Overcoming Obstacles: The Journey of Project WeHOPE details the life of Pastor Paul Bains and his journey to marrying the love of his life, becoming a successful entrepreneur, and starting Project WeHOPE, a nonprofit organization that has touched thousands of lives and made an enormous impact in the San Francisco Bay Area and is located in East Palo Alto.
This book is intended to provide practical application for your business and/or personal life and provide encouragement that you can overcome the obstacles that get in your way, providing that you don’t give up. It describes the good, the bad, and the trying times that were encountered during the journey to help the homeless become healthy, employed, and housed. Things were not easy, but we persevered and let go of our fears to become known around the world. If you are experiencing obstacles, this book is for you.
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Read an Excerpt
A Little History
You don't have to have a small fortune to achieve your dreams. You simply must overcome the obstacles that get in your way and be willing to triumph over your fear and take a leap of faith. Many people step right up to the goal line and refuse to cross it. Their apprehension becomes paralyzing and it keeps them from accomplishing their goals. They talk themselves out of greatness and settle for mediocracy. They become stuck in a rut and become comfortable in their rut. Often, they think that their rut is a valley. In other words, they think that they are going through a low time, a struggle, when really, they are in a good place, but are blinded by fear and cannot see it. They allow fear to keep them from crossing over. They become complacent - wandering back and forth instead of moving forward into the greatness that awaits them. If you recognize yourself, you are not alone. Most people are currently or have been in the same position as you are right now. They get stuck believing in this whole notion that they will accomplish X once Y comes into play. More often than not, they could accomplish X without Y if they would simply cross over any and all obstacles and step into their destiny. The secret to success is not avoiding obstacles. It is in being brave enough to overcome them. Take a risk! There you will find joy, fulfillment, and greatness.
'FaiThis taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase (Martin Luther King Jr).'
This profound statement by Martin Luther King Jr outlines the life and ministry of Pastor Paul Bains and his journey to becoming an entrepreneur, marrying the love of his life, pastoring Saint Samuel Church of God in Christ, and starting a non-profit organization that would touch tens of thousands of lives. His upbringing led him to have an enormous vision. His faith in God gave him the courage to pursue the grandiose ideas in his heart with reckless abandon. He learned to overcome his fear and do whatever was necessary to achieve greatness. Yes, there were many obstacles that got in his way. Several of them were very painful and came with a high price. However, he has a stubborn tenacity that drives him. His creative and tactical thinking have helped him endure the worst of times.
Paul Jeremiah Bains was born in December of 1961 to William Lloyd Bains (commonly known as W.L.) and Mary Celeste Crittle Bains. His parents were devout Christians and members of the Church of God in Christ, the world's largest predominately African American Church. They lived in San Francisco, California, but eventually relocated to Palo Alto, California. W.L. was a painter by trade. He was a perfectionist and made a point to do his best at everything he did. While painting, his work was extraordinary. He was not one to settle for being a good painter; he was determined to be the best. He grew up in a time when racial discrimination was running rampant. He did not allow that to deter him. It was a big obstacle to overcome. He recognized he had to prove himself in ways in which other people were not required. He embraced this obstacle and took pride in being Black. It wasn't in an arrogant way. He simply embraced his heritage and was not afraid to take a risk. He recognized that Blacks have a different struggle than other races so he instilled in his children the importance of a good education, strong work ethic, and solid plans for their futures. After all, he wanted his children to strive for their best.
W.L. grew up in Texas, so he was not a stranger to etiquette and hospitality. He had numerous principles and values which guided his decisions and impacted his family. He was not one to allow circumstances to deter him. He was going to find a way to get around all hindrances. If he couldn't get around them, he would climb over them or simply move them out of the way. It was this determination which lead him to pursue his dreams and develop a strong work ethic. He lived by the scripture found in Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
'And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.'
He believed that doing your best was not an act of greatness or nobility; it was a general expectation, especially if you considered yourself to be a child of God.
Another trait that must be noted about W.L. Bains is that he was very innovative for his day. He was well known for his entrepreneurial mind and the way in which he could communicate Scripture to his congregation. He was an excellent orator and a well-respected member of the community. People still refer to his sermons as having been enlightening, inspiring, and messages that they had never heard before. He was not afraid to take a risk or follow his principles, even if it went against whatever was popular. One example of this is how he allowed women to speak from the pulpit at a time where that was completely unheard of. He was a renaissance man. He did not believe in living on the edge of greatness. He was determined to experience greatness to its fullest extent. Due to his intellect, some of the locals referred to him as 'Dr. Bains.' He was extremely diversified, having a wealth of knowledge in various industries. He had a radio broadcast in San Francisco and was in Jet, a still popular national magazine for African American's featuring success stories in the African American community. He was featured in this magazine because of his benevolent service and accomplishments in the African American community.
His passion and determination caused him to project grand expectations on those who served under his leadership. He believed that everyone should give their best, especially in the house of God. He felt strongly that, 'God is not interested in your left overs. He wants your first fruit. Give God your best.' Due to this stringent belief, he would 'call people on the carpet' when they didn't do their best. For some, this motivated them to rise to the occasion and grow. Others could not handle his expectations and viewed him as an arduous task master. Nevertheless, no matter how they perceived him, they respected him.
Prior to founding Saint Samuel Church of God in Christ, named after his deceased son, W.L. served in the Army. During his tenure in the service, he was a boxer. His wife Mary worked at Stanford in the kitchen and eventually became a Stanford nurse for over 30 years. She was a great cook and loving wife. They had eight children, four girls and four boys. They were a close-knit family. All the children were taught to value one another and to be obedient to God as well as their parents. Their traditional church positioned them to be different than the children in which they were surrounded. For example, one of their church denominational teachings did not permit girls to wear pants. This did not allow for any exception. Consequently, the girls were not permitted to dress out for P.E. This required speaking to teachers and the principal. W.L. understood the rules of the school, but he stated, 'The rules of God supersede the rules of any institution.'
This belief was based on the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 22:5 (NIV) which states, 'A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all who do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.' They stood by their principles and beliefs despite the protests of the teachers and the protests of some of their children.
Another strict adherence to biblical principles that they followed was being hospitable to one another. They believed in feeding the hungry and providing a place to stay if they could do so. Because of this belief, the children would often come home from school and find evangelists or other young people without a place to stay were now living with them temporarily. This practice birthed hospitality in all the children which continues to exist in their adulthood. Many of them still have different friends, extended family members, or simply people in need living in their homes at this very moment. They were by no means financially wealthy, however they passed on a lot of wealth to their children by other means. Being their 'brother's keeper' is one aspect of the legacy that W.L and Mary left to their children, who have gone on to help numerous people in need and to encourage them to pursue excellence and persevere.
Additionally, W.L. was a generous man. He owned a parking lot in San Francisco on Broadway for several years. Instead of selling it for millions of dollars, he gave it to someone in need. This man worked for W.L. for less than ten cents on the dollar. If anyone asked him why he gave away such a valuable piece of property by which the sale of said property could sustain him for most of his life, he would tell them that God was the supplier of his needs.
The Upbringing of Paul
Paul Bains was the youngest member of his family. He was a bundle of energy from the moment he was born. There was a large age gap between him and his oldest sibling. As a result, some of his siblings helped raise him, as they were practically old enough to be his parent. As a child, Paul was like the Energizer Bunny. During his older sister's wedding, he ran around the reception at break-neck speed. He ran into a glass window, fell down, got back up, and continued running. His family has retold this story several times, as it was one of the highlights of his childhood mischievousness. Interestingly, this part of him has not changed. Although you will not find him running around inside of buildings, he is constantly on the run going from one meeting to the next. He does not like being stagnant. He keeps himself busy and is very connected to community leaders, church leaders, and a host of politicians and thought leaders.
Paul was an optimistic, happy go lucky child. His parents endured the unimaginable pain of losing two adolescent children. Prior to Paul's birth, his brother Samuel was hit and killed by a train in a mysterious accident. Saint Samuel Church of God in Christ was named after the precious young son and brother who died such a tragic death. As Paul grew up, he was often told by his siblings, friends, and teachers that he bore some resemblance to his late brother. Samuel was kind, outgoing, helpful, and well- liked by many. Paul has these identical qualities. He goes above and beyond to help people in need. It's as if he feels a personal burden for the struggling and suffering, especially friends and adopted family members. His generosity far exceeds the norm. It is the essence of his character an inseparable core component of his being.
When Paul was four years old his 14-year old sister died of complications caused by sickle cell anemia. Paul remembers attending the funeral and looking up at the casket. He was confused at what was going on around him. He remembers the sad looks on everyone's face, the heartbreak in his mother's eyes and the endless tears. His parents had an inconceivable strength and navigated through these painful experiences. It was their faith in God and the assurance that they would see them again one day that helped them to make it through. Additionally, they did not want their suffering to overshadow their joy, so they persevered.
Despite the sad times, the Bains children have many fond memories of their upbringing. They had family dinners several nights a week where they would gather around the table, talk, laugh, and enjoy the delicious meal prepared by their mother and sisters. Sunday dinners were extra special. W. L. would begin each dinner by reciting the Lord's Prayer. They loved and appreciated one another and were grateful for so many family moments.
W.L. liked to make his wife and children laugh. He loved drinking Slurpee's from 7 Eleven. He would drink them too fast and get 'brain freeze.' Then he would smack the table and say, 'oh my head.' The children thought that was hilarious and still laugh about it when they reflect on the 'good old days.'
Although W.L. had a humorous side, he ran a tight ship. If he told his children to do something, he wasn't going to repeat it. If they did not listen, they were going to be in big trouble. He had a way of looking at the children when they misbehaved that let them know that they needed to straighten up. He held high morals and values and expected his children to abide by these values. For example, he didn't believe in using profanity or anything related to profanity. He was opposed to smoking, drinking, or listening to 'worldly music.' He only allowed for Christian music to be played in the house. He was a strict disciplinarian who believed in corporal punishment. Paul only remembers getting three spankings from his dad. The first one was when he was four years old. He went to the store with his father to purchase something and Paul picked up a package of beef jerky and walked out of the store with it. That is when he learned about stealing and the consequences of taking something in which he did not pay.
Although Paul only received a few spankings from his dad, he received several from his mom. His sisters received several spankings from both of their parents, but Paul managed to learn from their mistakes. W. L. wanted to make sure that his children were prepared for the 'real world,' so he made sure that the children did chores. On Saturdays they had to clean the house from top to bottom. Paul was not a fan of cleaning on Saturday because of course church was on Sunday and they were expected to be at every service. The children were very committed to their church.
The most treasured time of year for the Bains family was Thanksgiving and Christmas. Paul loved the holidays. He lived for them. The Bains family would watch old 8mm movies. The entire family would be over and of course various friends and extended family members. Paul's older brother Richard moved out of the house when he was 18 years old. However, Christmas brought the entire family together. They loved going shopping and especially enjoyed going to the Kress store and shop in San Francisco. They would get in the church van (a van his parents bought but used for the church). W. L. would drive around San Francisco. He was familiar with the different areas of this great city because he worked there.
There was one occasion when Paul was eight or nine years old and the family was doing holiday shopping. While they were in Macy's, Paul was punching on a punching bag, having a wonderful time pretending to be Mohammed Ali. W.L. observed him from afar. He approached Paul and told him to go and check on his mother. This was a diversion tactic because W.L. knew that the punching bag would be the perfect gift for Paul. As Paul reached his mother, he turned around and saw that his dad had the box with the punching bag in his hand. Paul was extremely excited because he knew that he was getting it for Christmas.
Paul loved picking out the tree. At an early age, he considered himself to be a tree decorator extraordinaire. One year his mother picked out the tree and it was a 'Charlie Brown Christmas tree.' It was small and frail and the branches were spread out quite far apart. With childlike optimism, Paul meticulously decorated the tree so even that tree was beautiful. His parents were pleasantly surprised. The things that Paul loved most about Christmas were the beautiful gifts under the freshly decorated tree and the endless food. Also, he loved to buy gifts for family and friends often surprising them with his special presents. He remembers buying his mother two small mirrors with angels on them. He spent all the money he had on this gift and was excited to give it to her. She loved it and hung it in the living room. Each year he bought his father ties and socks. Buying gifts was so foundational for Paul that people made sure he was able to purchase them. This included members of his family and people in the store who were moved that this young man wanted to buy such nice gifts for his parents. Whenever he didn't have enough money, strangers in the store were willing to pitch in to help him purchase the perfect Christmas gift.
His family always had such a wonderful time. They went to church as a family and the children gave Christmas speeches. They sang Christmas music and brought gifts for their extended church family. After church, Paul enjoyed playing with his friends and seeing what gifts his friends got for Christmas. If one of his friends didn't get anything, he liked to share his toys because he always got more than one gift. One thing that he did not enjoy about Christmas, was when he received clothes. He preferred that clothes be given at a less festive occasion.
As his siblings got older, his brother would come and give his father money in a card. This became a family tradition. W.L. would shake the card to see what dropped out. This practice evolved into a game. His older sister would come up with creative ways to give money and make it into a gift. One year she made a tree with dollar bills. Another time she taped the money inside the card so that it would not fall out when he would shake it. It was all done in fun. This tradition added to the joy of the holiday season.
Excerpted from "Overcoming Obstacles"
Copyright © 2017 Alicia Garcia.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 A Little History, 1,
Chapter 2 The Upbringing of Paul, 7,
Chapter 3 The Good Thing, 15,
Chapter 4 All Can Win, 23,
Chapter 5 The Birth of Project WeHOPE, 29,
Chapter 6 A Renewed Vision, 35,
Chapter 7 Bumps and Bruises, 39,
Chapter 8 Moving Forward, 51,
Chapter 9 Positioned for Growth, 55,
Chapter 10 Recognizing our Strengths, 61,
Chapter 11 The Power of Forgiveness, 67,
Chapter 12 Additional Setbacks, 73,
Chapter 13 Lessons Learned, 77,
Chapter 14 Dignity on Wheels, 85,
Chapter 15 Continued Expansion, 95,