Medicine and the Christian ministry might seem like an unlikely pair. The two usually hardly converge, but on occasion, one can see this phenomenon in the Durham community.
People who are sick and need a prescription or medical assistance might call a nurse. But locally, if they are sick, and need medical assistance or simply someone to talk to, they can call Pastor Jesse R. Mills.
Mills, a licensed practical nurse, said as Pastor of Restoration Christian Church in Raleigh, he is also able to counsel patients through the faith, if needed.
In both professions, medicine and ministry, Mills enjoys helping people. He said he likes to converse with patients to learn more about their lives and situations in order to build a personal relationship.
“As a nurse, I do an assessment on everyone, but on the spiritual side for me, I like to build relationships with them,” he said. “I like to find out this information so when they come in the next time I can ask ‘how’s the wife or how’re the children.’”
“It becomes more of a relationship, more than just me being their nurse.”
Mills began in the medical field as a nursing assistant upon the recommendation of his mother who was also a nurse. He received his license for practical nursing from Durham Technical Community College.
“My mom was a nurse and I just kind of fell in love with it and went back to school for it,” said Mills.
Mills juggles multiple roles in his professions.
As a LPN at SouthLight, a treatment center in Raleigh, Mills works with adolescents and adults dealing with substance abuse problems as well as those needing criminal justice services and with HIV and STD outreach.
Mills usually keeps his hands full.
“Pastor Jesse does a lot and his life is centered around balance and boundaries,” said Silas Craig, a member of Mills’ church for three years. “He balances each role without neglecting his family.”
“I value his dedication and respect his roles and responsibilities,” she said.
Mills knows the road traveled by many of the folks he works with and in his congregation. He has been down the path himself. He can often be found on the tougher street corners in Durham ministering to people in the community.
“The lifestyle I use to live experimenting with drugs and alcohol, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to minister and encourage individuals,” said Mills. “I let them know that they can change and they don’t have to stay where they are.”
Mills began in the ministry singing in the church choir at Orange Grove Baptist Church located at 505 East End Avenue, Durham. After being asked by the Pastor to join the ministry of the First United Antioch Baptist located in Durham, Mills spent then spent five years as youth pastor of Antioch before beginning his own ministry – Restoration Christian Church at 308 Sherwee Drive in Raleigh.
The church’s motto — “A place where your life can be changed and restored.”
Congregation member Seth Coats said Mills’ ministry is focused and grounded in “giving.”
“They really look out for other people’s needs before they look out for their own,” he said.
Coats, a congregation member for more than a year, said Mills and the church help people that really need it and may not have anywhere else to turn.
“Everybody hits hard times and this ministry helps them get back on their feet and establish a relationship with God,” said Coats.
For Mills, work is never done. He is continuing to grow his church ministry while balancing family life with a wife and two children. He is preparing to take on community projects for local youth and sees a bright future through the uplifting of the Durham community.
No stranger to community outreach, Mills orchestrated a big brothers program by the name of Young African American Males Intelligent Motivated And Determined (YAMIMAD).
“I set up young men in Durham with mentors and also set up an annual boys retreat,” said Mills. “We would leave on Fridays and come back on Sundays.”
At the retreats, mentors and mentees would discuss male issues and talk about situations that were a real concern of the boys.
“I’ve had the opportunity to run into some of these young men now that are adults and it is awesome to see how their lives have changed,” said Mills.
Members of Mills’ ministry speak highly of him. Coats said he is a pastor that does not “sugar coat” but “keeps it real.”
He summed Mills up as “a true man of the cause.”
“To try to explain Jesse, I’m almost speechless,” he said. “He looks after everybody else more than he looks after himself. He really puts energy into building the ministry up and reaches out to the community.”
“He’s dedicated to the ministry and bends over backwards to make sure everything that he can possibly do to help he does.”