April 2, 2012


This is the final part in this series of posts. Want to see how I got here? Here are the first four:
Part 1: Six Months Ago
Part 2: To Teach, or Not to Teach
Part 3: Memphis?
Part 4: Under Review

After about 40 hours after I returned home, I received a phone call from Remi letting me know that I had been chosen to be a part of the MTR program. Being there felt so right, so I was almost expecting the call. If I wasn't picked, it would have been utterly disappointing. I'm so glad I was.

This job, unlike any other position I have ever had, places me in a situation where I am forced to deal with people where their are. I need to build a relationship with a classroom of students, parents, school faculty and staff, and various members of the community. I will suddenly transform into a person sewn into the fabric of a neighborhood that directly has the ability to help influence the direction of a person's entire life. What I make of it is entirely up to me.

Being a Christian in a church setting is the easiest place for one to be. But actually demonstrating a life; living out the gospel by showing love, justice, sacrifice, grace, dignity, and power to people who might not otherwise every see or feel it is big part of what God calls us to do. It's far easier to talk about it, or even talk about doing it, than actually doing it.

I feel I've been all talk and now I've been given the chance to put it all into action.

I went to college and learned about Government & Politics. I went to seminary and got an M.A. in Religion and am on the verge of completing an M.Div. I've spent about 10 years working directly with high school and college students, and the past 2 working with integrating parents, children, and their church. Oh, and yeah, I had day jobs working getting people post-graduate credentials and in a family law office. I got married and became a parent. Each of these things once felt utterly disconnected. With MTR, all of them click together.

This summer I will begin my preparation to become a teacher in an elementary school in a low-income, urban neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee. The teaching goes beyond the subject matter I'll be hoping my kids learn. I will seek to fill a need in their lives in addition to math, science, or reading. By hoping to be a positive male influencer in their lives, I hope to shine a light into kids lives that may currently exist only in darkness. But much larger than simply me alone, I have the opportunity to join forces with other teachers with the same Christian commitment who seek to revolutionize Memphis schools. 

This is not about talking anything religion-related to any of the kids. Backgrounds will be mixed because it is a public school, after all. Rather, it's all about actually displaying a Christ-like character to everyone we meet. And we stand in lockstep with an even larger community actively at work to transform the city's neighborhoods, healthcare, and employment. These people aren't simply doing these things in silos; they are working collaboratively. Not just because it's a nice thing to do, but it's because it is what God commands.

When the society turns their backs on entire groups of people, Christians are supposed to open their arms.

My seemingly random life in ministry suddenly makes sense.


Ruth Abel said...

Proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Great to read your story and how it has unfolded. I liked Ruth's story too. :) All the best. Btw, I think you will like watching dividedthemovie.com about family-based youth ministry. :) -Melissa B.