering your mission zone”.
Now that’s all well and good, as our Savior tells us to live and walk as He did. And we hear our pastors instruct us as well on spreading the Gospel, but what of our daily interactions and professions? Is there some secret code we must use to communicate “The Good News” when presented with the opportunity? And what does that opportunity actually look like? Will it be that awakening I’ve written about so often which many missionaries site as their call to service? Will we be too embarrassed to speak up? Well, I believe it’s something just a bit more subtle. And if we’re truly listening to His word, then our actions will just flow out as we walk life’s journey.
Now it may be that you use your faith to help someone who is in crisis of both mind and soul, and to whose ears it was entirely necessary and meant for you to speak of the saving grace of Christ. God can certainly make use of you in this regard if he desires that it be so. Or it could be something far less dramatic, such as a kind word or deed that you know in your Christian heart was just and right, and unintended of any benefit to you. Truth be told, it is this question of what I like to call “individual Christianity”, which gives me the most pause on my journey with the Lord.
It’s easy to be cynical when simply gazing upon the daily chaos here at home and abroad. It’s also easy to hunker down and wait a week so you can get back to church and feel that fellowship and sense of belonging once again. But that’s not how we roll as Christians, is it. He made us in His likeness, so we should mirror that likeness in all of its positive connotations whenever we can should we not? Whether it be Psalm 23 to the dying at the hospital you volunteer at, or just a caring word of support to a single mom who you know is struggling, the image of Christ should be part of who we are. Let’s face it folks, we can all probably think of a half dozen instances or more a week, where we may consciously or unconsciously interject on Jesus’s behalf. It’s just how we see things. If we spent as much time walking as God would have us as we do trying to avoid being who we know we are, the world would certainly be a better place.
John Nagle of “Clean Slate Estate” and “J&D Landscaping” has a heart for Christ when it comes to his fellow man in crisis and he lets it show by just living that heart for Christ. John, local businessman, husband and father, came to Christ by way of his mother when he was just 14, and thus he’s come to embody that balance of Christian responsibility and everyday life many of us seek but have yet to find. More specifically, the sometimes challenging aspect of being a Christian business owner in a modern and increasingly secular world, presents challenges nonbelievers can simply turn from, but not John. I had occasion to speak with John recently if only for a short time, as “Snow-mageddon” 2016 was bearing down on New England at the time. You see John also plows snow, another service available through J&D Landscaping.
John ran his landscaping business for nearly 30 years during which time he worked with many realtors. Over the last 10 years John became aware of the need for a caring, honest and reliable estate clean-out company, with an emphasis on a caring approach to families most often touched by a death or financial hardship, and who are in need of as much consideration as they are estate clean-out services. John explained that often the very nature of the business attracts unscrupulous characters who then prey on unsuspecting and otherwise distracted customers.
Naturally, John’s faith eventually drew him in and he began “Clean Slate Estate”, a company he’s become proud of these last six years. John’s philosophy is made simpler by that faith, as his calm and reassuring approach allows him to guide his clients through what has already been a trying time for them. Closing a chapter in one’s life is the most difficult thing anyone will do John explains, and “a simple walk with a customer before we begin is usually the best way to reassure them my crew and I see them as human being first before the task at hand”. Moreover, the confusion of loss, bankruptcy, and other family matters which may lead to liquidation or estate clean-out can leave a person vulnerable to misinformation or exploitation.
John applies the same principle of kindness one would expect from a follower and takes his clients room by room, item by item, and memory by memory if neccesary, making suggestions, but ever mindful of their anguish. From the smallest of trinkets to photos of prior generations, John navigates entire estates large and small, categorizing and assessing with patience, understanding he’s assessing someone’s existence on God’s earth, and with that comes responsibility.
John endeavors to research all items, antiques or others, in order to put a value on them for resale. “Sometimes they make money, sometimes the value of items may offset the cost of an otherwise costly removal of hazardous material of which they may not have been aware”. “I’m honest with them, and explain every step of the process, and my company is fully bonded and insured for the clients protection.” The customers satisfaction with John’s service and approach, is both a testimony and a vehicle for his business by way of a thankful referral.
John tells me the emotional burdens are extraordinary during these times, and that it was with that in mind that he started his company. He recalled a clean-out where he and his guys found a box with old WWII photos that three brothers did not know was tucked away in a closet. It contained pictures of their day during the war and from when he was a child. “They gathered around on the floor like little boys again and went through everything”. On other jobs John confided that he has to tell grief stricken folks that their loved one lives forever in their hearts and souls, but that to hold onto certain items for which they believe they have a particular attachment, usually will cause them unending pain. He told me that he receives regular calls from folks who thank him for allowing them to start fresh with a “clean slate”.
Much of what we think we must do as Christians in our everyday life comes more naturally if we don’t over think it and trust in His Divine Providence. For men like Jon Nagle, it’s more a matter of what God puts in his heart naturally, and how that manifests itself in him as he goes about making a living. He simply found a way to channel that approach to a need he recognized in his own life. I would say we all know what we must do when we leave the parking lot on Sunday. It’s natural. That doesn’t mean we should all go out and start businesses without direction or thought. But John’s experience does teach us to tone down the noise and listen. It’s at those times we may hear the most…
So listen up all you Christian businessmen and women, as well as all of you who clam up at the “Holiday Party” at work when everyone’s wishing you “happy holidays”, or those who run for the door when folks start the “Holy Roller/Bible Beater” bashing, stand tall and don’t get confused or embarrassed by your walk with God. If you let Him, Jesus will cloak you in the mantle of his truth which is, frankly, Liberating…
Oh, and its always nice when we support our local Christian businessmen and women. So if you’re in need of estate clean-out services and/or landscaping and related services contact John today.
You can learn more about Clean Slate Estate at CleanSlateEstate.com or call 401-640-9385 or write to them at Clean Slate Estate, P.O. Box 131, Chepachet, RI 02814 Additional Information about J & D landscaping is available at JDhomecare.com.