Dark Stripes

See the Stripes Poem

This poem was written and produced a year ago. It’s about Clemson University’s dark and striped past, in its link with the brutal institution of slavery.

I’m sure that people will react on all parts of the spectrum. Some will embrace the words too much and resist a hope that can only be found in the gospel, and some will oppose this poem too much and resist a chance at gospel-centered reconciliation.

Take a few minutes to watch and listen to See the Stripes by A.D. Carson:

Here’s a snippet that stands out to me:

“for some reason or another—
it’s uncomfortable for some people to talk about
slave owners, supremacists and segregationists on those terms,”

You can read the full poem here.

What’s the call-to-action? I think it’s about acknowledging the facts and having others-centered conversations. Too often, we (and I’m pointing at myself, too) want to assert our feelings and opinions and facts, and insist on being heard first.

As I tell kids at in our programs, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, because He wants us to listen more than talk.”

Let’s be open to loving dialogue.

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  Colossians 4:6

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

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Can You Help Fill This Gap?

Vox Josh Courtney

One of My Boys is coming to Greenville, and he could use your support.

Courtney Owens is a young man from Allendale who . . .

  • was one of the hardest working guys I coached;
  • volunteered at every camp that I asked him to work (and that was a lot);
  • shows a desire to improve himself, such as reading every book I’ve given him, and even going through a book study with a group of guys;
  • impressed a local business owner enough to get hired — an impressive feat in a community of high unemployment and few employers.

Now, he has graduated high school, and is wanting to move on towards success in life. The question before him now is, what does that life look like?

Courtney has been raised by a loving and strong mother, and with the influence of some caring men to give him guidance along the way. But he can use more. He can use Vox Bivium.

What is Vox Bivium? Click here to learn more…

Summer Camp: Mid-Summer Update

After week off, we are back at Summer Camp. We are thankful to partner with Long Branch Baptist Church, as it has been a wonderful opportunity for our family, and for 40+ children in this neighborhood and in this church.

This experience has been new for us — being leaders at a summer camp without being in charge of it. We are thankful that we haven’t been in charge. For one, it has helped us to step back and not carry such a big load. But even more, we see that the leaders at Long Branch have done a number of things so much better than we could have!

During the first few weeks of this camp, Joanna and I noticed how loving those leaders are. This church has some younger adults and college students serving, most of the ones involved are older. And while these folks might not have the energy level they once did, their love and passion for children is obvious.

Click here to learn more, and to watch a fun video of our campers…

Young Entrepreneurs

hannah village fashion

My daughter has a fantastic summer job, through which she is earning a paycheck by the sweat of her brow (and her back, armpits, and all over). But more than that, she and thirteen other teenagers have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship.

Every Wednesday, these youth meet to learn about characteristics of successful businesses, such as strategy, marketing, customer service, etc. Then they get to apply their knowledge through a real-world business plan.

That’s right, these teenagers are not just learning about business. They are running a business.

Check that. They are collectively launching and running four businesses:

  • Bread Winnerz is developing a recipe with a local bread maker.
  • Village Fashion will be designing and printing a t-shirt.
  • Team Frepair is designing and building a bike repair station.
  • Cook It Up is creating a healthy, low-cost recipe using the produce the teens are growing.

We are almost halfway through our summer (gasp!), and these business teams are making progress. However, they need your support. They each need some more capital to get their businesses going.

Would you consider making a financial contribution to support one of the teams? Note that your money will be used as a no-interest loan to help build a real business. And when that business pays back the loan, your original investment will then help another entrepreneur. (Thanks, Nasha Lending!)

You can click on any of the team names above to make a donation. Of course, I have a particular favorite — the most fashionable choice.  (And you can check out their blog, too.)

The Hope for Unseen Greenville

Unseen Greenville Panel

Since we moved back to Greenville a year ago (and especially since we now live downtown), I’ve learned a few things about our city:

Greenville does a great job “hiding” its problems (such as poverty).

And (as a result of this),

It’s easier to raise money and awareness for places like Allendale than it is for Greenville.

Now, both of these observations are vast generalizations. Most of us in Greenville are aware of real problems and needs in our community. And we have had lots of supporters for our ministry in Greenville.

But when most people think of Greenville, they think of all the Top 10 lists that our city finds itself on, for food, raising a family, and more. And we are so confident in our superiority that we boast of our hashtag #yeahTHATGreenville.

Still, if you hang around long enough and open your eyes and hear, you’ll see the unseen Greenville.

You’ll want to SEE this . . .

By the Grace of God

Lead Academy

When we led summer camps that were 8 weeks long, we always had plenty of energy, until the last week. By the end, we knew we couldn’t make it one more day.

When our camps were 4 weeks long, we felt the same way. We had just the amount of energy to make it to the end.

The End of Teaching

As you know, I have been a long-term substitute teacher for past four months, besides the two months last fall. I loved the opportunity, and I really love the school. But at times, I was doubtful I could make it to the end.

Don’t quit now! Keep reading…

Clubhouse Kids: By the Numbers

This is our last week of Clubhouse Kids after school program, before we take a break for the summer.

We could share lots of stories of how we’ve seen children grow and learn and be loved. I already have, here and here and here.

Instead, especially since I’m a math guy, I’ll just share some numbers of what’s been happening over the past few months:

  • nearly 150 hours of reading,
  • more than 250 hours of homework assistance,
  • more than 250 hours of exercise and physical activity by children (to say nothing of us adults!)
  • dozens of arts and crafts creations (all credit to my wife)
  • 180 volunteer hours (which is worth far more than the calculated $4152.60)
  • 520 snacks served to children, virtually all of which were donated
  • $2500 donated to send kids to summer camps

This doesn’t quantify the new relationships that formed, especially between kids from the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood (since they don’t go to school together).

And it doesn’t include the spiritual and emotional investment our team has made in the hearts of these children. As one mom told me:

“They come home talking about all kinds of stuff about the Bible that you guys are teaching them.”

To our volunteers, families, and donors, we give a big . . .

THANK YOU!!!

You are making an invaluable and eternal difference.