I have never tried to swim to the bottom of the ocean. Nor have I ever tried to fly without help from an airplane. The reason for this is that I already know, before even trying, that both of those things are impossible. Why would I try to do something when I already know it is impossible?
Many of our neighbors in need feel the same way about their struggle with poverty. Stability and wholeness in life seem as inaccessible as the bottom of the Marianas Trench and as impossible as human flight. They have become so discouraged in life that they have come to believe they are simply incapable of growth. They have lost sight of the dignity and potential that God has placed in each and every one of them.
This year Love INC of Lake County launched our Affirming Potential class, a course designed to help students identify the talents and gifts that God has placed in them. From there, volunteer mentors from our partner churches lead the students to dream up personal goals and map out the steps necessary to achieving them. One of the students for the class this spring was single mother of seven, Ms. T.
Ms. T’s story
Ms. T is a driven person of faith, but her story is full of trials. Transportation has been hard to come by ever since her car broke down. She has struggled to navigate manipulative relationships and discouragement from friends and family. Most of all, childcare has been a constant hindrance to her ability to work consistently or take part in classes like Affirming Potential (AP).
After the AP team put their heads together with Ms. T, they were able to come up with some short-term help so she could be at Affirming Potential every Thursday night. Volunteers from Trinity Community Church drove her to and from class while her daughter supported her by watching the younger siblings. Ms. T was fantastic in class. She arrived each week engaged and, despite her obstacles, made it through.
“I was not gonna give up on this class.”
“I was never a person to finish anything…I have been doing that my whole life”, Ms. T said in an interview after completing the course. She explained the struggles of being a single mother of seven and how demanding it is to be consistent in her own commitments when she is balancing the lives and schedules of seven other people as well. “I don’t know what it was behind me to push me, to tell me, ‘tomorrow you have class.’ This was…the first thing that I have finished.”
Reflecting on the community she discovered through the course, she said, “It gave me a great feeling…that I was going to see everyone on that Thursday.” In fact, as she went through the process and felt herself realizing the dignity and worth that God has given her, she noticed that the manipulative friends and family that made a habit of using her were starting to creep away. She acknowledged the pain of seeing her old community come to an end, but marveled at how God protected her before she did anything about it. “Now that I am not the person I used to be…they [have fled] on their own.”
Ms. T was an immense blessing to work with and an inspiration to us all. At the conclusion of the course, she started taking intentional steps to pour into kids in North Chicago. She is presently approaching city hall to request a space for a youth program built around the principles of Affirming Potential.
I wish I could say that it has been all smooth sailing for Ms. T since the course, but it hasn’t. Her daughter’s availability changed recently, so Ms. T no longer has means of childcare. Despite her eagerness to attend, she is unable to continue on to the next course Love INC is offering in the Transformational Ministry program. While childcare is something the AP team wants to provide, we presently do not have the volunteers to support it.
How does this story touch your heart?
God is doing amazing things through Transformational Ministry, but there is much we and our neighbors in need are up against. Please consider using Transformational Ministry as a way for YOU to get involved. The ministry has needs for mentors, for teachers, for greeters, and especially for childcare volunteers. Email Marcia or join the next Volunteer Orientation to learn more!
God is proving that what has seemed impossible for our neighbors in generational poverty is more than possible with him. Come and be a part of it.