I have been with Light of the Village for exactly a year now. I first found out about LOV about two and a half years ago when I came out with my dance team S.t.o.m.p. Little did I know that day all God had in store for me. What I thought was just going to be another dance opportunity turned into a life-changing moment.
Growing up in Mobile, I can remember always being told to never go to Prichard because it was a very bad and dangerous place, especially for a young girl like me. So when I found out that we were going to Prichard to dance, you can imagine that I was a little apprehensive at first. But I remember right before we arrived on campus, God gave me such an overwhelming peace for what was about to unravel before me. As soon as I got out of my car I noticed a young boy running full speed towards me, and as he got close he leapt into my arms and embraced me with a hug as if I were a long lost friend. From that moment on, my life was forever changed. I was no longer there to just dance a couple of songs; I was there for a much bigger purpose.
After being with the ministry as a volunteer at first and now as a staff member, as the reading coach with the GED program, and Summer Bible Camp intern with the teenage girls I have come to know two things. One: the statistics about Prichard are very real. And two: the people are even more real! They are the most beautiful and real people you will ever meet.
I always get a kick out of most people’s first reaction when they hear that I work in Alabama Village. They usually look like a deer in headlights, and then they tend to ask the same question. Why?
Why? Why do we do what we do? Because its about the individual! Luke 15:4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?” Jesus said it best. It’s not about numbers; it’s about the one! He rejoices when He sees His children come to the realization of how much He loves them and cares about each one of their lives, dreams, fears, what they like and what they don’t. When I come to work each day, I never know what the day will hold. Each new day has its own struggles and its own victories.
There are many days where I have asked the Lord what do I really have to offer? Can I really make a difference in these kids’ lives? Am I doing enough? What else can we do? The answer is always the same: love!! When I feel helpless or unsure what to do, I choose to love which is something that is scarce and uncommon in the lives of many of our kids.
At the end of this week during the Bible study with our teenage girls I asked them a question. What is love? One said being kind to one another. Others said walking away from a fight when you really just want to punch the other person. But one girl said it best. “Love is loving someone even after they’ve hurt you, and choosing to treat them with kindness even when you don’t feel like it!” Love isn’t a feeling; love is an action! Some days that action is in a hug, letting the kids play with your hair, or taking the time to listen to a student’s heart and where he or she comes from. It’s so easy to focus on the negative of the environment that we are in. But if you take the time, you will always find God speaking, and you’ll see his beauty surrounds us at every corner. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it!” John 1:5