Chris Mangum’s Legacy
David Spickard’s, CEO of Jobs for Life, reflection on the life of Chris Mangum at his Home-Going service on May 6, 2013:
Pat and the Mangum family have given me the honor and privilege to talk about Chris’ legacy today. If I had had the opportunity to ask Chris what I should say, he would have said, “David, don’t talk about my legacy. Talk about the Lord’s legacy instead.” So, that’s what I’m going to do.
This is Lord’s legacy in and through His servant and my mentor and friend, Chris Mangum.
Fifteen years ago, I hounded Chris every other week with a call or an email from my home in Alabama because I had learned of the organization he had recently helped start, Jobs for Life, which at that time was called Jobs Partnership.
There was something about Jobs for Life that captivated me, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it.
Jobs for Life was started because Pastor Donald McCoy, pastor of Pleasant Hill United Church of Christ needed his church’s parking lot paved. He had heard of CC Mangum and decided to give the company a call. Because of circumstances only the Lord can orchestrate, Chris answered the call that day and as he talked to Pastor McCoy, he felt something tugging at him to be the one to service this request even though he could have sent another employee to do it.
So, Chris went. He met Pastor McCoy and one his church leaders and began measuring the area for the parking lot. After he was through and they discussed the project, Pastor McCoy invited Chris to follow them into the church sanctuary. Chris watched as the two men went to the front alter and fell down prostrate. Chris not knowing what to do continued to watch until they waved him down the aisle to join them.
That day, Chris found himself lying prostrate in between two African American men praying for a parking lot. But as Chris told this story countless times, he realized later they were not praying for a parking lot, they were praying for a relationship instead.
Chris finally got tired of me and let me come to work for Jobs for Life. I was this young Opie looking red headed kid who had big plans to change the world. I needed a mentor….and the Lord provided that mentor for me in Chris.
When John the Baptist was talking about Jesus, he said: “He must increase; but I must decrease.” That is the way Chris led and lived his life. He gave of himself so that others might win and Christ would be glorified. He was the steady rock in the midst of a storm. He knew life was not about quick fixes. He embraced the journey and faithfully sacrificed himself for everyone else’s well being – first, his family – the joy of his heart – then his friends, his employees, his business associates, and those who were most forgotten and overlooked in our community.
Chris believed in me and I wanted to make him proud. Not long ago, we had some good news at Jobs for Life and I couldn’t wait to tell Chris. It was the kind of news that was the answer to years of prayer. We had lunch at TK Tripps and when I told him the news, he stopped eating, tears welled up in his eyes, and we both started crying together in the restaurant.
We rejoiced in God’s goodness and faithfulness to us and Jobs for Life. And I was reminded how Chris had always been steadfast in both good times and bad, because he believed in me, he believed in others, and he believed in a very big God.
A God who owns and is in control of everything, brings light into the midst of darkness, hope in the face of hopelessness, and is true to His promises.
CC Mangum did pave Pleasant Hill’s parking lot. In fact, the project went so well that Chris and Pastor McCoy became close friends and they decided to get together for lunch on a regular basis. During one of those lunches, Chris shared with Pastor McCoy that several of CC Mangum’s trucks were sitting parked due to a lack of driver. Pastor McCoy responded that he had able-bodied men and women in his church and in his neighborhood who were parked just like Chris’ trucks due to a lack of a job.
From there, Jobs for Life was born so that what just started as a moment during lunch is now a network of churches and ministries in 220 cities and 5 countries training men and women for work and transforming people’s lives.
Chris thought they were praying for a parking lot. He found out later they were praying for a relationship – his and Pastor McCoy’s – but it was far bigger than that.
They were praying for thousands of relationships happening now all across the world where people are decreasing so that others might increase, bringing hope to the hopeless, and giving glory and praise to the God of all the universe.
These relationships will not end and there are thousands more to come so that the Lord’s legacy through Chris will continue forever. To God be the glory.