South Park Magazine

Snapshot: J.D. McNutt

FOR SOUTHPARK MAGAZINE: J.D. McNutt, the chaplain for Thompson Children's Home, which helps kids who've often been removed from their families for abuse or neglect, in his chapel before his weekly Wednesday service. The chapel is filled with artwork and paper chains constructed from childrens' handwritten prayer requests. McNutt says that having their artwork there helps the children to feel that this is their chapel, that they "own" it.  Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com
FOR SOUTHPARK MAGAZINE: J.D. McNutt, the chaplain for Thompson Children's Home, which helps kids who've often been removed from their families for abuse or neglect, in his chapel before his weekly Wednesday service. The chapel is filled with artwork and paper chains constructed from childrens' handwritten prayer requests. McNutt says that having their artwork there helps the children to feel that this is their chapel, that they "own" it. Diedra Laird - dlaird@charlotteobserver.com dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

J.D. McNutt doesn’t think of himself as a teacher. Instead he sees himself as being on a journey with the children he works with every day. As the Spiritual Life Coordinator at Thompson Child and Family Focus, McNutt has spent the last three years as a central figure in the daily lives of the children, many of whom need structure and healing in their lives. He works with them by teaching forgiveness, building self-esteem, and doing a lot of listening. This year marks Thompson’s 125th anniversary and to celebrate, McNutt and the children of Thompson will help host the Annual Portraits of Courage Luncheon on May 18. More info: Toinette Wilkinson, twilkinson@thompsoncff.org or 704-644-4371. I decided to work with children because they teach me about God. They have such a sense of wonder about everything and that feeds me spiritually. Some days I think they teach me more than I teach them. Spiritual healing is important for everyone. Spirituality is definitely a part of the whole person. In order to heal a person wholly, not only do we have to look at what they need physically, relationship-wise or educationally to grow, but also what they need to grow spiritually. I think it's a part of the whole person and if you leave it out then we're not healing the person completely. We help the children to see that spirituality is a part of life. My favorite childhood memory is riding my little pedal-car fire truck. It had a little ladder and I would climb up and rescue whatever animal was in trouble. I would save the day! Being a spiritual director means listening and doing less talking. I think people in general really want somebody to talk to and more than just having somebody to talk to they want somebody to listen to them. I think the most important thing for anyone is to learn to actively listen and really engage with them. Working with children at Thompson is great, and sometimes tough. It's tough to know what they're going through and sometimes you wish you could just fix it for them. These children have seen and been through things that no child should ever go through. You have to look for the good in every day and help them to look for the good because otherwise it's so easy to get caught up in negativity. It forces me to see the good in other people. Witnessing a breakthrough moment is sometimes the biggest blessing of your life. It might be a child having an "a-ha" moment about God, and those kinds of moments are beautiful to witness. It might be the child understanding why they are angry and realizing what's going on deep down, or connecting to themselves and others by saying, "this is what I'm feeling, help me out."

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