By Jimmie Joe
“My name is Jimmie Sanders, but everyone called me Joe since I was a little boy. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1952. I have nine brothers and two sisters. We came up struggling, but at that time we didn’t know any different. Once I got of age, I could pretty much put things in perspective how hard things were. I got married in ’75. I have three sons and one daughter. I went into the Marine Corps in ’79 and stayed for 14 years. As I got out I ended up here in Virginia and that’s where I’ve been the last twenty years on and off.
I didn’t too much have a childhood, as far as getting out and playing with other kids. My mother, she relied on me a lot, even though I was the third oldest–watching my brothers and sisters. I really didn’t have the chance to adventure out to have the fun that other little kids would have. By me being able to watch my siblings, I learned a lot about how to care for others. From day to day we had to make ways to have food to eat. My mother, she worked as a house maid for white people. What she made for that day is what we had for that day, and she would stop at the store and get groceries. We made ends meet, and there was a small community around us where we always had help as well.
I ended up getting on the wrong foot, and I did something crazy that I shouldn’t have done. I ended up being incarcerated for about eight and a half years. While in there I decided to change myself around. I got baptized in there. From then on I tried to stay on the straight and narrow. Then, when I got released I had never been introduced to being homeless. I was frantic. I didn’t know what to do because I had never faced anything like that. Someone pointed me in the direction of Micah. Since then, I have been well blessed. Micah has played an integral part in my recovery from being homeless.
It’s very humbling because I remember where I were. I remember to where I had gone, and there was a brick wall there. Now, that brick wall has been removed. I had a good job. I was a truck driver. I was doing good. But once that is all gone, reality hits you. Personally, I think one wrong outweighs a thousand rights. I had many wrongs. I was able to reflect back on that, and that’s when I decided to change my life around and try to get my life back together, and be a mentor to others. I guess that’s what God calls me to do.
God has been present in all avenues of my life. I am very humble. I am slow to speak when there is anger around. I find myself that I can tell someone whether they are wrong or right without having to stir up strife. In the past it wasn’t like that. God has really made me humble. I ask him all the time to keep me humble–to give me the words to say, not the words that I want to say be the words I need to say.
Micah has been a great support. Everyone in the house where I live–people who I was on the street with–we have been supportive of each other. Working with the different church groups each Saturday, through the furniture ministry, is also a support group, as well. It gives me a sense of pride, a sense of hope and a sense of wanting to help others because I was helped. I don’t waiver when someone needs help. As a community that’s what we should be able to do because the Bible says “don’t put off til tomorrow what you can do today.” That’s what God has put into my heart. I could easily say no, but why. I still remember that I have been helped. I had to call on someone to help me. If I’m able bodied I’m going to do it. I could make excuses not to do it. A person spends more energy making excuses not to do something, than to do something. That’s how we should be able to work as a community.
Even though someone may do something wrong, you still love that person. You don’t condone what they did, but you still love that person. You can’t continue to throw up in someone’s face what they did, and then say “I love you.” That’s not love. We all have to remember, we all fell short at some time. We love that person and unconditional love, you don’t continue to bring up stuff like that.”
We hope you will receive Joe’s story with loving kindness and meet him virtually using the link below.