When Bill Moll considered retiring, he envisioned doing volunteer work at the church he attended, Abundant Life Assembly of God, in Cupertino, California. He also contemplated using his considerable work experience as a volunteer in a Christian organization.
He had been senior vice president of merchandising at Macy’s West, overseeing more than 250 locations in the Western U.S., as well as Hawaii and Guam. After that, Moll served as executive vice president for Stein Mart, a national clothing chain. He had worked hard, paid his dues, and looked forward to retiring early so he could do something more significant with his life.
When Moll turned 59 and retired in 2010, however, he didn’t anticipate that God would have other plans for him — plans to work in a slum.
Moll had been content volunteering at the church, when in 2013 Senior Pastor Greg Wendschlag asked him to co-lead an urban mission trip, working with San Francisco City Impact, located in one of the nation’s poorest urban districts, known as the Tenderloin. This one-square-mile, inner-city neighborhood is home to 44,000 people (including 7,000 homeless) and features San Francisco’s highest crime rate.
“That was the last thing in the world I wanted to do,” Moll says. Though his wife, Patty, had participated in street ministry, such a venture was way out of his comfort zone. But as he considered how much Patty had sacrificed to follow him in his career, Moll agreed to go.
“I wanted to do this for her,” he says. As the trip drew closer, however, he dreaded it. “I really didn’t want to go.”
When their group arrived at the ministry location, Moll hid out in the kitchen. That worked well the first day. But God prodded him to go into the neighborhood. So the next morning he went into a building, knocked on doors, handed out food, and prayed with people.
A knock on the second floor of an apartment building changed his life.
The man who answered was a former IBM software engineer who had become entangled with drugs and lost everything. As Moll talked with the man, he sensed God whispering, You are where you are because of Me.
Moll at that moment knew where he would spend his retirement: in this inner-city neighborhood, building relationships and ministering to society’s forgotten and misunderstood.
After that mission trip, he and Patty found themselves returning each week to the Tenderloin as part of City Impact’s Adopt a Building initiative. In September 2015, their work drew Christian Huang’s attention. Huang, the ministry’s executive director, got a copy of Moll’s résumé and requested a lunch meeting. At the meeting, Huang laid out the résumé and a map of the Tenderloin, which showed every building in the district.
“Could you use all the experience you gained in the corporate world to leverage it for the Kingdom?” Huang boldly asked Moll.
Then Huang posed a colossal follow-up question: “Can you commit to adopt every building in the Tenderloin before you die?” That’s 305 buildings.
“Did God give you all this experience in the corporate world just so you can enjoy the latter part of your life skiing and biking?” Huang continued. “Or could it be because He was training you to use the best years of your life for the Kingdom?” Huang challenged Moll to pray about it.
Two days later, Moll responded with a resounding yes. He and Patty agreed to lead the Adopt a Building initiative and started two months later.
The Molls drive 45 minutes from their home in Woodside, California, one of the richest neighborhoods in the nation, to work in the Tenderloin, one of the poorest and roughest.
Twice a week the Molls gather and mobilize volunteers to go into their “adopted” buildings and build relationships. They greet the residents, help meet their needs, feed them, and pray for them.
“We give them a connection to people who care, and that can lead them to the Lord,” Moll says.
Moll loves his revised version of retirement.
“These people know us now,” he says. “We’re a Caucasian couple who don’t exactly ‘fit in.’ But we walk those streets and look people in the eyes — we can give them dignity.”
Although this isn’t how Moll initially pictured retirement, now he can’t envision being anywhere else.
“My life before was cutthroat, dog-eat-dog,” Moll recalls. “Now I don’t worry about power struggles and corporate politics. I just get to love people — right where they are.”
Source: AG News