Almost every day, Quince Barnett walks through the halls of his local hospital where he works as a patient transporter. He is known by his coworkers and patients for his bright spirit, uplifting words, kind heart, and for his ministry, “Hands and Feet.” Those who see him would never guess that, not so long ago, Barnett was a patient at this same hospital, where he was treated multiple times for drug overdose.
For many years, Barnett had been caught in a pattern of homelessness, drug addiction, and despair. His drug dependance put him in a coma nine different times. But God had not given up on him. In the summer of 2020, as he walked down Eastland Parkway, he heard the familiar tune of the song, “I Surrender,” by Hillsong. A gentle voice told Barnett to follow the music, and that’s where he met the Bluegrass Connections, Kentucky, Church (BCC), who were enjoying an outdoor Saturday worship.
“I was totally different from anybody there,” Barnett said. “I was wearing some old clothes and had my hat on backward, just looking kind of grungy. But they didn’t judge a book by its cover. They welcomed me and treated me like family.”
Barnett has been attending BCC ever since, making another big positive step in his journey of healing and knowing God. In 2021, on the recommendation of a BCC church member, Barnett was offered a job as patient transporter in his community hospital. Though he was scared to work at the hospital where he had been known as “a druggy,” Barnett said he felt God calling him to help.
“The seeds from our miracles are often sewn into the same exact soil as our adversity,” Barnett said. “God brought me back to that ‘adversity soil.’ This was my chance to let others know that there is hope.”
As Barnett was looking for special ways to make a difference in the lives of his patients, he connected with fellow BCC member Kristy Stevens. Stevens is shy and not comfortable getting up front in church or ministering in the “expected ways,” but she has a heart for ministry and a talent for sewing. She is known for making neck pillows for friends and family.
“[Barnett] would tell us stories about these patients who had really touched his heart,” Stevens said. “And so, I told him, ‘Well, I can make pillows for them because I know hospital beds are notoriously uncomfortable’ … the idea was, basically, to say ‘Hey, God’s got your back; we’ve got your neck.’”
Thus, the duo began their “Hands and Feet” pillow ministry. Over the past year, Stevens has cut and sewn more than 100 neck pillows for Barnett to distribute, which he always does with a loving smile. They also give out blankets and Bibles. This ministry has also expanded to a nursing facility where BCC holds monthly worship services and activities. The nursing facility has received 20 pillows so far, and another 100 pillows are ready for distribution.
As Barnett continues to work in the hospital, he said he’s always on the lookout for patients who are alone and discouraged.
“I know what it’s like to be given up on and be judged all the time because of your mistakes,” Barnett said. “That’s why I want people to know that Jesus loves them. God did not give up on me. He will not give up on you.”
Cindy Willey is a Bluegrass Connections Church member.
Paola Mora Zepeda is Kentucky-Tennessee Conference media ministries director.
Kentucky-Tennessee | December 2022