This past year has been an exciting year at the First Tuskegee, Tenn., Church, “The Church on the Hill.” The members have been engaged in several projects addressing concerns within the local community. Hence, the members have partnered with one of the university students, Ayanda Chakawa, in the Bridging the Gap program. “Bridging the Gap,” a grant-funded innovative initiative, involves training leaders within faith-based communities, and promoting activities with African-American parents of children ages five to 12. The program was designed by Chakawa to help parents strengthen their child’s health and overall well-being, and to increase access to needed services.
Chakawa believes that disparities in health and well-being in marginalized groups are among the most pressing health-related issues of today. When Chakawa approached First Tuskegee about this unique opportunity, the members thought it would be a great way to get involved in the community, and become active change agents in the area of mental health. The project is part of a strategic partnership with six churches and multiple schools within the community. Chakawa is extremely passionate about this. She says, “I hope that the lasting impact of my project will be to directly empower African-American communities to utilize self-sustainable, culturally-relevant methods to promote child health and well-being.” She also reports that “it would have been impossible to provide this program without the support of several community stakeholders, including First Tuskegee Church.”
So far the members have been blessed to see this project take off and begin making a life-changing impact in the community. This program is already beginning to strengthen the overall health and well-being of the community, as parents are becoming more aware of their children’s mental health care needs and the services available to them. Several of the church members have been involved in the program, and have been deeply impacted by the difference they have been able to make in the lives of the children. As a church family, they believe that every child is important in the eyes of God, and by caring for them they are demonstrating their love for God. In Matthew 10:13, Jesus was challenged by His own disciples who attempted to prevent the children from coming to Him. Jesus said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” NIV.
Jesus’ tender words to the disciples are a reminder to all of the eternal value that Jesus places on children, and the value that everyone — as His disciples — should place on those who are precious in His eyes. More than a year ago, when Chakawa first approached the members, they could never have imagined the impact they would be able to make in the lives of the children. The members are extremely excited to be a part of this unique ministry outreach, and pray that with God’s help they can make an eternal difference for the Kingdom of God.
South Central | June 2017