whole and healthy,
it must be based on people's
love and concern for
O' my friends, today is a wonderful day! Children young and old are headed back to school. And because of your generous spirit, Ms. Chanel Auguste had the pleasure of hearing a Clark Atlanta University Admissions Counselor say...
"Congratulations! You are officially enrolled!"
Pray. That's what I promised Chanel. I promised her that I would pray about her situation and call back. I hung up the phone and actually did what I said I would do. The answer came immediately and all that I could say was, "Do WHAT? Lord, let me make sure I understood you. You want me... ME... to ask for money? On MY blog? Oh No! No! No! No! No! I hate asking for help. I didn't create my blog to beg for money." His response came back loud and clear, and guess what? God doesn't stutter. So I set out on the all important next step...
Take Action. Faith without works is dead, so yours truly moved into action mode. I called Chanel to ensure that she was comfortable sharing her plight with the entire world. As soon as I hung up, God began dictating while I typed at a feverish pace. I know it was God because it took me less than 30 minutes to complete the post. Had it been just me, I would have spent an entire day creatively crafting my post to camouflage the fact that I was asking for help. I was committed to seeing this to a successful ending. I called Chanel one more time to ask, "...how's your faith?"
Know Thy Role. From the onset, I knew that there was no room for "I". "I" had to relinquish control. "I" didn't have the experience, knowledge or financial resources to solve the problem. By giving up control, we gained more resources than we could have imagined. Ideas flow freely when we get out of our own way. New perspectives shine thru when we get out of the way. The idea of using Paypal to process donations came about because yours truly got out of the way (thanks again, Sy). I would serve as facilitator and the guardian of the standard of excellence.
I had spent much of this summer studying the pursuit and expectation of excellence. Chanel's situation provided an opportunity to apply my lessons. For instance, I knew that folks meant well when they suggested that she sit out this semester or transfer to a less-expensive school. Their suggestions were practical, even logical. But where was the excellence? If you're a U.S. taxpayer, you already underwrite the expensive miseducation taking place at our ever-expanding University of Penitentiaries system. If we allow our tax dollars to support this insanity, surely we can use our discretionary income to support pursuits of excellence. So, you see, there could be no wavering on excellence, not from Chanel and not from our community of supporters.
At the brink of failure, the real enemy will surface. We had raised $1,700.00 in less than two weeks; yet with 48 hours to go we still needed $1,800.00. I spent Saturday night in a restless funk punctuated by visions of failure. Church service on Sunday offered little relief, although I did manage to find encouragement thru the television ministries of Joyce Meyers and others. By Sunday night I was mentally and emotionally depleted. The fear of failing to deliver had me stressed out. With that said, I eked out a prayer and went to bed. You do know what happened next, don't you? God blessed me with not one, but two dreams of Chanel headed to class! Two dreams in one night when I generally can't recall two dreams in a year!
I woke up short of feeling fully refreshed, but encouraged by the visions of her attending class. Most of all, I realized that in my darkest moments, the real enemy had surfaced. And that enemy was none other than That Johnson Boy himself. As the deadline grew near, my focus shifted from fundraising to "how's this going to make me look when I fail to deliver?" Wrong! It wasn't about me. Throughout this endeavor I would ask Chanel, "how's your faith?" I never once asked her to believe in or have faith in me. It was all about God. Yet, in the darkest hour, I was overcome by a fear of failure and how people would view my failure. This enemy didn't have horns or a pitchfork, but he did sport dreadlocks and worry lines. So I did what I had to do. I praised God for the insight, then slayed my dreaded ego and his fear of failure, got dressed and headed to my job! You do know what happened next, don't you?
Exceedingly Abundantly Blessed! That best describes what happened next. Here we were, $1,800.00 short, deadline just hours away when I received a page from an earth angel. She and her family made a donation early on, and would inquire daily for updates. I avoided her pages as I didn't know how to tell her that we didn't meet the goal. But, having slayed the ego, I inhaled deeply and sent her a text message with the not so wonderful news. Her response? "Find $900.00 and my family will match." I made one call. One. The deal was done.Exceedingly Abundantly Blessed! We needed $3,500.00; God blessed us exceedingly, abundantly above that amount. After all, what price can you affix to this exercise in faith, restoration and healing? Some of you could write one check to cover Chanel's tuition. But your single act could never have the exponential impact of a loving community that shows how much they care. Who knew that a single phone call would touch so many lives? Folks from Iraq to London and everywhere in between opened their hearts and minds. You shared her plight with your friends and colleagues. You emailed encouragement and information. You sowed a financial blessing into the life of one of our Invisible Achievers. I can assure you she definitely has a testimony!
As for That Johnson Boy, this entire endeavor underscores the bible verse, "...all things work together for them that love the Lord." I'm reminded just how interconnected we are and how our actions (or inactions) have profound implications beyond the scope of our vision. My goal was simple - raise $3,500.00. Who knew that this endeavor would challenge me to confront my own apathy and strengthen my desire to lead thru Christ? How was I to know that my lesson was tied to a family miles away - themselves in the midst of financial struggles. They withheld their name, but offered their testimony.
Their finances were tight and they, too, were praying for direction. God's word for them? When facing such a crisis, sow good seed into the life of someone less fortunate. And so it was that on the morning of our deadline - the same morning that I finally summoned the courage to inform all of our financial shortcoming - I received a page from my earth angels. They didn't know Chanel. They barely knew me. But they knew God and desired nothing more than to honor His request to sow good seed. And with that they replied, "Find $900 and my family will match." Oh, I say to you again and again and again... All things work together for them that love the Lord!
I can't thank each of you enough. I really can't. The village is indeed alive and capable of greatness beyond measure. I promise that I'll get back to you as we chart a course to create a tuition assistance fund for situations similar to Chanels. Until then, if anybody ask you who's that making all that noise about today being a wonderful day, you tell them That Johnson Boy, that's who!
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