“What if your greatest barrier in life was your place?”
When I heard my pastor pose this question during one of his messages about seven years ago, it hit me. It wasn’t a statement that caused me to nod my head and then was quickly forgotten. No. Instead, it hit me and stuck with me. I couldn’t shake it.
As a teacher, I immediately began to think about the students I worked with on a daily basis who, for the most part, had every opportunity, resource, and relationship before them. I thought of the classroom in which I was teaching filled with books and bins, technology and training materials. Our school was a warm and safe place. Our building was one where students felt valued and appreciated, significant and sown into. Children I taught knew that their teachers believed they had potential and greatness on the inside of them, and each day was spent unearthing, cultivating, and promoting the growth of each child’s unique gifts and talents.
Our school was a beautiful place filled with love and learning,
joy and journeying.
Then, just as quickly, my mind flashed to the classrooms in Haiti that I had visited in the past few years. In 2010, right after the major earthquake, I was given the opportunity to go work with teachers and students at a school in Les Cayes. Despite the conditions, and the 30, 40, & 50+ students in each class, the teachers there were working just as hard to teach and train the young people in their care. They were spending hours each day doing their best to teach the children what they were expected to learn, with minimal materials, while sorting through the devastation their nation had just experienced. Through it all, their heart for the children was evident.
There was one difference … one significant difference …
and that was their place.
For the children in both places, the desire to learn was the same. The innate talent and ability was the same. The gifts and talents, the potential, the dreams and vision, desire and hope were the same.
The imagining and dreaming about
“What do I want to be when I grow up?” was the same.
What was heartbreaking for me though, as I thought about the similarities between children in Haiti and the children in my own school in Ohio, was that the one difference was so significant.
For children in Haiti, their place doesn’t make their dreams and vision, hopes and heart any less important. The fact that they don’t have books in their classrooms, have six students sitting at a desk built for three, are using broken pencils and “nubs” of crayons, with no electricity, no technology, and are trying to learn as the 90 degree heat and humidity causes sweat to drip down their backs … does not minimize their significance one single ounce.
Where they live, where they play, where they go to school, where they spend their days does not reduce their ability to think big, hope for the impossible, and see themselves making an impact on the world.
The children who are growing up in “places” all over the world where the resources are lacking, the support structures for growth are not in place, and the doors of opportunity are often closed or absent altogether … those children, just as much as children from wealthy neighborhoods and families, communities and regions, are just as worthy of experiencing the joy of growth and the sweetness of success.
They are just as gifted, just as talented, just as brilliant as the children who have been blessed to be born in places of abundance. There is no condemnation for those who were blessed to be in environments where all of their needs are met in above and beyond ways. However, those whose place would not be defined that way deserve opportunity too. They deserve atmospheres and environments where their hopes and dreams can thrive, and their gifts, talents, and abilities can be cultivated and utilized to impact the Kingdom.
And that truth … that truth alone … hit me that day, and I knew I needed to do something about it.
So, as I spent time in the Global School of Ministry at Cornerstone Church, I knew I needed to start a nonprofit organization to unearth the gifts, talents, and abilities of underprivileged children around the world. Through one of our “Business Plan” assignments, in the Kingdom Business track, I had the chance to create a real plan that could make a real impact. The business leaders, who were my mentors at the time, helped me with this process. I am so grateful, because I knew I needed to take the resources that have been afforded to me and sow them into the lives of children whose place is their only limiting factor.
As a result, A Gifted Generation was born in 2012. We are currently a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and our mission is to unearth the gifts and talents of children around the world by providing the resources and environment where growth can occur, while instilling the belief that each child has been uniquely created for a divine purpose.
Since 2012, we have partnered with many generous people who also believe that if we can reduce the barriers caused by a child’s place, they can grow and thrive in ways we never imagined possible.
God is doing amazing things in Haiti, and I am grateful to be a part of the revival that is taking place. The children I have worked with over the last eight years have impressed me beyond measure, and they continue to challenge me to do more to help cultivate what has already been planted in them by God.
There is power in place.
And, the best part is that no matter the place you’re in, God has placed something in your hands that can assist others in rising up, seeking Him, and knowing that the greatness on the inside of them is significant and needed in the Kingdom.
Let’s keep changing the world together!