One afternoon while composing the mission statement for the Chester Street Foundation, I recalled a recurring dream from 20 years ago. I hadn’t thought about the dream in a long time, but I felt as if I’d just awakened from dreaming it again.
I was running as fast I could through a dark and dense woods, being chased by a pack of ferocious wolves. I carried a lamb around my shoulders, frantically looking for a place where I could take the lamb to safety. Suddenly, in the distance, I saw a tree growing directly in front of a giant rock with a flat ledge high up on top. I knew if I could just get to the tree, I could possibly climb up and save the lamb.
Running as fast as my feet could carry me with my tiny passenger, I lunged at the tree and began to climb. Just before a wolf snapped at my foot, I grabbed the branch above me, pulled myself out of reach, and continued to climb. When I arrived at the top of the stony ledge, I took the frightened lamb from my shoulders and lifted him to safety. After climbing onto the ledge myself, the little lamb and I stood side by side looking down on our tormentors.
We were safe.
While pastoring in California in my late twenties, I had this dream three or four times. It was always the same, as vivid as a movie. Each time I woke up after having the dream, I knew in my heart that it meant something. I eventually shared the dream with another pastor and he said, “Shawn, I can’t help but believe that this dream you’ve been having has something to do with what you’re going to do in the future. If I were you,” he continued, “I would just shelve it for now.”
I shelved that dream for twenty years!
Now, sitting at my desk all these years later with tears in my eyes, I remember the dream; I now know its meaning; and I have the overwhelming sense that something and someone much bigger than I am is behind the mission of the Chester Street Foundation.
Sadly many children in our community are suffering from the invisible wounds of childhood trauma. I believe I am called to do my part and help rescue as many of these innocent lambs as I can. But I need your help to do so. Will you consider joining me?
Shawn Alex Nemeth
Founding Director and CEO, Chester Street Foundation