November 8th 2005 I walked through the door of the Switch Yard at the request of Jenn Martin and John Coles to “come check it out, and see if it’s something you would like to be a part of”.
November 22 2005 I turned the key and unlocked the door for Drop in at the Switch Yard for the first time.
June 28th 2011 I locked the door of Drop in at the Switch Yard for the last time.
Since word has slowly spread of my resignation from Switch Yard I have heard all sorts of rumours. Some quite comical, some hurtful, and some down right bizarre. I have many reasons for stepping aside, some of which I am quite free with while others are personal and will stay that way. The primary reason for leaving, is that it is time.
In working for Switch Yard, I thrived on the adventure and rush this work provided. As I began to see the need, and the direct contact I got to have with kids in our community, my passion grew and burned. It became evident to those around me I was built for this. I enjoyed the conflict, because I enjoyed the resolution of it. I loved the times of boldness, as well as the times of subtlety.
For close to 6 years, this place has been my life. I molded my identity around it. I became it, and It became me. It was a dream come true… or so I thought. I have always struggled with Identity. I’ve spent most of my life being an obnoxious chameleon. One who was able to meld into most situations (primarily due to my ability to retain seemingly useless nuggets of information about every topic imaginable) yet find a way to chat and talk with people so I was able to hide in plain sight. I was now, the “Switch Yard Guy”. I could study and learn and observe my way to actually having a clue what I was talking about… and not just appear (or not) as though I did. I had found my passion.
Last June I had a health scare. Several things came clearly into sight. The clearest of those, was that I was not “Switch Yard Guy”. I was/am James Forde. I am a Husband, I am a Father. My vocation, is not who I am. But I let it be that. I put all other things in my life on hold for it, and I defended doing it because it was my passion.
353 days after my heart went ballistic on me I handed in my letter of resignation. I have a plan, and will be going back to work in an office setting (doing something else I believe I was born to do!). I will be a full time husband and full time dad. I know there are many who have been able to do both… to work in a ministry like Switch Yard, and be a great husband and father. I wasn’t able to. Which made me realize, that although this was a passion, a God given one. That it was no longer my time to be “Switch Yard Guy”. It was my time to be “babe” and “dad”.
As a man who believes that Jesus is The Way. I have come to realize that if I claim to follow him and serve him, then my family is to be my priority. To me, that means my order of responsibility goes like this; God, Family, everything else. So that is the reason I am leaving, the #1 being I am accountable to, told me I needed to focus on the #2 thing I am accountable to… Period!
I love Switch Yard. I bleed for these kids… I cant imagine not loving this place. So as I put the key in the door I cried. I took two laps around town and couldn’t stop the tears. I was not just leaving a job… not just closing a chapter… I was walking away from the identity I had hid behind.
In my almost 6 years of being the director of The Switch Yard Youth Centre, I have seen more than I could ever have imagined. I learned, I grew, I regressed, I lost hope, I lost faith, I found hope, I found faith, I cried, I broke, I ran after, I was run after, I fought for, I fought against, I grew tired, I almost died, I saw too many die.
For those of you who have worked/lived in ministry you nodded your head at many if not all of those things. You know that each one of them makes you able to do what you do, and be who you need to be. They all also take their toll. That toll in my life was my family, and that was an unacceptable toll to pay!
So thanks for understanding, and if you still don’t, come talk to me. I have valued your prayer and support in my years as “Switch Yard Guy”. I really would love to keep getting them as “Babe” and “Dad”