I grew up on the western side of Birmingham and was in and out of Fairfield all of my early life, but Fairfield is a different city today. Still full of good people who work hard to provide for their families and attempt to better the community, Fairfield also suffers from the brokenness that plagues so many lower income areas. When Sandra Hardy gave OMPC women the opportunity to share in the lives of the children of Fairfield, I jumped at it. The UHope Success Academy this past summer was an exhilarating experience. Just imagine the power of God at work as He opened doors in the PUBLIC school system for Christian volunteers to come in and share both their talents and their love of Christ with these middle schoolers. I think every worker felt her heart melt for these kids. They were funny, smart, creative, and motivated, and every day of our summer mission was a joy. So much so that most of us, along with newcomers, joined the Wednesday "Get Up and Go" posse once school began, and we had even more opportunities to serve this community. Some of us are at Forest Hills Middle School (within Fairfield High School) providing classroom support, and others are a few blocks away at Restoration Academy and Foundations Early Learning Center engaging one on one with students.
The first time I met sweet Winn, a senior at Restoration Academy, he was a bewildered recent transfer from a Birmingham City school where he had maintained a 2.8 GPA and was on schedule to graduate. Although he is fairly small for a football player, with hopeful innocence he spoke of college scholarships. Pre-testing at RA revealed that Winn read on a very low level with even lower comprehension skills. These weaknesses extended to math and science also. There was no way he could keep up in any of his regular classes, and a spring graduation was out of the question. He could not understand how he could have done so well at his former school and been on track to graduate only to find at RA that he would be prepared for a GED. He was hurt and confused, but at our first meeting he shared that God had orchestrated an amazing series of events to get him to Restoration Academy so he believed he must belong there. Winn had begun attending a Church of the Highlands satellite in Woodlawn, which led him to a spot in a Young Life camp, which led him to an energetic YL leader who recognized Winn's nascent heart for Christ, which led Winn to consider the fellowship and guidance (and football!) of Restoration Academy. Nothing less than divine intervention allowed Winn to move all the way across town to enable the school transfer. Winn and I continue to work on his reading skills, and he inspires my heart weekly with his diligence and sincerity. Even in his bewilderment, he is trusting God, and God is using him to reach his old friends in Woodlawn. EVERY school morning he sends out texts of encouragement and scripture to buddies who, according to Winn, will be "dead, in prison, or living forever in their mama's basements" before they are twenty. When I left him on Wednesday, he gave me a huge bear hug that will last me until we resume our tutoring sessions next semester. What a gift! And then there is my precious third grade buddy, the J-Man, over in the elementary RA building. Ah, another sweet moment each week. But that is a story for another time.
Posted: 1.5.2015 in Women’s Ministry Share: