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Inspiring messages from a cell phone

Published 10:03pm Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a weekly series of stories running through February, Black History Month, that will focus on the unique contributions of various African-Americans in Suffolk.

It’s a good thing Bernell Sherrod Sr. has an unlimited messaging plan on his iPhone.

Sherrod runs an unofficial “cell phone ministry” from his phone, texting a group of about 40 “followers” inspirational messages each day. A larger audience of more than 360 friends on Facebook also gets to enjoy the messages, which he posts on the social networking site.

Sherrod

A typical message starts with “Thought 4 2day,” followed by a short message and a Bible verse that corresponds with it.

He had this to say (or type) on Monday: “Thought 4 2day: No matter what mess we have made of our lives God can remold us into vessels of honor. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Sherrod said it started about three years ago with a handful of people and has grown from there. He wanted to encourage others the way they helped encourage him when several members of his family died of cancer.

“I decided to just send out encouraging messages,” he said. “People tell me they enjoy the messages. It helps them get through their day.”

People hear about Sherrod’s messages through a variety of avenues and give him their phone numbers to be put on his list. Sometimes they get one of the messages forwarded from a friend. Sometimes they hear about it at New Mount Joy Food For Living Ministries, where Sherrod attends church and is an elder. Sometimes they hear about it at Planters Peanuts, where Sherrod fills a number of roles including performing inventory.

Some folks even hear about it by mistake. Sometimes one of Sherrod’s contacts has changed numbers and someone else has the old number.

“They text me back and say, ‘I needed that. Who are you?’” he said.

Sherrod jots down ideas for the messages when he gets them and looks up related Bible verses. He believes every idea he gets is meant specifically for someone on his list.

“I believe the message is for them at that particular time,” he said. “We don’t know what people go through in their lives.”

Sherrod has even invested personally in his ministry since starting it, upgrading to an iPhone with an unlimited messaging plan.

And with good reason — it’s not just the recipients who are benefiting from the messages.

“These messages, they not only help them — they help me too,” he said.

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