If you’ve ever volunteered or served for CrossRoads-Appalachia, you know CJ Noe, who has worked in several capacities while serving in that field. CJ recently celebrated her 20th anniversary working with our ministry. Everyone at CrossRoads would like to congratulate her for reaching this milestone! We also reached out to CJ for some reflections on what it means to be with CrossRoads for 20 years.
What led you to start working with CrossRoads?
“My friend Tabitha Hauser, she was on staff at the time. We had some really great conversations about being in full-time ministry. Her goal was to serve in Africa. Twenty years ago she quit her job with CrossRoads so that I could have it. She is still in Africa and I am still with CrossRoads. I wanted to work with CrossRoads because I believe in the way that we teach and provide opportunities to love and serve. They aren’t just trips that make people feel good about themselves for serving and get to see a different culture. I think we recognize that those in the areas we serve have just as much to contribute to the Kingdom as those coming to serve. We all have something to learn from one another. Our trips allow the ministries where we serve to meet real physical and spiritual needs, but they also equip folks to go back to their hometowns and see a need for Jesus there that prior to the trip they may have been unable to see and have the confidence to do something about it. I think we provide opportunities for people to learn how daily life is and can be worship and learn to see their own communities through a different lens.
You currently serve as Field Cooredinator for Appalachia. Have you held any other positions and titles? If so, what are they?
“When I started with CrossRoads, we were only serving in Mexico with occasional trips to Arizona, Chicago and the Help Build Hope program was in its early phases that we just called “Weekend Retreats”. At that time we called my role the Group Coordinator. I was in Mexico for four years. I loved my time there, but my heart was always in Appalachia. We were a young and growing ministry and a bunch of just-out-of-college kids. When CrossRoads was ready to grow more, Rob pulled me out of Mexico and told me to follow my passion and vision for Appalachia. My official title has morphed over the years as CrossRoads has grown and we figured things out, but my role has been mostly the same. I guess one of the things that I love about serving with CrossRoads is that it isn’t a job. It is a lifestyle. If there is a need in one of our fields and one of us has the skill sets to meet that need then we do it. I spent months and months in Mexico. I helped lead a trip to Arizona and Chicago. I have done countless Help Build Hope events. I spent lots of time in New Orleans and surrounding areas right after Hurricane Katrina. I have traveled to conventions and college campuses and churches to help tell our story and help connect people to what is happening and hopefully connecting them to it. I have spent lots of time in Appalachia. I have learned a lot in every area and opportunity and I wouldn’t trade those opportunities for anything. However, my heart has always been in Appalachia. I have learned more about what it means to be a child of God from the people there than in any Bible class I took in college.”
How challenging has 2020 been for you and everyone in the Appalachia field?
“I was really excited about 2020. Appalachia has been in some hard transitions with partners and staff the past few years. Things were looking like we were going to have great participation and we had some really good goals with our partners. With the pandemic, all of it changed and it was just sad for me, personally. Because there are currently no CrossRoads staff on the field full time we were cautious about exposing the community to anything we may have been exposed to so most of our ministry had to be phone calls, text messages and social media. We had zoom meetings with our partners but those were even hard because no one had been in this position before. Appalachia is a very relational place. The pandemic made it hard to foster those relationships and develop new ones.”
What’s your favorite part of working for CrossRoads?
“I don’t feel like I go to ‘work’. I go to family gatherings and help plan bigger family gatherings. We have fun. We don’t always agree on everything but we work it out. It hasn’t always been easy but I feel like we all learn and grow in the process.”
Looking back on your 20 years, is there one achievement or accomplishment that makes you most proud?
“I don’t know if it is either one of those, but I guess the things that gives me confidence that I have used my time wisely (so far) are the relationships I have formed. There is one girl who changed my life; I think we have taught one another a thing or two about love. She alone has made every minute worth it. The relationships with former interns and hearing how the three months that we served together impacted them years later. I guess seeing how my time learning to serve with others helped to form them and change them and deepen their relationship with the Lord is it. There have been some cool big events that I was a part of pulling off but being part of the stories of others learning to love Jesus more is why I am still doing it.”
What future goals do you have?
“When I was in college I was told to dream a dream so big that when and if it happens then you know it was the Lord who did it and not you. I am still pursuing that dream. I always wanted to see CrossRoads serving in five different locations in Appalachia. I don’t feel like I have reached those goals in one of those locations. So … I guess my goal is to keep listening, keep loving and keep praying that people would keep hearing that they are known and loved by God. I am not the same person that I was 20 years ago, but I think my heart for people is the same, maybe a bit bolder. I am still trying to figure out what that looks like in this season of ministry. I am excited to see what happens and how God uses me to tell His story. I am hoping for another 20 years with CrossRoads Missions. I expect nothing less than crazy moments where Satan tries to mess things up and God shows off and turns that mess into something more beautiful than any plan that we had made. There has never been a dull moment yet and I expect nothing less in the future.”
We’re so appreciative and thankful for CJ and what she means to our organization. You can directly support CJ and the work she is doing in our Appalachia field.