Celebrating Our Founders
“How can we cross over the divide that separates us from God and separates us one from another? How can we bring the resources of the privileged to bear upon the lives of the least among us? How can we show the love of God to His people?” These are questions that Buddy and Cullen frequently discussed during the early months of 1982. Finally, one day in the halls of Third Presbyterian Church, the two men agreed to take action … and CrossOver Healthcare Ministry was born.
On a bright Saturday in November 1983 at the Word of Life Church at 106 E. Broad Street, Dr. Cullen B. Rivers and his “assistant,” Reverend Judson (Buddy) Childress, treated the first patients of CrossOver Healthcare Ministry. Their sole resources were a bare light bulb hung from a cord and a sheet for privacy. Fortunately, they brought along their talent and their commitment to living the parable of the Good Samaritan.
It wasn’t long before word about CrossOver and its mission to help the poor reached the community. Suburbanites were excited about a Christian outreach to the inner city. Unsolicited dollars began to pour in from churches and from individuals – enough to keep the ministry vital, but never enough to meet the tremendous need for clothing, shelter, food and medical care that plagued the impoverished neighborhoods of Richmond.
Defining mission and purpose
Originally, CrossOver furnished free legal assistance, help with rent and heating bills, clothing, and medical care to needy individuals and families. The ministry focused on the low-income Church Hill neighborhoods and demand for assistance offered by the ministry quickly snowballed. Buddy and Cullen remember shutting down operations for a day to pray that funding and other resources would continue.
The founders soon came to understand that health care was a “foot in the door“ – a first step in assessing other life needs – and CrossOver began the transition to a medical ministry. A large contingent of volunteer nurses and doctors were inspired to join in the work.
Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ Matthew 25:44-4
Dr. Cullen B. Rivers
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