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on "the children network"

BY KEN AUSTIN

This new school semester working at Common Ground Montgomery has been the best, by far. And not only in working at CGM, but in being around the new school, Valiant Cross. I have been teaching for years that King David, in Psalm 100, was telling us to find out what noises the Lord likes to hear and then to make them. I believe that we are on God's favorite station now: "The Children Network." 

I get to see the answer to many, many years of prayers now being fulfilled in the Washington Park Community. I get a chance every day to hear joyful noises out of the mouths of babes. I hear generational curses being broken through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

I see young men unraveling potential they didn't know they had through math and science. I see books and reading becoming their friends and companions transporting them into places they only dreamed about, far beyond the destructive influences of their physical realities. I see Technology being used by them instead of using them. Instead of technology paralyzing them, I see it motivating and causing them to reach for new heights. 

I hear chains falling from the future of a new generation of men. I hear the sound of freedom coming, and it is a page turning in the after school tutoring program. I see fallow ground being broken up and walls being broken down by love, kindness and accountability. 

I get a chance to see hope in its infancy.  

I watch it being planted. 

I see every day what faith truly is. I see that faith is the ingredients or substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I see young scholars with hope in their hearts for things they have never seen before, now with the ingredients they believe will make those things come to pass. I see boys wanting to become men, and I mean God fearing men that will raise their sons, protect their daughters, love their wives, and provide for their families. 
The noise I hear is not the old neighborhood train of drug dealers, high school dropouts, gangbangers and fatherless homes,  but it is the noise of men coming up who will take  lead and not follow the crowd but change their surroundings. 

I believe dreams come from the work you do. I can see after a hard day's work at Valiant Cross Academy that young boys' dreams are changing.  

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" is the new dream. 

I see a new brotherhood being formed that neither heights nor depths, pride nor selfish gain will break. 

"Who's got your back? I got your back I got your back, Bro!" 

I hear a new sound: "Excuses! No, we don't make those."  

"Work: anything worth having is worth working for."

Valiant Cross Academy is a place where young men will Rise Above!

perseverance

BY CHAQUANA TOWNSEND

Rejoice in hope, persevere in tribulation, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12

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A theme that has been prevalent for me as I work in ministry is this: Ministry is hard!

As much as I adore the parents and children I work with, there are times when I am sorely discouraged and ready to throw in the towel. There are times when the children frustrate me to the point of anger and parent relationships cause me to be distant, afraid, and cold. There have been times when I questioned whether or not I should leave Common Ground Montgomery and go elsewhere for employment. However, when my heart gets weary and I am in a place of hurt, pain, frustration, and confusion, the Lord quickly reminds me of why I came here in the first place.

One thing I look back on is the heart and passion he has given me for this precious community. In the summer of 2009, I was a summer intern for the first time with CGM and it radically changed my life. Coming from the inner-city myself, CGM gave me a deeper compassion and heart for the children, women, and men, living in the inner-city. I knew from my very first summer God was calling me to be a part of Washington Park in a very special way.

As I built relationships with parents and children, a deep love and burden grew and grew even when I was away from the ministry. I knew God was going to use the community, staff, and relationships built with volunteers, interns, parents, and children, to continually shape me into the woman he has called me to be. I am so much more whole, renewed, free, and content, despite the daily difficulties (personal and ministry) that I face. God is doing a great work in me, and I am so grateful!

Despite the inescapable difficulties life and ministry bring, I am hopeful. Why? Because God’s presence and hand is on this ministry. He is radically changing lives and I am a living testimony of that.

And so, I am determined to persevere now more than ever! Why? Because God has called me to directly invest in the loves of some of the most beautiful, talented, funny, smart, and amazing children and parents. They give me hope; they brighten up my day because they remind me that the same God that saved me can save them. They remind me that God is a protector, comforter, King, ruler, and creator. Their smiles bring me so much joy! I literally see the image of God in them, and I am amazed.

I will continue to persevere in prayer. God hears the cries of his people, and I will continue to give all things to Him in prayer. He is saving, restoring, renewing, radically transforming my "hood" and I am blown away by what I see! For those of you who want to give up and throw in the towel, please remind yourself of what God has called you to do.