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‘Uncle Bert’ not slowing down at Pinedale Residential Center

Posted: November 19, 2013 4:35 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Pinedale Residential Center resident Isaac “Uncle Bert” Rush hasn’t let living in a residential home slow him down or stop his mission.  

After moving into Pinedale in January, Rush noticed that some of the residents at Pinedale hadn’t received a single visitor. Rush said he wants to encourage people to visit the lonely and sick, so he’s starting the “N As Much Club.” 

One day, Matthew 25:40 jumped out at Rush in a new way.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

The biblical words inspired Rush to start a club by the name “N As Much” to allow people to show their love for God by caring for others. No one at Pinedale knew of a similar club, but Rush later found that there are organizations by that name in other areas, he said. Some of the similar clubs are called “The Least of These,” Rush said he was told.

He said, essentially, the verse means “You aren’t just visiting me, you are visiting Jesus.”

After seeing how children, visitors and even live music put a smile on every face in Pinedale, Rush said he wanted to create something that would inspire people to visit those in need more frequently.

Buster Morris, Rush’s nephew, and minister of music and senior adults at Malvern Hill Baptist Church, said he noticed that the lack of visitors for various people at Pinedale was a “burden on (Rush’s) heart.” Pinedale residents enjoy visitors, Morris said. Various church members visit the sick and shut-ins once a week and make their rounds to nursing homes about twice a month, Morris said. After visiting Pinedale, Malvern Hill Baptist Church will most likely name their already and up-and-running, but unnamed, outreach program the Inas much Club, Morris said.

“We are doing it for the residents, but we, as God’s children, are called to visit like we are serving Him,” he said, right in line with his Uncle Rush.

Rush is “an amazing man” and a longtime advocate who has always served his community, his great-niece, Sherry Rush Simpson, said. Simpson, too, said it hurts Rush’s heart to see that so many residents have no one visiting them. Rush started three “missions” in Kershaw County: Trinity Baptist Church in Lugoff, Southside Baptist Church in Camden and one in Lucknow. Rush also hands out business cards that read “You have to believe” by using “U,” “1/2,” “2” “B” and a picture of a leaf, to certain people that cross his path. Rush said he gave the card to a woman in a drug store one day and the woman told Rush that she had lost her job the day before. The card was confirmation that she’d soon get another job, she told him. Rush also recounted the time he gave one of the cards to a truck driver, who revealed that he had strayed in his relationship with God, Rush said. He has given out more than 2,000 of the cards.

Brenda McCaskill said she’s not surprised Rush is still doing God’s work. McCaskill has known Rush since she was in the third grade when Rush would drive children and adults to Lucknow Baptist Church each Sunday. McCaskill said Rush was like the post office: driving people to church in hail, rain, sleet or snow.

“He was never sick. He was always there,” McCaskill said, remembering her trips to church. “I can’t tell you how incredible he is. I know no other like him. He’s one of the big inspirations in my life.”

The N As Much Club is free and open to anyone; there is no organizational affiliation, Rush said. Pinedale staff and administration have been very supportive of his efforts, too, he said.  Pinedale administrator Phillip Hudson said “passionate” is the best word to describe Rush. Hudson said various area churches visit Pinedale, but there are efforts from churches in the community to target residents who aren’t visited frequently.  

Bethel Worship Center Youth Pastor Vunk Hefner said his youth group will visit Pinedale residents at least once every few months, depending on student schedules. This will complement the church’s Missions Week, where Bethel partners with various organizations throughout the community, such as New Day on Mill and Habitat for Humanity.

“We have to get students to understand the generations before us. Students need to know that it’s important to serve the community we live in,” Hefner said.

Jackie Stokes of Hospice Tri-County introduced Hefner and Rush in hopes of helping Rush’s club become a reality. Stokes said people should be doers of the word and not just listeners. That may be a simple goal, she said, but it is Rush’s last wish and she wants to see it through.

“In this generation, churches are good at completing the physical work that needs to be done, but there are no relationships because of social media. (Rush) wants one-on-one relationships, and this club will foster that,” Stokes said.

Anyone interested in becoming a member or supporting the club can contact Bethel Worship Center or Malvern Hill Baptist Church.

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