A few years ago, I was walking past the administration building at my University, and I saw a young woman who looked lost. I don’t remember much about the conversation, but I remember sitting on a bench in front of Rutherford as she explained where she had come from (the East Coast) and why she was there (to get an MA in Biblical counseling). She didn’t know a soul, wasn’t sure she had enough money, and was living with strangers. Tough way to start out in California. We talked, I helped as I could, and moved on.
In the next days, Steph became a friend, a student, a colleague in Student Life, and a partner in ministry. She made friends, got a job as a Resident Director, and moved in with 78 women who quickly benefited from her life experience and Biblical wisdom.
- The average life expectancy of an individual is 65; 14 years below the U.S. average.
- 93.5% of children less than 18 year olds live in single family homes.
- 85% of children come from low-income families, only half will graduate high school.
- 60% of adults are unemployed.
- The median income is a mere $15,950.
“The greatest poverty we face, however, is not the poverty food or cash, but a poverty of the Word. We believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the one hope that can fully address the problem and change communities. We believe that building healthy, Gospel-centered churches in the nations poorest communities is the best strategy of promoting and creating real change.”ONE HOPE
Back to my friend: Steph is also a gifted communicator of both the Scriptures and of the Urban Experience to individuals and the church. She has the opportunity to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY to get her doctorate in education. The Garden Church, indeed the Church at large, NEEDS WOMEN who are theologically astute, culturally conscious, and able to teach. (My friend Jenn wrote about that here.)
I asked her why she wanted to go on for further schooling and here is what she said:
I have been serving as a Gospel worker for The Garden Church for 2.5 years. Primarily I am responsible for the life coaching teaching budgeting, conflict resolution, transitioning to self sustainability, connecting mentors from the church to trainees, and facilitating job training from a Christian perspective. Ultimately I am pursuing a doctorate in Education at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in hopes of developing relevant and sound curriculum, further training for helping indigenous leaders achieve both spiritual and professional milestones in inner city contexts for the glory of God.Stephanie Laferriere
I grew up in a poor context but was surrounded by a strong community. Upon becoming a Christian, God grew a desire in me to develop training opportunities for women and families. I studied biblical counseling at The Master’s University and now would like to pursue further education in hopes of expanding impact for Baltimore and cities like it that have large populations of those impacted by generational poverty. Communities that are impacted by violence, disparities, complications with health, and conflict, ultimately need the hope of the Gospel to penetrate through each and every facet of life for God’s glory!
Remember the concept of the old-fashioned barn-raising? A lot of people come together for a little bit of work to build something significant. Can you help send Steph to school? Investing in education will be a gift to the whole church. Here is approximately what she will need:
- $22,000 in tuition
- $2,500 in books (But really, could this ever be enough?)
- $2800 in airfare (Two times a year for 4 years)
Tuition donations can be made on-line at The Garden Church here, and chose “Education Fund.” The information is on that site for sending checks, as well; just write “Education Fund” on the memo line. If you want to help out with books, you can purchase Amazon gift cards for ONE HOPE’s Education Wish List here. And finally, if you would like to help with airfare or use your miles to buy her a ticket, you can email Steph at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
Finally, if Steph has been a blessing in your life, would you share how in the comments below and then share this post? Please let me know if you have questions.