Challenging Minds and Changing Lives… Literally!
I received a text message at 9:41am on August 12, 2019, from one of my good friends. She sent a text explaining that she knew a young lady who had been admitted into college and was preparing to enter as an incoming freshman. As other freshman were preparing for "Move-In Day", this young lady was not able to move on campus due to her not having any dorm room supplies. My friend decided to reach out to her close friends and relatives to see if we would be willing to purchase an item off the young lady’s dorm room registry.
The young lady was from my hometown, the great state of Mississippi, and was enrolled to begin her educational journey at my Alma Mater-- THEE Jackson State University (JSU). What was supposed to be a full and fun experience for her was interrupted because she did not have the proper resources. There were so many thoughts going through my mind as I began to contemplate ways I could be of assistance, both in the natural and the spiritual realm. My soul was not at peace with only buying an item. I instead wanted to make sure she had everything she needed to start this journey off on a great foot. To me, it was bigger than just the dorm room supplies. As a woman, as a sister, as a mom, as a Christian, and, most importantly, as a person who was once a college freshman, I recognized that the way I chose to respond would be vital. I knew this was an opportunity for me in many ways:
To help the friend who had reached out to me to show my support for her, as she has always been an awesome friend.
To help the young lady and show her that, despite what may have been her example of womanhood in the past, there is a sisterhood of women out here that has her back.
To be a blessing as a Christian because, with her being a first generation college student, I had the potential to help her break cycles and generational curses.
Instead of looking at the situation for what it was, right now in this moment, I was looking into this young lady’s future thinking about her being the example for her daughters and granddaughters. I wanted to enable her to start a new tradition and set a new standard. It was also my chance to increase her faith in what God could do. This required challenging the minds of some of us as believers to change the life of this young lady. Let me explain!
As believers we always hear the phrase that faith without works is dead. Typically, we use this when we are asking God to do something for us and saying that, in that same arena, we must have faith and do the work. Let’s use the example of wanting a new job. Normally we would look at the works as updating your resume, applying for the job, preparing for the interview, etc. Then the faith would be exercised in you believing in and praying to God to bring it to pass. However, if we look at James 2:14-17 in its entirety, it shows us that our works are truly our deeds.
14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,
16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
For us as believers, our deed was helping the young lady. We displayed our faith that God can meet our needs by us doing what we had to in order to meet her needs. Instead of holding on to what we had, we released some of it knowing that God could replace it and knowing that He has the ability to add more. As verse 17 says, it would have been useless to have just prayed for her or simply given an encouraging word to ultimately send her off the same way she came. This is simply because we had the ability to change her situation by doing our deeds.
I made one call to my mom who works at JSU and she immediately sprang into action. Literally, her response was "give her my number." In less than 24 hours, the young lady had received cash app donations, she was taken to the store to get school supplies, and was handed dorm room supplies to fill her entire room. A sisterhood of women came together to help a stranger and it was done in such a way that no one but God could get the credit. Prayerfully, this also increased the level of faith in what God can do for the young lady to carry with her during her matriculation at JSU. When she has late study nights, hard tests, and other normal college obstacles , hopefully, she will refer back to this moment of how quickly God can turn a situation around and have the faith to keep going.
This "deed" just changed the trajectory of generations for years to come! My prayer is that this starts a new generational norm in her family. My hope is that, because of this, a new wave of educated women is awaken and they then become a new wave of female entrepreneurs, bosses, CEOs, wives, moms, mentors, etc. Ultimately, a new level of empowerment to the community and the Kingdom will spring forth because of one "deed"!
The next time you have an opportunity to do a "deed" always keep in mind that it is bigger than you and bigger than what you see right there in that moment. If you have the ability to do it, never send another woman off the same way she came to you!
Shout out to the JSU crew-- Dr. Rosella Houston, Dr. LaTonya Robinson-Kanonu, Mrs. Edna Caston, Mrs. Tina Gustavis, Dr. Gilda Robinson, and Dr. Meshonya Wren-Coleman -- for being the epitome of "Challenging Minds and Changing Lives" for this young lady!