Are you someone who hears about a problem and runs toward it? Paraclete associates Gil and Patti Carter have just the place for you—this spot next to the creek on their farm. And all you have to do is sit and rest.
Gil Carter has served all over the world, but now welcomes first responders, missionaries, pastors and military personnel to his corner of Tennessee.
“If there’s a tragedy in Guatemala, the mission family heads there,” Carter said. “If there’s a death in the church, the pastor heads there. If there’s a tornado or hurricane, the military goes there to help those people out. They walk toward trouble. This is our ministry. I feel this is exactly where God’s called us to be.”
He and his wife, Patti, have named their ministry Crossroads Mission Care. There’s space to stay in the main farmhouse at Crossroads Farm, but also places to get away and camp.
“We’ve got a lady who…would come out just for the day, and she puts her feet in the creek and reads all day,” Carter said.
If isolation isn’t your thing, Patti, a trained counselor, listens to people’s stories in a safe, nonjudgmental way.
“If you ask my kids, ‘does your mom have a superpower?’ They say, ‘People will talk to her.’”
Gil Carter also has his own special superpower—he connects people.
“I discover people who have resources, and think, ‘so-and-so would like those resources,’” he said.
That means he’s learned about a type of technology in one part of the world that could help a missionary’s ministry in another part of the world—and connects the two. Or he connects fire departments with fire chaplains who can offer resources that help care for the firefighters.
The community surrounding Crossroads has seen industries moving out and jobs going with it. Most people have lived there their whole lives. So, Carter wanted to come in, as a newcomer, asking what they need, and not presuming that he has all the answers.
“We got to know the director of the chamber of commerce and said, ‘how can we help?’” he said. “We started dropping in on different first responder departments and saying, ‘Hey, this is who we are. We have 45 acres and campsites and hiking trails and goats to watch play and you’re welcome to come.’”
If a relaxing day at the stream isn’t enough and resources don’t help, Carter has one last offer: A little friendly competition—maybe with some darts, weights, cornhole games and some delicious desserts. The Carters are planning the community’s first-ever First Responder Games at the city park in nearby Hartsville. Many of the volunteer and city fire departments will be competing in a family-friendly event in the fall. And it’ll be a chance for first responders to be seen, honored and thanked.
“Nobody wants to see us,” a first responder once told Carter. “When they see us, they’re having a bad day.”
“We need to do something to celebrate them in public,” Carter said.
So, if all goes as planned in September, Carter will be using his superpower to gather resources—tents, bleachers, food trucks—from many nearby communities. He’ll get to connect with local first responders and connect them to others. And hopefully someone will get a little muddy—then access that pretty creek for a quick bath.
“The community is starting to step in and get behind this,” he said. “I feel like every day I make a difference.”